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Commentary: Are You Part of the Problem?

Posted on 6.30.2015

By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor

Web professionals have a serious FOMO epidemic on their hands. In fact, FOMO, which stands for "fear of missing out," leads many enterprises to spend valuable dollars on initiatives and technology that may not always (or ever) be the best fit for their individual business. Take social media use for example.

On a personal level, Web professionals are part of the 70 percent of users who log on to Facebook daily (including 45 percent who do so several times a day) to ensure they see the latest "news" articles, as well as posts from their friends and family. Similarly, 49 percent of Instagram users are on the platform daily, with 32 percent indicating they go on the social network several times a day, according to Pew Research.

What are they getting in return? The real-time nature of social media ensures users don't miss a beat - never wondering if they are missing out on something that could make them smarter, faster, stronger. Perhaps top social network users are the ones fueling this FOMO problem.

The same could be said of social media for business use. While there are countless social media solutions that can truly propel a brand's online acquisition and retention efforts forward, the majority of companies participating in social are getting little in return. In fact, 92 percent of marketers indicate that social media was important to their businesses last year (SocialMedia Examiner), but a new TrustRadius report found that measuring social media's return on investment is still a top challenge for marketers (well over 50 percent). In other words, brands are not getting back what they are putting in (time and money). Why are they still bothering?

Marketers are fearful they'll miss out on what they presume others are getting - loyal, engaged customers/users by the boat load. Companies must evaluate their social media investments through actual data - people reached, website visits, actual conversions - anything short of that is simply participating for fear of missing out.

Regardless of how businesses are profiting from social networks, they are (in some fashion of their current selves) here to stay, as the FOMO problem will only deepen with Internet users expecting real-time access to information, brands and peers. Not only should Web professionals evaluate (and evaluate quickly) what they are getting out of their social media initiatives and find ways to update accordingly, they should also avoid jumping on every new social network's bandwagon - even if that means proving ROI on one social network before moving to another and being considered "uncool" in the process. After all, those brands flocking to emerging social media networks have yet to prove they are doing so for more than just the fear of missing out. Those that have, however, are ones that are following the new networks because that's where their audience is.

Taco Bell, for example, is a digital pioneer when it comes to using Snapchat for business. Snapchat, with its mostly millennial user base, is a fit for the audience Taco Bell has and wants to pursue - also millennials.

Before chasing the next-best greatest solution, social network or even strategy, be sure to take a step back and look at data that will drive ROI to determine whether the decision is FOMO based or bottom line based.

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