Research examines individual differences in fear of missing out, or FOMO.
- What Is Fear?
- Find a therapist to combat fear and anxiety
Do you fear you are missing out on the fun activities, events, and enjoyable experiences other people are having? Are you anxiously preoccupied with what your friends are doing, fear that others have not included you in their enjoyable activities, or are convinced that others are having more fun than you are?
If so, then you are familiar with the phenomenon of fear of missing out (FOMO). While fear of missing out is nothing new, it has changed over the years: FOMO used to be triggered only by “newspaper society pages, party pictures, and annual holiday letters.” These days, in this world of social media, “instead of receiving occasional polite updates, we get reminders around the clock.”
An important question is whether there are individual differences in FOMO, or if FOMO is purely a generational phenomenon (e.g., older people are less affected by it). An article published in the December 2020 issue of Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and written by Barry and Wong of Washington State University, provides some answers to these questions.
Methods and Results
The sample consisted of 419 individuals (98 males) between the ages of 14 and 47 years. The majority (73 percent) were White.
Measures included the following (sample items are in parentheses):
- Self-compassion scale: Measuring self-kindness, mindfulness, self-judgment, etc.
- Sleep condition indicator: Measuring sleep quality and sleep problems.
- Social media engagement: Determined by use frequency, number of accounts, etc.
- UCLA Loneliness Scale-3: (“How often do you feel left out?”)
- Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale: (“At times I think I am no good at all.”)
- Satisfaction With Life Scale: (“I am satisfied with my life.”)
Also included was the Fear of Missing Out Survey (FOMOS)—the standard version, plus two versions modified to emphasize the fear of missing out concerning relationships either with friends or with family.
The data showed fear of missing out was associated with loneliness, lower self-esteem, and lower self-compassion. Fear of missing out was not related to age.
So, compared to average people, those who had a greater fear of missing out were often more lonely and isolated, had a more negative view of themselves, and showed less self-acceptance and self-kindness.
How Do We Overcome the Fear of Missing Out?
So, how do we cope with the fear of missing out? One approach is cultivating self-compassion. Cultivating self-compassion means learning how to relate to ourselves with an attitude of care, kindness, and acceptance.
Self-compassion can help us counteract our preoccupation with what others are doing—such as constant upward social comparisons with those who have a strong social media presence.
Another approach is to make sure we have regular interactions with others (beyond online activities). Meeting face-to-face allows for interactions that are more real, rich, complex, and consequential, and thus more likely to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Last, it may be a good idea to stop using social media, as much as possible, during daily activities. Indeed, in the present study, fear of missing out was quite high in lonely participants or those low in self-esteem, both of whom routinely used social media in the middle of daily activities (e.g., while eating or getting ready to go to bed). FOMO was additionally related to sleep difficulties, and post hoc analyses suggested this might have been due to social media use before going to bed.
- What Is Fear?
- Find a therapist to combat fear and anxiety
To overcome the fear of missing out, consider the following suggestions:
Obviously get off Snapchat
FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, has risen in popularity over the past few years. Realistically, you can’t go to every single social gathering – but social media makes sure you’re reminded when you’re not.
To get behind the psychology of FOMO, and to hopefully find out how we can rid ourselves of this phobia, in an age when we have constant reminders of how amazing everyone else’s life is thanks to social media, I talked to Emma Citron, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, to see if she could shed some light on how to deal with this terrible and relentless affliction.
Why do we get FOMO?
I would say that the proliferation of [the use of] social media has often fuelled this, because everybody is posting happy, cheerful, exotic pictures, and therefore this fuels our psychological sense of “everyobody else is having a great time and we’re not”. But of course it doesn’t represent reality because that’s just a one second pose and act – there could be huge family arguments going on behind the scenes, [so] it doesn’t actually mean anything.
Do you think there’s been an increase of FOMO because of social media?
I think teenagers are particularly susceptible to it, [because] they can easily feel excluded and ostracised from their social group. It started with BBM, where if they were part of the equivalent of what is now a Whatsapp group, they would be aware of all the doings of their social group, and had been told face-to-face that actually the group weren’t doing anything, but they could see via facebook or elsewhere that actually a group was. So yes social media has been a huge part of this – I don’t think, for example, we even had a name for this FOMO before the spread of social media , so I think that kind of proves the point. … There’s always been exclusion within schools and social groups, even within adult social groups, but I think it’s much more in your face [nowadays] and it’s lead to a lot more insecurity.
