using the potential of FOMO with the help of online contests

Short description

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a fundamental aspect in digital marketing, fueled by the need to compare ourselves to our family, friends, and colleagues on social media. This drive leads to FOMO, driving individuals to do things they wouldn’t normally do to avoid missing out. A way businesses can leverage FOMO is by creating attractive contests that offer exclusive prizes and opportunities which attract users to participate. Contests are cheaper for businesses than extensive advertising or buying contact lists, whilst users get something unique that they wouldn’t have otherwise. These contests can build long-term relationships, sign-up new customers, and distribute exclusive offers via email marketing.

using the potential of FOMO with the help of online contests

Prompt: A young man scrolls through a social network on his phone, headphones, crosses the road, five fingers.


There are many aspects of psychology at work in digital marketing, but FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is perhaps one of the strongest. Examining what causes FOMO and why its effect on internet users remains so strong will help businesses looking to get more engagement and traffic to their website and social media.

Knowing how FOMO works and why it drives action online will help us run more successful and popular contests and sweepstakes. In this article we:

  1. Consider how contests can affect users’ fear of missing out (because participation gives them something they didn’t have before or couldn’t get in any other way),

  1. We will show examples of attractive contests with high performance.

What is FOMO?

FOMO is an acronym Boston Magazine claims was coined by an MBA student (translator’s note: master of business administration) Harvard Business School in 2004. Missed opportunity syndrome is, in practice, the feeling that you are not a part of something; such as conversations or events. Whether it’s a party you can’t go to (or haven’t been invited to) or a trip you can’t afford, people feel increasingly pressured to live up to others (sometimes called “keeping up with the Joneses”), which leads to exhaustion and burnout.

FOMO drives us to do things we wouldn’t do, just to make sure we don’t miss out. The syndrome has existed throughout history. As innovation pushed the boundaries of what was possible, this fear drove people to save and spend money to try new things like trains, cell phones, and home computers.

And in today’s digital world, the pressure associated with the need to compare oneself with others is stronger than ever.

How is FOMO integrated into the work of social networks?

Because social media and public resources allow us to see what our friends, family members, and colleagues are up to, it becomes natural for us to compare our lives to those of people we know (and some we just admire from afar, like movie stars and famous athletes ).

According to The Washington Post, what people post online is usually only a tiny, positive part of their overall real life. But this distorted picture continues to fuel our obsession with matching our network of acquaintances and famous people. We want to take the same trips or use the same makeup as the people we look up to. This drive has a huge impact on the sale of travel, leisure and merchandise.

For example, entrepreneur and opinion leader Kim Kardashian’s new fragrance line KKW was launched online only (so customers couldn’t even smell it beforehand until they visited the Los Angeles boutique where sales took place) and still sold out online in six days, grossing an estimated $14 million.

Many people look up to celebrities and other internet users like Kim Kardashian, making whatever products or sensations they try irresistible to those who aspire to her lifestyle.

Even if we compare ourselves to celebrities or popular internet bloggers, we are still comparing ourselves to the content of our social network. If a colleague buys a new iPhone or a university friend goes on a trip to Greece, many people suddenly feel a surge of curiosity and want to do the same. It’s the feeling that makes FOMO so powerful that companies can exploit online by turning promotions into something fun and intoxicating that gives users a piece of what they don’t have.

Harnessing the power of FOMO with contests

By creating attractive contests that offer prizes and opportunities that users can’t get otherwise, users don’t have much qualms about entering the contest, thereby providing the organizer with their data. This information can then be used to distribute future promotions, content and exclusive offers to members via email marketing (or social networks – translator’s choice).

Contests are often cheaper for a business than extensive advertising or buying contact lists (in many cases, these options have a lower conversion rate). Users get prizes they likely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and businesses get more customers on their email list to try to build long-term relationships with: it’s a win-win for both parties.

Ideas for prizes and competitions

One type of contest that is very successful is the once-in-a-lifetime contests that people can’t get anywhere else. If a contest gives the user an exclusive pass behind the scenes of their favorite talk show, a private dinner with a chef who doesn’t usually offer private dinners, or a chance to meet someone the general public doesn’t normally get to see, there’s a good chance the contest will be much more popular .

The balance between something unique and something that really piques the interest of users, what they would like to experience or receive, is the “golden mean” of many types of contests.

Raffle of technologies

Another type of giveaway that continues to be successful are those featuring Apple products, as they are popular with celebrities and tech experts alike; however, they can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Apple products are also readily available, so if you’re struggling to come up with something more unique, try their tech newbies or kits. Amazon Fire tablets, Google Home devices, new Samsung smartphones and other popular technologies can also make great gifts. Users like to receive the latest technologies, especially if they have long wanted to implement them in their lives.

Gift sets

In addition to offering prizes that a person cannot afford on their own, the temptation to make users’ lives better makes the connection between FOMO and the dream of making life easier. Some of the most popular sweepstakes offer a huge array of goods and services – such as a full vacation (which includes spending money, hotel and airfare) or a complete office space redesign that allows winners to choose a new desk, computer, monitor and printer.

To make your promotion “faster, stronger”, think about how you can combine prizes to make them more impressive. It doesn’t always have to be thousands of dollars – even a set of several office supplies is more attractive to potential participants than a pack of pens or a single notebook.

What’s more, entrants not only get a chance at a bigger prize, but you can also use this opportunity to sign them up for your mailing list or rewards/loyalty program. This will help them earn rewards for future purchases from your business. Such a long-term rewards program will help build loyalty and trust between target customers and the company. Strengthening relationships can be done with any hand; just make sure participants are clear about what they’re agreeing to.

Contests can give users insight into how to make their life more like that of their favorite thought leaders or make it a lot easier with items needed for work or family care. By offering a contest that takes into account the wants and needs of your target customers, you can give them something unique that is not always possible in other cases. Consider leveraging FOMO by offering sweepstakes on social media, making contest entry simple and accessible.

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