FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is that feeling that everyone is having more fun than you are. You know it—it’s how you feel when you scroll through your social media feeds and see all those shiny, happy people doing shiny, happy things as you scramble just to get through your day.
As Nick Borelli, president/strategist of Borelli Strategies told a rapt audience at an IMEX America 2016 session on the topic, FOMO “has been weaponized by social media.” Even though we know that it’s not necessarily real—we tend to only share our best sides and most interesting experiences on social media, not the bad and boring bits—FOMO is a powerful emotion.
Here are five ways you can use it to draw more people to your event.
1. Selfie stations. Everyone seems to have a love affair with selfies nowadays, he said. They want to share proof of their engagement with the experience. “It’s part of the new currency,” he said. “Like how many followers you have on Instagram.” Selfie opportunities should be integrated into the design of your event so people will automatically understand what to do when they see them, Borelli said.
To get the most impact, selfie stations should demonstrate both context and exclusivity. People like to take pictures of things that are iconic to the destination so they can prove they were there. Likewise for your meeting or event—provide props that people would only be able to find at your event. Also, he said, “Giant stuff works.” Big props tend to be big draws.
“Know your audience. Who and what would your people want to take a picture with?” While it might not work for other groups, Borelli said Comic-Con attendees lined up to take a selfie with the original Superman costume. Do you have any celebrities (or superstars in your industry) who people would love to take a selfie with and share?
2. Snapchat geofilters. Event organizers and participants can buy on-demand Snapchat geofilters (with or sans logos) that can be overlaid on Snaps from an event. You can overlay the destination city’s name over a hotel view, or your event’s logo over shots from the general session, or even an exhibitor’s booth number over photos of the trade show (and watch the Millennials come running, said Borelli). Organizers purchase the geofilter for a specific location, say the convention center exhibit hall, for a specific period of time, say noon to 5 p.m., and the custom geofilter displays for all snapschat users in that area during that time.
3. Include totally random, crazy things that aren’t on the schedule. When you throw in a wild-card element, it will get videotaped, photographed, and shared—and drive FOMO. One example Borelli gave was a surprise performance by the band Mac Sabbath, which sings MacDonald’s-related lyrics to heavy metal songs. “No one will expect that!”
Create something that’s only available there and then at your event, and encourage people to share it. Make people who weren’t there mad they missed it.
4. Don’t be afraid to use video. “Nothing makes people want to be in your experience more than video,” he said. But don’t just randomly video event elements; storyboard the experience to make sure it is compelling and cool. You can do green room interviews, post-presentation Q&As, livestreaming—but don’t post entire sessions on Facebook. Post short video clips to social media sites and link back to a longer version of the presentation on your website.
5. Influence your influencers. Find out who your most outspoken and influential attendees are—they may not be the obvious choices, so base your identifications on readily available data from social media. Engage them and reward them by giving them special perks, even if it’s just something as simple as sending them a note thanking them for being so vocal about your event.