Is FOMO a condition in itself? Can it be a sign of another condition?
No, it’s a sidekick to low self-confidence, of a low sense of self. It’s a particularly in your face trigger, a trigger to potential misery, but I think it’s up to the individual to seek help if it’s causing depression – go to their GP, get a referral, if it’s causing anxiety, then techniques such as CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy] can help a patient to really address the balance in their heads of what’s been going on and what they think is going on and what they think they’re missing out on .
There’s been a sort of backlash to FOMO, in the form of JOMO (or the Joy of Missing Out). Do you think this is a positive thing? Or do you think it could have a negative impact?
I think there can be too much emphasis on proving things to others so my reservation there would be that if you’re having a nice time and you’re happy, then why do you feel like you need to show anybody that, either in a positive way or in a slightly bitter way, which is what this JOMO sounds like? So just don’t get into the game, don’t get into that whole dynamic – if you’re happy in your relationships then go ahead and enjoy that, put your energy into that and stop worrying about what other people think.
So how can we go about dealing with our FOMO?
Just to look at the evidence, ask friends “was I really left out?” – … if you do have an insecurity, were you left out or was that just in your head, like a misconception? … Do a reality check, and find out what’s really going on, and whether indeed there are any issues with your social group. There may well not be, [but] … talk and be honest with your feelings.
Also make the effort to instigate social arrangements or get-togethers with friends, then you feel empowered and emboldened to take control of your social situation, and not to feel like a victim of it.
Use social media sites with caution especially if you know you are susceptible to feeling excluded. Do not trawl them. Do not spend any time searching or stalking what friends or exes are up to.
Rather than going down that misery route, I would say pick up the phone and be proactive, and make and arrangement to get together, rather than feeling all miserable about everything. You can be a sort of architect in your own life, you don’t have to feel like you’re a passive spectator I suppose.
Have you started using FOMO in your marketing strategy yet? If not, this article will teach you how it’s done!
The only regrets you’ll have in life will be for the chances you didn’t take. You’ve probably heard this, or at least some variation of it, from many wise men in almost every inspirational movie ever. It’s relevant for this article because it’s more or less the modus operandi of a phenomenon called FOMO.
On the off-chance that you’ve never heard of this term before, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” All humans have an ingrained fear of missing out on good opportunities, and this natural fear seeped into other spheres of life over time and began to be used as a marketing strategy.
The FOMO marketing strategy can be especially beneficial in today’s market, often referred to as the “attention market.” In this market, you have to try very hard to get anyone’s attention, and even when you do, it’s very short-lived. Therein lies the power of FOMO marketing. It’s all about taking full advantage of the small amount of attention you get.
In order to implement it, you’ll first have to understand exactly how it works, and then we can talk about strategies and ideas.
What Is FOMO Marketing and How to Implement It?
FOMO marketing’s goal is to entice your visitors to purchase your product instead of regretting their missed opportunity later on. It works splendidly well because most people are naturally risk-averse creatures, meaning they’d rather go for the sure thing.
That is why it’s your job to convince them that your product is something they’ll surely regret missing out on. And to make this happen, you need to create a sense of urgency that prompts customers to make an impulsive purchase, thereby significantly boosting your sales.
This technique, however, is probably easier to execute in physical stores. Drumming up interest that way is simpler because people feel more comfortable getting something based on a word-of-mouth recommendation.
But, not all hope is lost. There are a few things you can do to create the same effect on your eCommerce store. So, bring a pencil and take notes.
1. Use Social Proof
Social proof could just be the biggest trigger of FOMO and is, therefore, an item on this list you shouldn’t skip. Social proof can be used as that extra push you need to close a sale. That’s why it should always be implemented at the end of the sales funnel to seal the deal.
A great way of implementing social proof is posting customer testimonials or reviews of your products from other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Along with those, add interactive calls to action or video popups to convince the visitors.
