Psychology behind Fear of Missing Out

Trustmary teamTrustmary team
Last edited: June 20th, 2024
social proof is crucial in marketing

What if you could build urgency and turn leads into customers faster?

When you use fear of missing out in marketing, you’ll be able to do just that.

Let’s go over:

  • The psychological foundation of FOMO and social proof
  • How FOMO relates to marketing
  • How to use FOMO in marketing
  • Some FOMO marketing examples

What Exactly Does FOMO Mean?

At some point in our lives, we worry about not being able to catch up with others. Sometimes, we even want to be in two different places at the same time

While you are at Beth’s Dinner party, and your friend Klaus is also having a party, you secretly wish you could be present at both parties…. While this is just a random example, this happens because you are scared of missing out.

Basically, FOMO simply means the “fear of missing out”. Naturally, we human beings have the tendency to worry about “missing out” because we are a risk-averse species.

The advent of social media has really contributed to this surge in the fear of missing out. This is because so many people post the glamorous part of their lives on social media. It tends to make other people feel like they are missing out when they cannot live up to the standards created by the glamorous people.

However, what so many people forget is the fact that people only show you what they want to show you on social media. They leave every other part out and you do not get to see the imperfect side of their lives.

What Does FOMO Have to Do with Marketing?

Although FOMO literally has to do with the fear of missing out, it is actually a form of marketing that can be used to your advantage as a business person.

What is FOMO marketing?

FOMO marketing is a form of marketing where you leverage the consumer desire to grab every opportunity that comes their way.

fear of missing out marketing examples cases

What does this mean? In marketing, all you have to do when using the FOMO strategy is to ensure that your audience realizes they would be missing out if they do not purchase your item. People do not like to miss opportunities.

Your aim is to ensure that your audience buys on impulse rather than having to regret why they didn’t buy later.

By using catchphrases like “Buy now or regret later”, you create a sense of urgency which often leads to impulse buying.

Imagine if you wanted to purchase an expensive car which would be almost impossible for your budget. Just while having these thoughts, you open your Instagram or Facebook and behold! Here’s your dream car staring at you, you stare at the picture for a while, scroll down to read the caption to find out that this car is being sold at a discount rate!! Almost half the real price… And only one left!

Unbelievable! What would you do? You would be so happy and would most definitely want to make the payment before anyone else. This is exactly what FOMO does, it creates a sense of urgency and helps to ensure that you feel the need to purchase before anyone else. This is how to leverage on the Fear of missing out.

How to use FOMO in Marketing?

1. Make Use of Deadlines

When there is a time limit, people are forced to move out of their comfort zone in order to beat the deadline.

Creating deadlines puts pressure on people and it makes marketing easier. When setting deadlines, it means you could put up some of your items at a discounted rate for a limited time. When your consumers get to know that you are selling at a discounted price for a limited time, they would buy because they see it as an opportunity they do not want to miss.

use deadline to create urgency

However, you have to be ensure there is no extension because your audience may not take you seriously when they realize there will always be an extension.

2. Use Social Proof

One other great FOMO strategy that works every time is the act of using social proof. This could be in the form of a product reviews or testimonials from your previous consumers.

Most people want to confirm you aren’t out to swindle them. If they get to know what others were saying about your brand, it’ll increase your changes of turning leads into customers. In other words, to make more sales.

UCG as social proof fear of missing out marketing

What matters here is that people want to know what other people say about your brand. This is why so many people would never purchase a product until they have read what others have to say about such a product. This is the same reason some people have to read reviews before downloading certain apps from Play store and Apple store.

A bad review can tarnish your brand just as a good one can also bring more leads to your brand. “If this person has bought and another person has also purchased this product, I must be missing out if I’m not also doing the same thing”. This is exactly what your reviews tell your audience, it helps your credibility as a brand and makes it easier for your audience to trust you.

Need a tool for collecting reviews and testimonials?

3. Quote Celebrities and Influencers

Recently, the idea of using influencers to market your brand has been a great one. It works a lot because these influencers are people who have built a strong follower base and they have also earned the trust of their audience. The advantage of this for your brand is that you get more sales when these people help promote your brand.

How does FOMO come in here? You can quote any of these celebrities or influencers when marketing your brand, FOMO works here because people would think they are missing out when their favorite celebrities and influencers endorse your brand.

use celebrity endorsement fear of missing out marketing

In order to step forward as a brand today, you should definitely partner with an influencer because they literally influence people to buy from you and help you make more sales. The idea is to create a sense of urgency in the minds of your audience.

4. Make Use of Discounts

One great FOMO strategy which everyone knows is the use of discounts. Although the idea of using a discount is a well-known one, not everyone knows how to put it to good use.

How can you use discounts to your advantage? There are several ways to use discounts in FOMO marketing. All you have to do is to make your audience feel special.

101 on Making Your Customers Feel Special

One of the few methods to make your audience feel special is by telling them that only the people who follow you on a particular platform would get a juicy deal. You could say “These bags are usually sold at $150 each but I would be selling to only my Instagram followers at the rate of $100 each” Or you could say that only the people on your email list would be allowed to purchase at half of the real price. When you make offers like this, your audience would feel really special and would buy on impulse because it is an unusual offer.

