Talking about the fear of missing out (FOMO), many of you might have no idea what it is, but actually, you’re perhaps experiencing it at least once in your life. 

Let’s see! Your favorite brand discounted all items on Black Friday. Or everyone is going to a rock concert near your house and you’re thinking of going or not. You perhaps want to join the party but simultaneously holding back your desire. Take back your memories, and if you see yourself in these cases, you already suffer a psychological phenomenon called– Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

Once the FOMO inside you is enormous enough, and you’ll take specific actions to satisfy your desire, such as jumping in that concert or collecting some sale-off items in that store. 

With the leap of social media connectivity, marketers have leveraged the power of this phenomenon on social media to turn it into an effective marketing strategy. However, if using in the wrong way, FOMO can cause adverse effects for brands too. 

In this article, we’ll cover how FOMO impacts social engagement and what you can do with FOMO to increase social engagement. 

Table of Contents

What is FOMO?

How does FOMO affect social engagement?

Using FOMO to boost social engagement for your Ecommerce business


What is FOMO? 

You may be more familiar with FOMO now and already set a definition for it. Let’s see what the public talks about FOMO. 

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a psychological phenomenon in which a person feels left out because he or she missed out on something interesting. It’s the real phenomenon that is becoming more common in our daily life. It involves a sense of envy or regret that you are missing out on something big, something fun that others are experiencing. 

FOMO is everywhere and nobody knows exactly where it came from and who was the earliest sufferers. The phenomenon has been around for centuries and only becomes ubiquitous and popularly-discussed since the early years of the 21st century after the term “FOMO” first coined by Patrick J.McGinnis in 2004. 

The term FOMO is spread across the world and becomes such a universal term. Nowadays, with the breakout of social media, FOMO becomes unavoidable and exists in almost everyone in digital life. Oxford English Dictionary even defines FOMO as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”  

FOMO affects anyone, but most sufferers go to Millenials using social media. 56% of people afraid of missing out on events, news, and status updates if they’re not online or 60% of Millennials will purchase after experiencing FOMO. It’s not exaggerating to say that FOMO is the significant cause of social media addiction. 

It seems to be detrimental to social media users, but it benefits brands in some positive ways. In the next section, see how FOMO affects your social media engagement to leverage positive effects on your business.

How does FOMO affect social engagement? 

The fear of missing out is everywhere in our daily life. It increasingly happens when people use social networking more. The way people react to FOMO affects a brand’s social engagement differently, both good and bad.  

Positive effects

People are using social networking sites at a high rate and experiencing FOMO as a result. Did you know that 69% of Millennials suffer FOMO, and 40% of them will overspend to keep up with their friends? They can make impulse purchases not to regret later. 

That means this phenomenon can be an excellent trigger to customers purchasing behaviors. If brands can avail of this phenomenon, it can be a useful way of generating traffic and encouraging engagement in social media platforms

The fear of missing out is powerful. And the more relevant the content is, the more it causes them to take actual actions. Social media allows people to connect and share more easily than ever. You can update every hot news just by opening any social platforms on your phone and scrolling through your news feeds. And if you can have FOMO even via your friend’s post. 

Take a look at a list of dominating social platforms as FOMO contributors by Optinmonster

  • Facebook: 72%
  • Instagram: 14%
  • Twitter: 11%
  • Pinterest: 8%

Across these platforms, different industries cause different degrees of FOMO. Brands in each field can get to know which topic provokes FOMO for their audiences. This helps them innovate content on social platforms to be more relevant to their audiences. 

Negative effects

The studies showed that FOMO harms overall people’s mood and life satisfaction, and it negatively affects your social engagement as a result. 

It’s human nature that we often compare our lives to those of others. In the hyper-connected world, you can lay in your bed and see others living their life and start comparing – a bigger house, a more beautiful face, and a more exciting life than yours.

You may start admiring, go to envying, and then dissatisfying with what you currently have. This leads to pervasive anxiety or apprehension of missing out on what others are experiencing, which is a negative side of FOMO. When people are facing FOMO on social media overwhelmingly, it stresses them out, increases the negativity and depression – the feelings of inferiority, loneliness,  and social anxiety. 