The whole point of this is to generate buzz around your product that replicates the feeling of standing in line in front of a store, excited to purchase the same product.
You can use different social proof tools like WiserNotify, which can tell you who’s purchasing from you at the moment as well as give you an overview of your overall success with in-depth analytics.
Another great thing about these tools is that they automate the whole process, and all the popups you need can be created with them.
2. Time Is Money
One of the best ways you can entice people to purchase your product right away is to tell them that, if they don’t, it won’t be available anymore, and make them think that taking their time to decide is the wrong move.
The easiest way to do this is by showcasing only a few of the items left in stock or setting a time limit on your offers.
You’ve undoubtedly seen online clothing store ads pop up with a huge clock ticking in the center. So sure, it’s been done before, but it does work.
3. Offer Free Shipping With Your Special Deals
According to recent polls, over 87% of people think free shipping is the biggest incentive to buy anything online. That is why it’s essential to include it only in deals with an expiration date. If your store always offers free shipping, the sense of urgency is simply not there.
A good way to implement this, even if you regularly have free shipping over a specific price point, is to offer it for a limited amount of time for a lower price point or through a temporary discount code.
Coupons are also an excellent option to think about, as are last-minute discount popups.
4. Feature Missed Opportunities
Nothing will get a visitor to watch out for your next sale, like realizing he/she had already missed one previously. So once an offer expires, make sure to showcase what your visitors could have had if they acted fast enough. We’re talking things like popups or banners that showcase previous deals or just simply having an out-of-stock item that is soon to return still listed.
Feeling like they’ve missed out on a great deal creates a certain amount of anxiety and inspires visitors not to do the same thing again.
This is nothing but 100% pure FOMO, and it works in your favor.
While it might be relatively new in the field of marketing, FOMO has primal roots, going back to the dawn of our species, and that’s exactly what makes it such a powerful motivator.
Social media has only strengthened it in recent years, and the reason for this is apparent. Everything exists only in the now, and you know exactly what everyone is doing at all times.
Sure, FOMO can be a driving force of anxiety if not handled carefully, but it can also be a powerful marketing tool with no negative side effects if implemented correctly.
All in all, the FOMO marketing techniques we’ve listed above should help boost your business in an ethical yet efficient way. So make the most out of all your leads, and entice customers to act.
By Ditch the Label
FOMO. Fear of missing out. Whilst it is thrown around a lot on social media when you see some pals living their best lives and you are stuck at your Aunt’s birthday, FOMO can actually be a pretty difficult thing to deal with if you get it too much. Double booking, over booking, feeling guilty and not feeling happy about what you are doing can all be pretty crappy side effects of having too much FOMO. That’s why we wanted to bring you a few ideas that can help keep it bay, and get you back to enjoying life.
1) Have a detox
Try taking a little bit of a break from the social side of life altogether. This could be a weekend, a week or a little longer. Focus on yourself, and other aspects of your life like school or work. This time should help you get back to knowing who you are when you aren’t constantly chasing the next night out, festival or holiday.
2) Quit the multitasking
The world is pretty obsessed with multitasking. Everyone is doing a million things at once – eating, working, watching tv and answering the group chat all at once is a pretty standard Thursday evening right?
Well, turns out, the more you multitask in your daily life, the harder you’ll find it to focus on one thing at one time, and the FOMO will be strong with you. Try to cut back on the multitasking in your everyday life and it should be a good step towards leaving the FOMO behind.
3) Stop comparing yourself
We know this is easier said than done, but FOMO often comes from comparing yourself to friends and total strangers online and in real life. We all have a tendency to compare ourselves to other people, but there are things we can do to nip this in the bud.
Next time you catch yourself comparing your life, or plans, to someone else, try this: stop the thought in its tracks by breathing in slowly for four seconds and out for four seconds, and repeat four times. Then think of three things that are awesome about you, your life and your plans that you are comparing. This is a great trick that is bound to help you mellow out and enjoy yourself.
4) Focus on where your feet are
If you have decided to skip out on the music festival in favour of working, or that your friend’s house party can’t be more important than your cousin’s wedding, focus on enjoying the time you have in the place that you have decided to be.
