FOMO, Social Proof & Chocolate Bars in Hong Kong

My sister Camilla is 2 years younger than me and she is and always has been my best friend; it wasn’t until I started to mature that my behaviour started to reflect this.

Between the ages of 5-10 we moved from England to Hong Kong until I was old enough to go to boarding school, which ended up being in Perth. While living in Hong Kong, every now and then we would go out for dinner as a family. Normally to the local Thai restaurant in Discovery Bay. After dinner, my sister and I were allowed to choose a treat from 7-11.

And I distinctly remember, the same routine would happen each time. We could have whatever we liked, but we could only have 1 each, those were the rules…

 

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Me and my sister Camilla with Granny 🙂

 

Camilla always used to wait to find out which chocolate bar I’d pic. If I picked a Twix, she would select a Twix, if I chose a Kit Kat, she would choose a Kit Kat… Sometimes I would be a little sh%^and switch my Mars for a Snicker at the last minute, which used to upset her.

Sorry Milly!

What was happening here is a pretty standard case of the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s nothing new, fear of missing out is in our nature. More recently this is referred to as FOMO and it has been amplified since the introduction of social media to our ecosystem.

 

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Have you ever had to que up to get into a nightclub or restaurant, only to find out that the venue is only half full once you finally get inside? Or perhaps you’re a keen golfer and your country club kept you on a waiting list for 6 months before your membership was granted, was that necessary?

The concept of social proof is nothing new, this is fundamental human behaviour. The fact is, when something appears popular, the perception of value goes mad. It’s no different with say, your LinkedIn profile.

What’s your profile doing to demonstrate social proof, that you’re a connected individual. This has a much larger impact than most people can imagine.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, executive, blogger, football player, investor or run a multi-national corporation we all are in the branding business.

Making the time in your busy schedule to be a frequent and regular contributor on social media networks, blogs and professional online communities help to position yourself as an individual who is actively involved within your industry.

A survey from MyLife.com found that 56% of social media users “are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social networks.”

Why are we even on social media?

I’d argue that it’s because we saw a couple of friends start using it, at first many of us would say, “I don’t do Facebook” …. Until eventually there was enough social poof and FOMO that we caved it and signed up.

Heck, even my Grandmother now has a Facebook account! She always knows what the family is up to and updates my Grandad so he isn’t left out…

We see ads like the image below all the time, we’re conditioned for FOMO.

 

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An example of FOMO utilised in an ad 1

 

Apple is another excellent example of a brand that smashes the ball out of the park with FOMO. The Apple watch became available for pre-order and took six hours for waiting lists to get backordered by 3 months. A notice on their website read “new orders of many models wouldn’t ship until the summer.”

Boom!

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Apple customers wait for doors to open

Studies show that 70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase, and product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions from manufacturers.

It blows my mind how even today, 90%+ of the LinkedIn profiles that I see don’t even have a single recommendation. I’m talking about successful business people who have been in business 20+ years, know half the people at the local country club, have a ton of clients and success stories….

But not 1 recommendations on their LinkedIn profile.

As is always the case, the problem presents an opportunity. How easy is it to stand out from the crowd? Get 2-3 recommendations and you’ve just shot your profile to the top 5% in your industry!

Crowds follow crowds. The game has changed, these crowds are visible for everyone to see online. Brands that outperform the herd know how to utilise social proof and FOMO in their communications. Are you leveraging this fundamental law of human psychology?

Share your experiences with FOMO in the the comments!

About The Author

Nathanial

Digital marketing, social media, entrepreneur, keynote speaker.

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