The term Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) entered the global lexicon around 10 years ago. Today, the social anxiety individuals feel when a friend or colleague is experiencing something engaging, fun and memorable without them is more than just an emotion. Marketers have turned it into a strategy to drive attendance and to create awareness around future events that delegates would be foolish to miss out on again.
“In this day and age, we’re able to tune in to almost any experience we like,” says Michelle O’Neill, senior creative strategist, FreemanXP. “Ironically, it can evoke feelings of FOMO as we want to be in on the action, rather than watch on from the sidelines.”
FOMO has often been leveraged by brands as a marketing tool during small-scale events, like pop-ups. Due to their limited duration and the fact that the content they offer is mostly available on an extremely exclusive basis, these micro events are a great way to tap into delegates’ social anxieties.
O’Neill explains: “With rising stress levels and busy lifestyles, delegates are time poor. Pop-up’s provide an opportunity for brands to create moments of joy in tangible experiences. The exclusivity and time limitations of pop-ups can attract the attention of delegates and encourage them to share their experiences with others and, therefore, extend the experience into the digital space and create content.”
Earlier this year, high-end fashion brand Chanel launched a Coco Café concept in Singapore that opened for nine days and was aimed specifically towards the millennial market. As well as selling products from its skincare and fragrance range, Chanel offered free hand massages, makeovers and makeup tips to consumers that purchased something from the pop-up store. This exclusive offering, in addition to the fact that Chanel clearly communicated an end-date, led to a footfall of approximately 1,000 customers a day.
While FOMO has become a successful marketing tool to help drive attendance in the build up to a campaign, it has proven to be just as effective both during and after an event, too. This is certainly the case for incentives, with companies using social media and other marketing channels to feed images and videos of inspirational itineraries to employees back home.
“FOMO can be used to not only ensure that delegates stay at the top of their game, but also to encourage more people to strive for the goal of winning a spot on the programme,” says Cate Carpenter, global head of marketing, cievents. “FOMO is a great tactic that can be used pre-event, to build awareness and create anticipation through a strong communication strategy; during the event, so those that missed out on the trip can see the whole experience unfold via social media; and post-event, with photo galleries or postcards from destinations visited.”
Social media tools
Social media has become an extremely valuable ally to clients that have adopted FOMO as a marketing strategy. Used as a way to broadcast the event experience directly to audiences’ smartphones and tablets in real time, the traditional strategies have included encouraging delegates to tweet insightful soundbites from content sessions using a specially created hashtag, or offering prizes to those who post the most engaging photos during the event. Now, Snapchat has become a new and effective platform to help clients leverage FOMO in real-time.
“Snapchat is one of the most popular ways to share live experiences virtually,” O’Neill says. “Geofilters, which are illustrations or filters for Snapchat photos that can be used within a specific geographic location, is a creative and fun way to brand content taken on Snapchat at your event location.”
As Snapchat posts are sent and received instantly, users see their colleagues engaging with an event while it’s still happening and are exposed to the content. Since users can also download the image once it’s taken, it has become common to see these images with event-specific geofilters being reposted on other social networks like Facebook and Instagram after the event, providing increased longevity and extending the brand story to an even larger audience.
Despite the growing popularity of FOMO, particularly in targeting the millennial audience, there are instances where this strategy has been misused and, as a result, has had a detrimental impact on the marketing of an event. This, according to Michelle Schuberg, executive creative director at Imagination, is called Forced Fear of Missing Out (FFOMO).
“The rise and subsequent maturity of social media has left us with a much more savvy audience than 10 years ago,” she says. “As such, any attempt at manufactured emotion rarely hits the mark. This includes fake or forced FOMO. Building a strong community of vocal advocates is the only genuine and reliable way to achieve a ground swell of desire.”
Carpenter agrees, stating that FOMO can’t be achieved if the content isn’t up to an extremely high standard. “Clients need to ensure they have a base to build Fomo from, so the programme needs to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something that provides talkabiltiy.”