It can be super tempting to spend these times chasing down the Instagram stories of people who have gone to the event you chose to say to no to, but this will probably only make you feel super guilty about not going, and mean you can’t enjoy the decision you have made.
5) Listen to your body
We’re betting that, at some point, you’ve dragged yourself to a party or a dinner even when you’ve been completely exhausted? Maybe even when you were legitimately unwell? One of the most crucial things you can do to defeat the FOMO is to listen to your body and not feel bad about that.
Next time someone invites you out when you feel like this, try to sit and list the pros and cons of going. It might seem pretty long-winded for a simple decision, but the more you do this, the more you will get better at recognising what you are physically capable of, and what is the FOMO.
6) Put relationships first
Putting the people you want to spend time with over the activity is a great way to not only bat away the FOMO, but also give you major friend/family/partner points. Thinking about that friend of a friend on Insta who has hopped over to Europe for a big festival this year? Make some plans with your bestie or hang with the family, or really anyone you really value. Putting the people above the thing, no matter what it is, will help you feel more grateful for the memories you are making right now.
7) Make the most of your alone time
Spending time alone can be pretty liberating. If you are dealing with FOMO on the daily, the chances are, you haven’t found that out yet. Schedule yourself some time alone to do a few things just for you – films, pampering, exercise – whatever it is, make the most of it. That way, if your FOMO is coming from not being able to afford that big trip away that all your mates are on, your time can be spent seriously chillin’, and you’ll be cool with that.
Feeling left out? Dealing with anxiety? Friends got you stressed out? Whatever is going on with you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.
FOMO is a powerful thing — sometimes powerful enough to spur a life-changing decision like buying a house, selling a property or refinancing a mortgage.
It sounds crazy, but in today’s red-hot housing market, Fear Of Missing Out is a real influencer.
Just take Sabrina Beaumont, the chief marketing officer for Passion Plans, a floor plan design company based in California. Beaumont had been looking “half-heartedly” for a house for almost two years, but when the pandemic hit and her friends started buying homes left and right, she decided to get off the sidelines and take action.
“I will admit that FOMO took over for me,” says Beaumont. “It really set in when my best friend bought her house.”
Beaumont quickly found herself up against steep competition. While she ultimately found and bought a property, she says buying at such a hot time cost her $30,000 and about 400 square feet.
“I should have bought one of the houses I looked at in the past, and now I regret not doing it,” she says. “I ended up getting into a bidding war and bought a house that was smaller and more expensive than ones I had previously looked at. I feel stupid about the situation.”
Feverish home sales and a fear of missing out
Housing inventory is currently at record-setting lows, and it’s made buying a home more competitive than ever. According to real estate brokerage Redfin, nearly three-quarters of all offers faced bidding wars in April. Even scarier? The average home is selling in just 18 days — the quickest pace ever recorded.
In a market as fast-moving as today’s, feelings of FOMO — and regret like Beaumont’s — are common.
“Low inventory is causing fear amongst those who are willing and able to buy,” says Dana Bull, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Real Estate in Boston. “Will more homes ever come available? Scarcity creates fear, and people are gobbling up homes that they may not even love just to secure something.”
It’s not just buyers who are vulnerable to FOMO, though. It’s happening on the selling end, too.
As Bull puts it, “They’re seeing neighbors and friends make huge gains when listing their homes and are debating whether they should take advantage of the opportunity. They fear this might be as good as it gets and should strike when the iron is hot.”
Talaya Waller is a perfect example. When two of her neighbors made a mint on their Washington D.C. condos last year, it pushed her to jump into the market, too.
“Selling was definitely a combination of FOMO from my neighbors and having to exist in my home more due to pandemic restrictions,” says Waller, a brand strategist and consultant. “Both of my neighbors made over $100,000 from their home sale.”
Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one who hopped on the bandwagon, and a flood of similar properties hit the market just as hers did.
Though she wasn’t able to make as much as her neighbors, Waller’s FOMO didn’t steer her in an entirely wrong direction. She took home $70,000 on her condo sale and is using the profit to buy a larger property.
For those not ready to sell, FOMO has also inspired its fair share of refinances. Krystle Harvey, who refinanced twice in 2020, says FOMO was a key player in her decision — especially the second time around.
