FOMO: Do You Fear Missing Out?

Some University club nights are run by a company called ‘FOMO’ — and rightfully so, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. Amongst the students, a great deal of fear surrounds bailing on a club night out — what if you were the only one who missed out on a great event? Like they say the grass is always greener over the other side.

In psychological terms, FOMO is a cognitive bias defined as the fear experienced by individuals when faced with the thought that they might miss out on a social occasion, a new experience, a profitable investment or a satisfying event (Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan & Gladwell, 2013).

Importantly, this cognitive bias doesn’t just benefit club promoters desperate to fill up their venue, it can be very beneficial to many different brands. For example, did you download Pokémon Go? Initially I didn’t have much interest in the game — but after all my friends and colleagues downloaded the game, my fear about missing out on a social occasion led me to cave. Furthermore, due to the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) nature of the game, gamers continue to experience FOMO — if they don’t have the app open on their phone, how can they expect to catch the Pokémon they are aimlessly strolling past? FOMO causes the Pokemon Go players to not only download the game, but also assists in ‘hooking’ the player.

At some points in our life, we have all experienced FOMO — whether it is because you’ve stayed in to finish an essay rather than heading to your favourite club night or because your phone isn’t compatible with the Pokémon Go app.

Have you utilised FOMO on your company’s website? Many businesses are already implementing and benefiting from this biases — is your business? If not, don’t worry, Scenario is your answer — this new platform takes the guess work out of optimisation as it selects tactics (based on these persuasion principles) specific to your website and your audience and then allows you to easily test your changes (in the A/B format).

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