Social media, digital marketing, and the strategies that we put in place for our brands, organizations, products, and communities are subject to change. This change can be data informed, tied to social media functionality changes, or audience focused pivots.
So much of our roles, our creativity, and our marketing is often reviewed and compared to our peers, benchmarked against competitors and brands that often exceed our community and budget scope.
This comparison window shopping of social media and the rate of change of the technology can lead to a fear of missing out. This can manifest for social media strategists as a fear of our strategy and our social media presence being stagnant, behind, and slow to adapt to either new social media platforms and new functionalities within existing social media channels. Fear of missing out is colloquially known as FOMO.
Let’s explore the social media underpinnings of FOMO and how to ground your strategy.
Recognizing Fear of Missing Out and Social Media Underpinnings
According to the National Institute of Health, FOMO is a relatively new psychological phenomenon. At this time, it is not a diagnosable mental health disorder, however these feelings may be short-term episodic, long-term, or a continual state of mind. FOMO itself has its roots as a behavior in social media and can impact mental health, social functioning, sleep, academic performance and productivity, neuro-developmental disorders, and physical well-being.
As professionals working in an industry which thrives on comparison, and in part produces FOMO, it’s critically important to recognize the negative aspects of social media, the signs of FOMO, and build an arsenal of tools and strategies that can help combat this within our organizations, reducing the impact on our strategies, and its impact on us as humans.
Diagnosing the Source of your FOMO
We’ve all been sent articles by well-intentioned colleagues, superiors, and even been asked by friends and family about new social media functionality and channels. We all groan when we hear new platforms, social functionality mirroring, and are jaded by the promise of a Twitter Edit button, or shifting formatting for videos.
It’s important to understand where your FOMO is coming from. The heart of FOMO is comparison. It’s helpful to understand if your FOMO is coming from imposter syndrome, from pressure from stakeholders to make content viral, chasing new, shiny, pretty social media functionality, or the “shoulds” – the perception of what you should be doing with your marketing.
The gut reaction to new platforms, new functionality can trigger FOMO – a reactive state of comparison and a fear based consideration to pivot your strategy. Transition a reactive state to proactive strategy leveraging data and taking the time to evaluate your next steps.
Ignore the Buzz: Combat FOMO with Time and Data
There are 526,000,000 news article results for the latest social media platform, Be Real and 43,700,000 news article results for the Twitter Edit Button, as of early September. Many of these articles make grand sweeping gestures that do not reflect the nuances of your industry, your organization, or your community. Apply the lens of industry, organization and community to keep your FOMO grounded. What strategies can you deploy:
- Pause to reflect on your organizational goals, your overarching strategy, and your holistic social media will help prevent the reactive FOMO state.
- Inform and educate your stakeholders. Start a conversation with leadership and key stakeholders to explore how social media can be leveraged for your organization, what type of investment your organization can make in social media, and if you can scale your social. Make a business case for maintaining or growing your arsenal of new social media platforms.
- Review of organization’s ability to adapt a new technology and new platform. Can you invest in a new platform, new technology, new process, and content strategy? An actionable and consistent social media audit can help review your ability to scale.
Let Your Audience Be Your Guide
A content strategy, community strategy, and product strategy should be grounded in your organizational goals. Your social media presence should be grounded in your audience presence on that platform and the adoption and consumption of content on those platforms.
In a month, the average user will visit 7.5 social media platforms. The level of audience engagement on social media platforms and the content you produce for those channels are different and should be customized. However, it’s important to note that your organization or brand social media presence does not need to be on all platforms.
Pivoting to a new platform or functionality before it’s been tested, proven, and adopted can be innovative or detrimental. Your risk aversion as a strategist, your organization’s risk aversion, data, industry insight, and competitive analysis can help you pivot, not driven by FOMO but informed by experience.
What strategies can you deploy to replace FOMO with audience focus?
- Take Micro View Not a Macro View: Review your audience and consumers needs, goals, and adoption of new content. Be Real, Tiktok, and Youtube shorts are valuable for engagement in younger audiences 18-24 but the content investment and strategy may not make sense if your audience is older or not on these platforms.
- Consider Engagement and Conversation: In Christine Melaas’ NISM blog post “Don’t Follow the Crowd” she reflects on the engagement and two-way conversation. When you publish content to social media, people expect you to have a two-way communication with them. How will you interact with your audience on a new platform, will this new functionality help you reach new individuals or deepen the conversations you have now.
Additional Proactive Strategies to Combat FOMO
Sometimes a social media platform is untested and the adoption is low for your audience but you as a social media manager determine this platform may have some merit. Secure your handles, explore the platform as a professional but not managing it as a brand, get familiar with its potential.
Social Media Changes as a Roadmap to Monitor Trends
Rather than reacting to trends, technology updates, pay attention to global platform changes. These new functionalities are a road marker, signaling changes in consumer consumption and expectation. An example of this would be the explosive growth of Tiktok videos and the corresponding new functionalities across platforms like Instagram Reels, Youtube Shorts.
Invest in Continued Education
Strategists and marketers need to stay on top of platform evolution but our recommendations need to be founded in continued education and sound strategy. The National Institute for Social Media webinars are a valuable asset to a strategist looking to stay on top of changing social media.
Start the Conversation with Other Strategists
Help combat your own imposter syndrome, share your experiences, and build a network of social media and marketing professionals. Ask their advice on platforms, new functionality and how they are adapting and pivoting.
Deploying these strategies can shift reactive FOMO to proactive strategies to the changing landscape of social media marketing.
Author: Katy Spencer Johnson, SMS
Katy Spencer Johnson, SMS (she, her) is a Social Media and Content Strategist, Educator, & Marketing Consultant. An advocate for social media best practices and digital literacy, Katy has worked in higher education, non-profit, finance, healthcare, and publishing industries, building content and community. Katy is the Director of Marketing and Communications for House of Possibilities, a non-profit disability services provider on the Stonehill College campus in Massachusetts. Connect with Katy on Twitter @katyb_spencer and on LinkedIn.