“I wish I could say I made the decision based solely on math, but if I’m being honest, FOMO played a role,” says Harvey, a marketing coordinator for Walsh & Associates, a wealth management firm based in Florida. “I watched friends and colleagues buying new homes or refinancing, and I kept hearing about low interest rates in the news.”
Headlines about a new refinancing fee, which added 0.5% to the cost of all refinances after December 1, also pushed her to refinance a second time in October.
How to avoid a housing decision you’ll regret
You’re not alone. With homes selling at such a feverish pace and interest rates at near-constant lows, it’s pretty common to feel pressured in today’s market. As Bull explains, “FOMO is a valid feeling to be having right now. The sense of urgency and uncertainty that people are feeling is real. The stakes are high.”
The key, agents say, is acting on that FOMO responsibly by keeping your long-term financial goals in mind before you do.
“Clients are forgetting their big-picture goals in the hyped-up moment of multiple-offer situations,” says Emily Waldmann, a Realtor with DEN Property Group in Austin, Texas. “With so many properties going into multiple offers and significantly over the list price, people get hung up on wanting to win on a popular property, and they lose sight of their larger goals with the home purchase.”
Are you feeling a little housing FOMO yourself? Here are some other tips for not letting it get the best of you:
Have a backup plan.
“You need to have a plan — ideally a long-term plan and some backup plans. This holds true in any real estate market, but especially now when things are rapidly changing.
What happens if you sell your home now and prices continue to escalate? How disappointed would you be? What about if you wait, and prices come down? How will that impact your goals? If you buy a house today and pay a premium, will you be able to ride out a down market or will you outgrow the space too soon?
These are the types of questions I ask my clients. There is no right or wrong answer. The goal is to come up with a strategy so that people can make decisions with confidence.” — Bull
Keep your goals in mind at all times.
“You need to be really clear on what your goals are, so that you can evaluate each opportunity individually. Write them down, so that you can refer back to them when you’re in the pressure of the moment.
When working with clients, we always review this upfront and get really clear on what they’re looking for out of a purchase — whether it’s an investment that they plan to build wealth through or a location that they want to raise their family for the next 15 years.” — Waldmann
Don’t try to time the housing market.
“A lot of people are trying to time the market, acting hastily or holding off on making a decision and waiting until conditions improve. In the meantime, they are unhappy with their current situation. People should work on their timeline and buy and sell property when it’s optimal timing for them and their unique situation.” — Bull
Find good partners.
“This is the most competitive real estate market in history. Make sure you are working with the best real estate agent, lenders and attorneys to advocate for you. This is not amateur hour. You need people with expertise to help you navigate the current circumstances.” — Bull
FOMO is one of the few internet acronyms that has wiggled its way into psychology papers, the evening news, and every college counseling office in America. But what does FOMO mean, where’d it come from, and how do you use it?
Fear of Missing Out
FOMO is simply an acronym for “fear of missing out.” It’s a term that’s used to describe the anxiety of missing out on opportunities. Usually, feelings of FOMO are accompanied by the idea that someone else (friends, family, or coworkers) is taking part in the opportunity that you’re missing out on. It’s a bit like being “in the know” or keeping up with the Joneses.
FOMO is usually used to describe social situations. You may experience FOMO when you can’t go to a cool party or a concert with your friends, for example. For this reason, FOMO carries a very teenage or childish connotation, and the word crops up in just about every news article about millennials. (Psychologists and market researchers especially love the term.)
But FOMO is sometimes used to describe the fear of missing professional or “life” opportunities, like getting a degree, retiring before your 70th birthday, buying into stocks, or getting a promotion. It isn’t exclusively a “youth” phenomena, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use FOMO to describe “serious,” non-social situations.
Oddly enough, we have a decent idea of where the word FOMO came from. It seems the word was first put to paper in a 2004 edition of a Harvard Business School’s student paper, The Harbus, by a student named Patrick McGinnis.
In his article, McGinnis describes two opposing but intertwined forces: FOMO and FOBO. We already know that FOMO is the fear of missing out, and its use in McGinnis’ article carries the same social connotations that it does today. But McGinnis designates FOBO (fear of a better option) toward the idea of commitment. People suffering from FOBO may be reluctant to solidify plans, for fear that a better opportunity may appear at the last second.