There comes a solution. People step away from the Internet for a while to find peace outside social livesand leave those who bring in the most FOMO for them. As a result, it decreases your social engagement. And if you try to push your audiences out by cramming them into your FOMO, they’ll perhaps leave you for goods. 

Using FOMO to boost social engagement for your business

1. Limited-time offers

Creating a sense of urgency is an effective way to increase engagement and compel customers to buy from you. Put a time limit on whatever products or services you’re going to promote or sell. People will not want to miss out on your offer if they see terms, such as “Limited time only!” or “Only 24 hours left!”. 

You can also use a real-time countdown clock to drum up more urgency, then increase FOMO in customers. Realizing that the clock is ticking and the time is fleeing away can be a strong incentive. Your followers will quickly grab your limited-time offers when they feel like they’re missing out on the chance while people are enjoying the benefits. 

(Amazon’s Deals of the day)

2. Promote exclusivity

Naturally, people love exclusivity. That’s why exclusive offers are an effective FOMO marketing tactic. 

Creating exclusivity in your campaigns can activate your audiences’ FOMO. Having access to discounts or exclusive deals make us feel like having access to privileges that others can’t have. 

Create product offers or community groups that only specific customers can access to drum up their FOMO and compel them to join in. 

3. Start a user-generated content contest

A user-generated content contest is another effective way to create FOMO. 

The rule is that participants will create and submit their own content to get a chance to win. This kind of contest creates a strong incentive for your customers to participate. When it goes viral, FOMO increases in which people see others featuring on your channels, and they’ll want to be into gaming. 

The real content like self-taken photos or self-written texts provided by your audiences will create an authentic experience and build more trust for people who haven’t participated in your contest yet. 

You can create a giveaway that requires participants to write down their experiences with your products and post them on their social accounts with a specific hashtag. According to Adweek, 85% of users are influenced by user-generated content than the content made by brands directly. 

Adobe has made it successful with an innovative campaign on Instagram for everyone to share their works, experiences, and any moments of their life using a hashtag #CreateYourStory. 

With such UGC, Adobe not only showcases its products’ capabilities but also gets connected with audiences all over the Instagram community.

4. Add testimonials and social proofs

Social proofs and testimonials can be powerful incentives to activate your audiences’ FOMO. 

You are properly in a situation when you’re looking for a hair salon to get your haircut. Two names come up, and you start searching them on Facebook. 

One page has over 300,000-page likes and many positive reviews, while the other only has 50,000 likes, and it is hard to find a good recommendation. You’ll be more likely to choose the first option as you believe it’s better than the other. 

Put a lot of testimonials and social proofs in your necessary pages. Make sure you implement this tactic in the right way at the right time. Provide as much as details possible that show the testimonials and proofs you publish are real and trust-worthy. 

You can use social proof app to deploy this concept more effectively without much human touch. 

(Avada’s testimonials and social proofs at the home page)

5. Partner with influencers

In modern life, when social media and influencer/affiliate marketing are blooming, it can be devastating to miss out on something fun and interesting.

Notably, influencers are uprising their voices across social media, getting people to trust them. They can be celebrities, Bloggers, or YouTubers who are influential in specific fields. Brands can leverage their influence on FOMO marketing. 

Work with the influencers whose styles match your brand message and products. When collaborating with them, empower them to generate a positive message about your products. 

Determine in which platform your target audiences are mostly in and find influencers having an enormous impact on that platform. 


The fear of missing out is a powerful tool to boost your social engagement. 

You can use FOMO marketing in several ways to gain people’s attraction and make them engaged with your products. 

However, it’s also a double-edged sword, especially when it’s magnified by the Internet and social media. If you don’t implement FOMO marketing correctly, you can lose your audiences and even contribute to harm their mental health. 

With these tactics introduced above, you can ethically implement FOMO marketing so that you can get the best results without hurting your leads. 

Author bio: Jade Nguyen is a content creator at Avada Commerce, a book lover, and a hodophile. She loves to learn skills and practical knowledge to excel at marketing, especially content marketing. 

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