FOMO: Brands that know how to use it.


Making its debut in the Oxford dictionary in 2013, the term FOMO (fear of missing out) is by definition“a feeling of worry that an interesting or exciting event is happening somewhere else.

Whether you think the word deserves an official spot in the English language or not, there is no denying that it is very real. At the center of the phenomenon are millennials, a generation that will spend more on experiences, such as travel and live events, over stuff. Moreover, 90% of millennials are turning to social media each day. And not far behind are the next wave of up and coming consumers, Gen Xers, with 77% of them dialed in on social media.

These are generations growing up in the digital age, where there is an unprecedented desire to connect and know what is going on around them no matter how mundane. A result of growing up with technology and the ability to gain access to information at the click of a button, young consumers have not just adopted social media as a tool but have transformed it into a behavior, spending up to 3 hours a day scrolling through their feed.

What brands can do is leverage the desire of belonging to develop meaningful and lasting relationships with their audience. There are generic tactics such as flash sales and count down clocks that play on FOMO. We see this with paid shopping ads that pop up on your IG feed;

However, brands like boxycharm, Wayfair, FitFabFun, and By the Way have mastered the art of leveraging FOMO, by focusing on exceptional content development to entice audiences through exclusivity, interactive experiences, and social proof.


Exclusivity is a powerful tool and the strategy isn’t just reserved for luxury brands. Brands such as boxycharm with subscription-based services generate a sense of scarcity and desire.

Promoting waiting lists, using sneak peek ads, and referring to subscribers as “Charmers,” they are building an image of a highly desirable community, but one that so many want to be a part of that it’s in high demand.

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Interactive Content

Wayfair knows how to engage when it comes to shopping ads. What better time than the present to give people buying power? By incorporating interactive elements to content, not only do ads entice audiences through beautifully styled “dream” rooms, but they allow customers to explore the image, click furniture or accessories they are interested in, and end up with an item in a shopping cart within minutes. Moreover, clicked items can be tracked and follow up with nudges for a percent off the first purchase or a limited-time sale for item categories to add even more urgency.

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Social Proof

At the end of the day, most people want to do what others are doing. Its FOMO heard mentality. As perfectly defined by Buffer, “ Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.” Buffer outlines six types of social proof including by way of experts, celebrities, the user, wisdom of crowds, peers, and certification.

FabFitFun was one of the first brands on social media to use celebrities for unboxing videos on social media, highlighting each item and offering a special promo code.

Another tactic is social media takeovers, where brands bring in influencers or users to vouch or let audiences behind the scenes through IG or Facebook stories. Washington Post’s By the Way opened up their feeds to reporters and followers as featured guests to share new perspectives and give a personal touch to storytelling.

By the Way showcases locals from around the world as travel guides giving tips and insider secrets for the places you want to visit.

FOMO is at the core of social media obsession; however, brands have to deliver on their promise. If you decide to hype your audience through scarcity, engagement, or endorsements, customers need to feel they got what they expected out of it. Brands that are feeding desire the right way can capture audiences and maintain a loyal following.

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