In McGinnis’ article, FOMO and FOBO culminate toward an existential dead-end: FODA (fear of doing anything). When people are afraid of missing opportunities (FOMO) while simultaneously being afraid of commitment (FOBO), the result is social catatonia.
In a Boston Magazine article from 2014, Ben Schreckinger theorizes these acronyms were birthed from the circumstances of the late 1990s/early 2000s (9/11, the dot-com burst, the emergence of cellphones). But the word didn’t enter the common vernacular until the 2010s, when (according to psychologists) the feeling was growing among young people due to social media and internet use.
How Do You Use FOMO?
“How do you use FOMO” isn’t an empowering, existential inquiry. It’s simply a question of semantics. When do you use FOMO in a sentence? Is it appropriate to say FOMO to your boss, or will internet teenagers make fun of you for saying FOMO?
Let’s start with the grammar. Unlike “LOL,” it’s hard to intuitively stick FOMO into a sentence. That’s because, grammar-wise, the word FOMO has a ton of flexibility. You can use it directly in place of “fear of missing out,” or you can use FOMO as a noun, as if FOMO is a devil on your shoulder forcing you to feel anxiety or dread. And, of course, you can use FOMO as a funny internet word that breaks minor grammatical rules.
Here are a few examples of FOMO’s grammatical flexibility:
- In Place of “Fear of Missing Out”
- “I have a cold, but my deep-seated FOMO made me come to this party.”
- “His FOMO was too much to deal with, so he drove 2,000 miles to come to this concert.”
- As a Noun
- “FOMO made me come to this party even though I have a cold.”
- “Blame FOMO; that’s why he drove all the way to this concert.”
- As a Funny Internet Word
- “I have a cold, but I came to this party because FOMO.”
- “Why’d he drive so far for this concert? Because FOMO, dummy!”
Now that you know how to use FOMO in a sentence, you can start worrying about when to use the word. You should use FOMO only to describe a situation where someone is anxious about missing out on an opportunity. Again, this term usually applies to social situations (you can’t go to a cool party), but you can also use it to describe serious or professional situations (you and your coworkers stay late at work to pursue a promotion).
And don’t worry, kids won’t make fun of you for saying FOMO. It’s not really a trendy word or a meme, it’s just a modern descriptor for an age-old feeling that’s been amplified by social media. That said, your boss will probably think you’re childish for saying FOMO in a serious situation, so, you know, avoid doing that.
If you’re reading this article because of your personal internet-induced FOMO, it may be worth looking into some other freaky internet words. Words like “TL;DR” and “Yeet” are commonly used on social networks and in news articles, and understanding their meaning can save you from some FOMO down the road.
Getting Over your FOMO
There is no one standard definition for the term FOMO but it generally refers to “a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the Fear of Missing Out”. It is generally associated with millennials and is now making its way to even younger generations (although I have several older friends who live with this).
I appreciate the effects of FOMO, having seen it rear its ugly head with my 22-year-old son, particularly in his high school and college days. The frantic calls or texts that I would get as he was trying to decide between different social events and options. Oh the pressure of it all!
But there is another form of FOMO that is much different from how my son might define it, yet with equally widespread effects. The new FOMO I am witnessing on a frequent basis is the Fear of Marketing Older. It is a close relative of the term FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that is sometimes used by market leaders when warning customers about the potential perils of switching to one of their (smaller and relatively unknown) competitors.
Although we have uncovered several reasons why businesses and marketers are largely ignoring Active Aging consumers, in my mind FOMO is the one that represents the largest barrier.
Below is a common scenario and chain of events that happen when we are talking with many marketers:
- The prospective customer has heard about us (Age of Majority) and is intrigued by our messaging and what we do. We agree to discuss how we might be able to grow their business.
- We take them through compelling data which includes a combination of actual consumer spending, our proprietary research, and supplemental third-party data.
- We help quantify the potential “size of the prize” by highlighting the spending power of Active Aging consumers within their specific category along with their missed or untapped opportunity based on our knowledge and insights. It is at this point when the (first) lightbulb often goes off and the prospect starts to buy into the opportunity.
