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The new FOMO:
Fear of mistakes online

The new FOMO:<br>Fear of mistakes online

By Amy Do
Social Director

Remember when scrolling through social feeds left you filled with FOMO—the humble brags from friends who escaped on far away vacations to the frenemy who just had to snap their 5am workout? Have no fear: 2020 has changed the FOMO game. The pandemic replaced aspirational paradise vacations with DIY projects, new hobbies and guides to everything: how to cook, speak French, read music and even TikTok. As day 147,584 of the pandemic rolls around, the allure wore off. Home projects were done, or as done as they were going to be, and you were starting to dream TikTok dances in your sleep. We all miss going out, and gave ourselves permission to binge mindless television and be lazy, but even then the greatest FOMO was human interaction. 

On May 25, 2020, society paused and social streams activated. The #BlackLivesMatter movement was re-ignited, storming social feeds and streets upon the death of George Floyd. Pandemic or not, there was no better reason to link arms and connect as a community for a movement that was long overdue. Opinions and politics aside, make no mistake: the empowered and outraged voices of Black individuals and communities are moving many mindsets, demanding change. Brands, advertisers, and agencies have a choice: to create the future or stay in the past. Unlike fleeting social trends we’ve seen in the past, the #BlackLivesMatter movement lives beyond trends. Pages and accounts like @attenwhitepeople have been created, hashtags like #BlackoutTuesday will continue to educate, and influencers of all sizes will pass the mic to brands seeking accountability. 

Accountability is an awakening, breaking away from the smokescreen filters carefully curated in feeds, going back to the initial appeal of social media: authenticity. Accountability and authenticity—Two words many, especially those who have been in the advertising industry for awhile, struggle with, therefore, creating a new form of FOMO - the fear of mistakes online. It’s understandable, we’re embarking on uncharted waters, therefore, mistakes are going to happen. Allowing this FOMO to paralyze your brand is the biggest mistake you can make. So as the community passes the mic, use your platform wisely. Be a part of the change, dare to have fierce conversations and accept your mistakes. To help with the discomfort, here are 6 mistakes we encourage you to start making to embrace the new FOMO: 

Mistake #1: Take the negativity out of making a mistake. 

In the moment of a mistake, it makes you feel helpless and vulnerable because it is also compounded by the fear of offending others. In reality, it paves a way of understanding that will educate you to move forward and build resilience. If you’re a brand dedicated to innovation and forward thinking, flipping the mindset on mistakes is discomfort you’re familiar with, one you encourage throughout the culture of your company as you learn from each other. 

Mistake #2: Be the star of your own reality show.

The goal is not to bring in drama but to show off your brand’s personality, to exercise authenticity. Social media and authenticity have been talked about in the same sentence ad nauseum, not because it’s inaccurate but because the majority of brands still fall short of this test. Today, the definition of authenticity has taken a new form. It’s not about having a sassy tone of voice like Slim Jim’s or Wendy’s on social media, that’s Real Housewives drama. It’s about finding a voice for your brand that sounds human, and speaking in posts as if you were there IRL. 

Mistake #3: Save a seat for social at the executive table.

Sure, adding another cook in the kitchen can get messy but having the perspective of the consumer early on prevents any reverse engineering of concepts. Social listening is key to formulate responses and conversations starters. Include someone who understands the community or social insights to represent the perspective of the community early on, rather than sharing the idea after the fact. Make sure the community has representation to be a part of the process, not an afterthought. Having a better understanding of behaviors and beliefs that are always on and unfiltered ensures authenticity because the source came directly from the community, a recipe for success. 

Mistake #4: Call a timeout if needed. 

Best practices have been ingrained in business brains to be politically correct. Your brand has done an audit and there’s work to do—mindsets to impact and policies to implement—while competitors are posting black boxes to show solidarity. Don’t let time and noise be a bully. Call a timeout to regroup, look internally and make change for the long run. You’ll be better for it in the end because your story will be one that is authentic and sparks change within your walls and amongst your consumers. 

Mistake #5: Ignore the competition.

The real competition is with yourself. With no playbook written, seize the opportunity to write the playbook rather than wait for it to be written. Knowing your brand and knowing what is right is all you need in your toolbox to set your own benchmark and strive to do better tomorrow. It’s that simple. 

Mistake #6: Post less.

Listen more. This last mistake is more of a mistake for brands to stop repeating. A common question asked about social media is about posts. How often? What channels? And when is the best time? At a party, when someone approaches you and introduces themselves, the rudest thing you can do is walk away. And to add fuel to the fire would be to turn away, talk to someone else and talk about yourself. Focus on the conversations in front of you: the answers are right there. Finding them requires you to listen. 

Go Forth. Dare to live in beta. Dare to be fearless and have conversations that make you pause for a minute or more. Dare to be awkwardly silent as you learn. Dare to do something than what you did yesterday—whether it’s fear of missing out, or the fear of making a mistake. 

Today, the biggest mistake you can make is not raising the bar on fear. If you’re encountering the same fear year after year, you’re not addressing the problem, you’re not striving towards your greatest potential. Your greatest weapon as a brand is your purpose, and your greatest tool to connect with consumers is your voice. Don’t let either sit in your toolbox untouched. Your consumers, your employees and the future are calling.


Barkley US

Aug 26, 2020

filed under:
Media, Social Media, Whole Brand

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Consumer Products, COVID-19, Media, Millennial, The Useful Brand
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