How to use FOMO Effectively

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Stephanie Williams

Content Team Manager

Nobody likes to feel like they’re missing out.

Do you always feel like people you know are up to more exciting things than you? A little envious of Liberty Marketing’s poppin’ Instagram feed? Suddenly compelled to buy something based off an ad pushing exclusivity?

A scroll down a social media page forms a highlight reel of your friend’s lives: a holiday, a rooftop party you weren’t invited to, a house-warming post, a relationship change, etc. All of these major life events, when seen in a linear fashion, can fill even the most content person with envy. We discuss how Instagram can effect body image in our dedicated post.

This is all related to FOMO, an age-old emotion that’s only recently entered popular culture. FOMO, in simple terms, translates to “fear of missing out,” which can be linked back to an old biological survival mechanism. In modern times, it’s usually attributed to a millennial-sensation of envy at missing out on something positive; in marketing terms, that’s a powerful motivator.

So, how can you translate this complex feeling to effective marketing? FOMO marketing is a message that triggers an innate fear in your audience of missing out, but it needs to be told in an implicit way. Below, Liberty lists how to effectively use FOMO ads to boost your content, sales and engagement.

Exclusivity Sells

Central to facilitating a sense of FOMO is urgency. When a time pressure is applied to an ad, it makes us feel as though we’re missing out. We’re all tempted by a product or experience that’s exclusive, the possibility of having something not many else have is too much to pass up.

The most obvious example of this is the Amazon sale, which updates stock levels and engagement live. If a buyer is on the fence, an update that an item is about to sell out can be the strongest factor in securing a sale: it satisfies both urgency and exclusivity in a buyer. There’s nothing quite like the moment of panic when those pair of trousers or perfect kettle suddenly becomes low in stock, right? Suddenly, in a wild blur, you’ve purchased seven pairs of shoes and a PlayStation 4, almost unawares.

To get all nerdy and techy, this can all be explained by human psychology. Simply put, losses cause more strain on us than a gain.

loss aversion

The same can be applied to FOMO marketing: if a business can utilise a sense of loss in the buyer, then the buyer is more likely to purchase an item. In technical terms, this is called ‘loss aversion’. If a visitor feels as though they’re running out of time, they are more likely to purchase an item. Suddenly, that product that didn’t look too great in the past becomes irresistible; what we’re saying is FOMO is like the beer goggles of marketing…sort of.

Get a Social Life

social scrolling

Encouraging social media shares and integrating this in your customer journey is an excellent way to cause FOMO. By using real people – almost as influencers themselves – as evidence of people enjoying your product, this can hit the same type of FOMO people can experience on social media.

By integrating social media, this adds an emotional dimension to the purchase. People, especially millennials, associate social media with comparisons. A lot of consumers are sick of overly-doctored advertisements, whereas social media posts feel a little more ‘real’.

When a customer sees someone enjoying a product, particularly if it’s low stock or exclusive, this forms a type of peer pressure on the buyer.

It’s almost like all those terrible fashion trends we were convinced to endure (or love) as kids borne out of self-comparison. I mean, if some of us were crazy enough to opt for a (totally cool) mullet, then it isn’t a stretch for consumers to be convinced by social media posts.

You don’t need to rely solely on social media, either. Social proof exists as a FOMO marketing tactic, too. By sharing accurate data with your customers, such as reviews, stock levels, and how many people are viewing a page at a time, brands can promote a probability of missing out.

Hotel sites commonly do this, especially when reservations are nearing capacity.

According to Citizen Relations, 68% of millennials – the major market for FOMO content – said they’ve made a reactionary purchase as a result of FOMO, often within 24 hours of seeing and coveting someone else’s experience.

Of course, an easy way for these potential buyers to appease these feelings of missing out is to get their wallet out, which is the ultimate goal.

Millennials Prefer Experiences

millenials like experiences

For FOMO marketing campaigns, experiences are key, but how do you put that into good content? Well, you let your customers do the work for you. Genius, we know!

Extending on the above, focusing on user-generated content is central. By allowing customers and visitors to share their experiences in-depth through your CMS, it acts as tangible proof of a product’s quality.

Real proof is gold in FOMO marketing, as it only makes the buyer more likely to follow through with a transaction.

The Nielsen Consumer Trust Index revealed that 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising: millennials, in particular, are extremely distrustful of traditional advertising methods. Damn those pesky millennials for making our job harder!

It’s basic psychology: if somebody sees someone enjoying something they’re interested in, they’re more likely to chase that experience.

Early Birds Get the Worm

early bird

Who doesn’t love a freebie? We’ll take anything if it’s free: balloons, memory sticks, terrible pens, anything. People love free stuff, even if it’s, well, rubbish.

Chucking out a freebie to early buyers acts as an inverse to loss aversion, but still achieves the same goals. When a product is new and not very exclusive, offering an extra gift or goodie can cause FOMO. By offering an extra gift for, say, the first 100 customers can swing a sale.

This tends to be common in electronics, wherein an electrical product will come bundled in with other products from the same company in added bonuses or deals. A goodie can be anything from a smart watch to a basket of fruit, the pricier, the better. How many of us have agreed to a less than preferable phone contract because it comes bundled with a games console or other toy?

A study by Conversionxl concluded that 93% of responders stated free shipping alone would help swing a sale, never mind a bonus product. Even if your business or client cannot offer a gift, offering limited free shipping can work too.

No Such Thing as Too on the Nose

Some of the most successful marketing campaigns regarding FOMO have worn the methodology on their sleeve – very cheeky.

A few simple words acknowledging FOMO, such as “don’t miss out” below, is enough to send a social-media-scroller-professional into pandemonium.

obvious FOMO example

By showing a few strands of information: price change, sale percentage, and the FOMO language, the advert is instantly effective. Not only will it impact in the short-term, but it’ll likely stay in the viewer’s mind for the long-term, too.

(Source: Edith and Ella)

FOMO is a powerful tool when used correctly. With much of its science proved by behavioural science, it’s a safe bet to ensure your business gets sales. However, as people become more and more aware of FOMO, the more inventive and implicit brands will have to become when using it.

Learn something new? Then get down to the real nitty-gritty with our social media marketing agency, our training courses and social media. You don’t want to miss out, do you?

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Stephanie Williams

Content Team Manager

After impressing Liberty on a work experience placement during her final year of university back in 2013, Steph was offered a role as a Junior Copywriter and joined the team after graduation. Since then, her hard work has seen her promoted multiple times to her current position leading the content team. She has a degree…

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