- The prospect asks questions usually associated with one of the myths and stereotypes that are pinned to aging consumers. We address each question using facts to dispel each myth while painting a true picture of the vibrant consumer group that has never existed before (and is often confused with Boomers).
- The (second) lightbulb goes off and the client is converted – they see a big opportunity to market to Active Aging consumers!
- We begin talking about next steps and an action plan; and then….
- FOMO sets in and he/she is reluctant to pull the trigger.
This is typical of the battles we fight in pursuing our mission to break the myths and crush the stereotypes and stigmas associated with aging. Our experience with FOMO in the marketing world really reflects the larger fight against ageism in society. Both involve deep rooted misperceptions about aging that have built up over a very long time.
Fear of Marketing Older is a tough nut to crack. Just like the saying used to be “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM”, the same can be said for “No one ever got fired for targeting millennials”. But getting over FOMO is possible if you follow these five (simple) steps:
- Follow the money – through a little bit of digging and sorting through readily available data, it will quickly become apparent that lots of opportunities exists in your specific category.
- Look around – “old age” ain’t what it used to be. Sure you will still find older consumers who are what we call Traditionalists – less independent, less mobile and not overly active – but they represent only about 25% of people over the age of 55. The vast majority are vibrant and active, with time and money to spend on products, services and experiences.
- Do the research – if you don’t believe the data, do your own qualitative and/or quantitative research to confirm the opportunity.
- Test & learn – after all, what do you have to lose? Sure, you might have to move some of your marketing spend to Active Aging consumers, but research suggests many categories (and possibly yours) are already over-investing in millennials and it’s not likely that you will lose any ground when it comes to revenue and profitability.
- Work with an expert – While you could ask your existing roster of agencies or consultants to come back with their perspective, most firms just don’t get it, especially given the FOMO effect. The myths and stereotypes around aging are often more pronounced in the marketing agency world (consider that just 5% of ad agency employees are over 50, and most are not in the creative department) compared to other industries.
Allow me the use of one last acronym: FEAR, which stands for False Events Appearing Real. It’s the idea that something can appear real – even though it may have no real substance – when we feel threatened, which makes us cling to what we know.
If you relate this idea to a Fear of Marketing Older, it is easy to see how marketers are still hesitant to target Active Aging consumers. With competitive pressures at an all-time high, now is the time to get over that fear and start marketing to the largest opportunity out there.
Nir’s Note: This post is co-authored with Stuart Luman, a science, technology, and business writer who has worked at Wired Magazine, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and IBM.
“I wish that I could be like the cool kids,” goes the catchy hook for the hit song by Echosmith. The official video has been viewed over 15 million times on YouTube, perhaps tapping into something deeper than mere adolescent angst.
We all want to be like the cool kids.
What is FOMO?
In 2013, the word “FOMO” and its definition were added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The “fear of missing out” refers to the feeling of “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” Although the terminology has only been in our lexicon for less than a decade, experiencing FOMO is nothing new.
Most people at one time or another have been preoccupied by the idea that someone, somewhere, is having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life. For those who skew towards such feelings, smartphones and social media have made it easier than ever to track what others are doing.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep tabs on people we care about. An important part of what makes us human is our need to be social. But recently companies have found ways to tap into this impulse to keep users coming back to their apps and websites habitually using what I’ve called the “Hook Model.”
Whether social media induces FOMO or simply makes it easier to indulge in our feelings is up for debate. It’s not surprising that something as new and transformative as this technology would have complex implications on our daily lives, both positive and negative.
The Research on FOMO
A study in Computers in Human Behavior featured a series of ten statements such as “I get worried when I find out my friends are having fun without me,” and asked participants to rate themselves from one to five on how well those statements correlated with their own lives. The study found that three-quarters of respondents (mostly college-age students) experienced FOMO. Those who scored higher were more likely to report lower life satisfaction and use social media immediately before and after sleeping, during meals and classes, and to engage in dangerous behaviors such as texting while driving. In a 2018 study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, limiting social media decreased loneliness and depression in a group of 143 University of Pennsylvania college students, where half were assigned to cut their social media use to 30 minutes per day while the other half continued their normal usage. After 3 weeks, the limited use group had significantly lower levels of loneliness and depression compared to the control group, suggesting a causal link. Films like the 2020 docudrama The Social Dilemma have reinvigorated the controversy over the harmful impact of social media.
