FoMO: Why Fear of Missing Out Could Hurt Your Social Media Efforts.

Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) has been described as “the fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity.” This fear can apply to missed social interaction, experiences, investments, new movies, apps, anything. Ultimately FoMO is fearing that we made the wrong decision on how to spend our time. I believe FoMO is pervasive among marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs and business owners when it comes to social media. Fear of missing out on the latest social app or network can seriously hurt social media marketing efforts.

Social Media Marketing
SOURCE: Brian Solis and JESS3 from https://conversationprism.com/

Some report there are over 800 social networks, apps and services. That number is overwhelming and it feels like there is a hot new social network popping up every other week. A couple of years ago it was Pinterest, then Instagram, Tumblr and Vine. Now it is SnapChat, Yik Yak, Yo, Meerkat and Periscope. What will be next? With the changes in social media happening so quickly, marketers and advertisers always feel left behind and like they must rush into every new thing.

The truth is that you should never rush into any social media action because of FoMO. Any good social media effort should first start with listening. If you are jumping into SnapChat because it is the latest channel to get buzz in the press, how do you know what to say? How do you know what works? How do you even know your target audience is there? Did you ever meet someone who only talks about themselves and never listens? Fairly quickly you learn to avoid those people. The same thing can happen in social networks with businesses that rush to start talking in new channels.

You should also never rush into any social media action because social media results take time. Results only come from significant planning and time investment into creating valuable content. Despite all the talk of ROI and immediate measurement, social media marketing doesn’t give immediate return, like a new TV campaign that can spike retail sales the weekend you run it. You must put in significant effort over time to see real results in social media. How much time?

Tom Martin from Converse Digital polled digital marketers and asked how long it takes to see results from social media marketing. Most respondents felt 6 months was a fair average, but only if you were doing it right. Comments to the post from people such as Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute chimed in with time frames of 6 to 9 months or 12 to 18 months.

Susan Gunelius in an Entrepreneur article explains that successful social media marketing requires following the Law of Patience. She says, “Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.”

Raffe at Transcending Social Media asks and answers this question in a different way. How long does it take for you to create a loyal following? Social media is all about engagement, relationships and listening. It can take months to curate a community by targeting them with articles, pictures, videos and other content that fosters engagement. Raffe concludes by saying, “Don’t be fooled into thinking that because social media is an instantaneous means of communication that a community will simply spring forth from the ground. Your customers will support you, if you work at it.”

Jaybird Social Media brings a dose of reality simply by saying, “If your social media consultant is suggesting that you can make it big overnight on the Internet, she is relying too heavily on the idea that memes and campaigns can go viral. Going viral is like winning the lottery.”

Hopefully by now you are feeling less fearful about missing out, but what does it mean to do social media right? Converse Digital suggests investing your time in three key areas:

  1. Invest in a solid strategy. Spend time to go through a social media marketing process. For example, always start with business objectives, target audience and listening.
  2. Invest in great content. People don’t share “blah.” What you create and share has to be excellent. It has to entertain, educate and simply be interesting to get shared online.
  3. Invest in quality people. Who is going to be the voice of your brand? Invest in experience and knowledge and training. No offense against college students, but don’t put your entire brand’s social presence solely in the hands of an intern.

Jaybird Social Media adds some great insight by saying you should spend your time on social media where your clients, prospects or customers spend their time. No need to jump on a trendy new network if your customers and prospects are not there. Jaybird also suggests optimizing your time with tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer or HubSpot.

In a past blog post I wrote about David Higdon, NASCAR’s IMC Managing Director and how I heard him talk about the brand’s remarkable overhaul at a conference. Through social media they were able to achieve amazing results and engage a younger fan base, but it was accomplished through a 3-year plan.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t experiment with new social channels, but don’t let FoMO rush you into to not taking the time to do it right. And don’t let FoMO scare you into pulling needed resources from your existing social channels to rush to that trendy network or app. It reminds me of a saying from my advertising days that says, “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.” Do it right the first time and you won’t miss out on anything.

Take a breath. Take a step back and listen before you leap. If you are not on any social networks yet then you probably are missing out. The good news is that by waiting you now have over 800 to choose from!

This post originally appeared on Social Media Today here.