The Power of FOMO: How to Motivate Action on Social Media

By on February 20, 2019

The fear of missing out is a powerful motivator.

How many times have you gone to a party, even though you were tired, because you knew all your friends were going to be there? Or agonized about declining an opportunity even though you knew it wasn’t right for you?

Anxiety about missing out is a powerful motivator for just about everyone, which is why cultivating a little FOMO (aka “fear of missing out”) on social media can actually be a good thing.

Think about Amazon’s “Only a few remaining!” alert when stock is low, or basically every Black Friday deal ever. There’s an opportunity, it’s pressing, and you need to take action on it now. Done well, FOMO marketing helps consumers make a decision quickly.

Here are some important points to know if you want to generate a little FOMO with your audience.

Start with Your Value

My wholehearted philosophy when it comes to social media is to create win-win situations. When your marketing efforts offer something useful and give your business a leg up, you’re truly killing it in the marketing game. So my first and most important tip is to be sure you’re offering thoughtful, curated content on social media that people actually want to see.

Simon Simanek famously encourages people to start with a why, and I think that’s a really great place to begin.

After all, if you want to create FOMO, you need to have something that people don’t want to miss out on.

Make It Exclusive 

After you’ve got your value sorted out, now it’s time to create exclusivity. The basic premise behind this is pretty simple: create an offer that requires users to opt in for access. Everyone wants to feel special, so cultivating a privileged status in a club is a powerful motivator.

Consider starting rewards programs or a loyalty club. This could be a loyalty card if you have a brick-and-mortar store, or it could be something as simple as a members-only Facebook group. In my VIP Facebook group, I host live, members-only videos every Friday. It’s a strong value-add (informative, useful videos) coupled with a members-only gate that generates a feeling of exclusivity.

Win. Win.

Develop the Emotion

Emotion is the core reason people do anything outside of procuring food, water, and shelter. Almost all of our purchases are motivated by emotion, even if you think you’re a being of pure rationality. Even if you stick to a strict budget! There’s no way to separate emotion from finances and, if there were, stores wouldn’t need to spend so much money for good interior design and friendly salespeople.

I don’t impulse buy a Starbucks on a crappy day because I need calories to live; I buy it because I’m feeling emotional and want to treat myself. Same goes for that squeaky toy I bought my dog. He doesn’t need another toy, I just get joy out of giving it to him.

But emotions make for great storytelling opportunities. Connect with your audience on an emotional level and tell the story of your product rather than just trying to get people to buy it. Craft the narrative of your product and get people to emotionally connect with it. This engages them in the story and makes them feel like they belong.

Get a Community to Back You Up 

The more people who agree that you have an amazing product or a great story, the more people will want to join. No one ever had fun at a party where they were the only guest — Home Alone style pajama dance-fests excluded.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask your clients to post reviews of their experience. Not only does this give you great feedback, but it also gives potential clients something to reference. I love Amazon because I can usually check out half a dozen reviews of the product and buy confidently.

If you have something intangible like a podcast, getting iTunes reviews is the equivalent. Then again, I doubt I have to convince any podcasters of the importance of iTunes reviews for promoting your show.

If you have some reviews in the bank, you can also use Canva to create polished graphics using the client’s review and use   Side note, I love using Social Report because I can “save” these review posts in my queue and easily repost them throughout the year.

Harness Scarcity 

The less there is of something, the more valuable it is. Scarcity is the only reason I don’t have a diamond-encrusted toothbrush, for example. What’s in short supply has an intrinsic value in that it’s hard to replace or come by.

In marketing terms, letting your audience know that what you have is special and not for everyone cultivates a sense that your offering is exclusive and limited somehow.

Speaking of diamonds, did you know that they almost went out of fashion in the thirties? The clever diamond business created an ad campaign highlighting how rare and special diamonds are, because only the engaged got to wear diamonds. That cult of exclusivity instantly made them more attractive.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to go to such extreme lengths to create scarcity, but it can be helpful to specify that your product isn’t for just anyone.

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines 

If you’ve done any kind of marketing, you already understand the importance of urgency. Those holiday deals and limited time offers are popular because they work. If you don’t give your audience a deadline, there’s no reason for them to make the decision now. They could drag this out for weeks if they wanted to, because we’re all a little lazy sometimes.

But if your offer expires, it puts a time frame on the decision, as well as a point of no return where the offer goes away. That fear of missing out can help people make their decision by creating the urgency they need to pull the trigger.

Don’t Overdo It 

My final point here is really important. In this, as in all things, don’t be a jerk about it. Too much FOMO can create a negative, stressed-out social media environment for your followers. You don’t want viewers to come to your page and get scared away by the rampant of FOMO you’re throwing at them.

I suggest targeting each of the points above in tandem, but don’t use them all at once. A message that said “look how exclusive, scarce, urgent, and important we are” would probably be more of a turn-off than a motivator. Remember to be providing welcoming, free content, as well as exclusive content, to keep your audience engaged.

If you want to hear a little more on this topic, check out my episode on FOMO over on the Savvy Social Podcast!

 

About Andrea Jones

Working with hundreds of small businesses, startups, and podcasters since 2014, Andréa Jones is a Social Media Strategist who loves helping business owners and influencers elevate their social media strategies. She’s also the host of the Savvy Social Podcast, a weekly show for budding entrepreneurs and she's the founder of Social Media for Podcasts, a social media agency for podcasters by podcasters.
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