Not all studies reach such negative conclusions. One study found shy and depressive individuals benefited from increased social media use and online relationships. Likewise, a paper in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found a positive correlation between college students’ use of Facebook and increased life satisfaction, civic engagement, and political participation.
It’s clear that we can’t yet fully grasp how new technologies affect our psyches. Regardless, it appears that they are here to stay. Therefore, it is up to us as users to figure out where, when, and how often to use these products and services.
How to Deal with FOMO
Here are a few suggestions for keeping gadgets and FOMO in check.
- Relish feeling out of the loop. Great things are indeed happening out there and sometimes you’re not invited. Admit that you are missing out and there’s nothing you can do about it. In fact, one approach may be to savor the fact. Blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash wrote about the “Joy of Missing Out,” a term he coined to describe the satisfaction of doing things on his own terms. Dash learned to find pleasure in JOMO after the birth of his son when he discovered the simple joy of getting home in time to give his son a bath and put him to bed.
- Take a hiatus from social media. Try staying offline for a day, a week, or maybe even a month. Examples abound of people cutting themselves off and waking up to the wonders of the real world. Steve Corona, former CTO of TwitPic, did just that. He took himself off social media for a full month. It changed his life. He read books, spent time with friends, meditated, ran three miles a day, and wrote a book. When he returned, he intentionally decided which sites he spent time on and which he didn’t.
- Use software to avoid succumbing to FOMO. Apps such as Moment for iOS, Space for Android, RescueTime for Windows, or SelfControl for Mac generate reports to help users see just how much time they spend online and set time limits. For those who need more radical solutions, Internet-blocking software Freedom or browser extensions such as Website Blocker or WasteNoTime block sites that cause unwanted distractions.
- Delete social media apps. It is not as radical as quitting Facebook altogether but is a quick and relatively easy way to reduce social media use when you are away from the computer.
- Get a detox. For those who need a full-on intervention, enroll in a digital detox camp like Camp Grounded. The camp is located two-and-a-half hours northwest of San Francisco and set on an idyllic property amid redwoods. At the camp, adults get in touch with their pre-smartphone selves by playing capture the flag, gazing at the stars, writing songs, and engaging in analog pursuits like print photography and woodworking. Rules are simple: No work talk, no watches, no outside food, no booze or drugs, and of course, no digital technology.
Clearly, what we see of others online isn’t a full representation of their lives. Instead, it’s personal social-media marketing, similar to the images of airbrushed models in fashion magazines that highlight and exaggerate only their most positive aspects. The inevitable disappointments, cringeworthy embarrassments, personal failures, and existential doubts are rarely seen in Facebook posts.
It’s also important to remember that most people experience FOMO to some degree and at some time. The uncomfortable emotion is normal and with the advent of social-sharing tools, increasingly common. However, understanding the feeling and finding positive ways to deal with it can help us be happier with our own lives without getting wrapped up in a fear that we might be missing out on what the cool kids are doing.
FOMO is something the majority of us suffer from most weekends!
Here are my top 5 tips on how to reduce the effect of FOMO or get over it completely!
There will ALWAYS be more nights out and drinking to be had but not always spare time to focus on yourself. Having time alone can be very beneficial as it gives us a chance to think about what WE want and practice some mindfulness.
GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA – seriously. Scrolling Instagram and Facebook endlessly will drive you insane. Indulge in your favourite TV show or book, get your mind off social media as all you will see it people “living their best life”.
Commit to something worthwhile the next morning that deserves your full attention (with no hangover!). This could be a walk with your friends/family or a spot of brunch. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’re going to be looking forward to!
Pick an early night over a late one! The benefits of sleep are amazing! You work hard all week so why not enjoy a long sleep so you feel energised for the rest of your weekend? That sounds great to me!
Get 40% off our new “10 Week Home Workout Plan” this weekend only. Just £29.99 which includes lifetime access to our Private Facebook Group where I’ll be in all weekend helping you all 🙂