What’s all the fuss about FOMO?

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

When was the last time you saw a queue outside of what you would call a fairly ‘ordinary’ restaurant? Or an ‘exclusive’ concert? Perhaps a pop-up that gives away gluten-free bread outside of a tube station? Quite recently, I suppose.

People love queues, don’t they? That uncomfortable feeling of standing on your feet for ages while thoroughly investigating someone’s back just to get access to something…special. Well, not really. This is not something people particularly enjoying doing. But the fear of missing out (or ‘FOMO’) is so frantically embedded in our DNA that it is a far greater 'discomfort' for us to miss out than to waste some time in a queue.

How does this tie into social media marketing? Social media is nothing more than our world under a microscope. Sometimes marketers are too close to their own profession and don’t quite remember that it is as simple as that. They treat “social media users” as a different group of people altogether. This doesn’t particularly help since they sometimes fail to tap into human psychology 101.

Take your average Facebook ad. How often do you see a call to action that truly lures you in? In 2018, 69.95% of ads have included a CTA - a great jump from 2016’s 51.54% - but what do the rest of the ads (the 30.05%) include? They probably have some nice imagery. However, even if a picture is worth a thousand words, words (or in our world, “copy”) can elevate your ad to drive conversions. How? Enter FOMO.

The power of FOMO

How do you incorporate FOMO in your marketing efforts? Essentially, it’s about coming up with a “FOMO” proposition around your brand/product/service that’s too strong to pass.

There is a reason why ‘limited offers’ work. It’s all about framing what you offer in a timeframe. AdEspresso recently conducted a Facebook ad experiment to test three of the most popular CTAs; “Sign Up”, “Download Now” and “Learn More”. The “Download Now” CTA outperformed the other two by more than 40% in terms of cost per lead. Time-sensitive words like “now” and “today” work successfully because of the urgency they call out. You also want to make sure you call out your customer. You want to make it personal. According to Hubspot, personalised CTAs perform 202% better than basic CTAs. Words like “you”, “your”, “yours” make your copy instantly more approachable. All of a sudden, the ad is about them! They stop and listen.

What are people going to miss if they don’t join/download/buy/sign up to what you offer? This is a question that you can only answer after going deep into your social data and understanding who your audience is and where it lives on social. It could be a case where you discover that your main audience is more outgoing and sociable than the average social group. This comes with the assumption that they probably have a lot of friends they care about (and subsequently, care about their opinions) so you make it about their friends. You run a Facebook ad that is targeting people whose friends have joined YOUR Page and you go in with the hard sell: “Your friend is already part of [enter brand/product/service here]. Isn’t it time for you to join today?” This is one way to take advantage of our hardwired urge to not miss out on anything.

Common-sense marketing tells us we need to exaggerate about whatever we are selling. As a result, we focus too much on the specifications of the end-product and how well our brand compares to others. We make the sale about us. However, if you change the narrative and flip the mirror, a more persuasive argument is helping people see that if they don’t join you they will miss out on an opportunity that hasn’t been presented to them before.

Sophie Katsali is lead strategist at Wilderness

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