However, you have to know the rules when using this method. There are rules for every method, when you break these rules, you do not get your desired results. The rule here is to be completely honest, do not make your audience an offer, only to back out, and not fulfill your promise.

When you tell your audience that only your email subscribers would be opportune to get a particular offer, never make this offer available to other people. Building trust as a brand is really important, if your audience thinks you are a dishonest person, it would destroy your credibility as a brand and also reduce your sales. Although the point is to create a sense of urgency, you should never come off as a dishonest person.

5. Advance Your Messaging

As a brand, the way you reach out to your audience is very important. The choices your audience make about your brand all depend on you and the way you reach out to them.

The idea of FOMO marketing is to aid impulse buying; the message you are putting out there is “Buy now or regret later”. In order to do this, you have to ensure that you pass the right message across to your audience. The only way to do this is to ensure that you communicate with your audience in such a way that conveys your exact message to them.

First, you must work on constructing the right sentences, don’t say one thing and mean the other. When making content for your brand, you have to make your content eye-catching, in your first sentence, you want to capture the attention of your audience.

There is no magic about this FOMO strategy, it all depends on the kind of message you put out there. You need to tell your audience why they need to purchase your product and why they would regret not making the decision. You can use this FOMO strategy to your advantage when you are good with words and your words can always pull the right strings. “You do not want to miss this offer, Grab your copy now, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

Ensure that your words create a sense of urgency, you may need the help of a good content creator or writer if you do not know how to make these contents for your brand.

how to encourage impulse buying

6. Be Deliberate about Using Competitive Spirit

Human beings are naturally competitive; it is a fact that our interest is heightened when we get to know that other people want the same thing we want. FOMO works here because people feel scared about missing out on an opportunity when they feel like they would lose something worthwhile to other people.

You can use this to your advantage as a brand, all you have to do is make your audience realize that other people are also interested in what they are interested in. When people realize this, they want to be the first to purchase that product because they do not lose it to other people.

numbers that matter in social proof marketing

Some hotels and other brands understand how this works, they create awareness about a product and ensure that they let you know that other people are currently checking the same thing you are interested in. This helps you make your purchase on time.

When you make people feel like they are competing over a product, they become more serious about making their purchase. You could also tell your audience that you only have a set number of a particular product; telling people you only have two products or three would definitely create a sense of urgency.

7. Highlight Missed Opportunity

Another strategy of FOMO that always works is this particular one. It is a great idea to remind people of the opportunities they had missed in the past. The advantage of this is that it reminds them of the fact that they do not want to make the same mistake again.

fomo popups that convert like crazy

How do you do this? This can be done when a consumer shows interest in a particular item but they end up losing this product to another person due to slow action. When this same consumer shows interest in another product, it would be nice to remind them that they lost the previous one to another person. “You lost this, do not make the same mistake twice”. Fear of missing out works here a lot, you should take advantage of it.

With Trustmary, you can create a sense of urgency to your website with popups. They can also be supercharged with social proof (=testimonials from your customers).

FOMO Marketing Examples

Highlight Your Bestsellers

fomo marketing strategy example

Kaiko shows their bestsellers in each category very prominently. This is a great FOMO marketing strategy to get website visitors buy now, because it shows that these products are liked by others. This is also called FOMO social proof.

It works thanks to two things:

  1. Existing customers have validated that these are the best products
  2. Potential customers might get a fear of missing out – what if these sold out completely?

We human beings often want to buy high demand products!

Show Stock Levels

Create a sense of urgency to encourage website visitors to take action immediately. Fanatics doesn’t show the exact stock levels, but they state that a product is “almost gone!”.

Sometimes, your customers’ view on what a good deal is might be that they get the shirt they specifically wanted instead of the cheapest one.

If you’re selling a service instead of a product, you can consider to set up a countdown timer to get more conversions.

Show Customer Reviews and Testimonials

If your products or services are loved by your users: Show that!

You’d be surprised to learn how many people turn into missed opportunities, because they just can’t simply trust your business.

Fomo marketing reviews and testimonials

Risk avoidance is a trait we all have and you can eliminate that sense of risk by adding more reviews and testimonials to your website with widgets.

Don’t forget to personalize the shown review content for different users! A/B test what works for which target audience.

Need more examples? Get inspired by these 7 real-life examples of how to use FOMO marketing and by these 4 other social proof examples.


FOMO is simply the fear of missing out. It explains the theory behind the reason why so many people are scared of missing out on certain opportunities. People would rather take risks than living with the guilt of “what could have been”.

Using FOMO in marketing has to do with leveraging your consumer interest to not miss any opportunity that comes their way.

This marketing strategy can be put to good use when you set a time limit, which is the act of making certain offers available for only a short period of time. Setting a time limit helps people buy on impulse and also help you drive more sales as a business person.

Another method of FOMO marketing is the act of using social proof which helps people know what others think about your brand.

Quoting celebrities and influencers is also a method of FOMO marketing that helps drive more sales.

Giving discounts, improving your messaging, and being deliberate with using competitive spirit are all ways of using FOMO marketing to your advantage in marketing.

I hope you have been able to learn how to make use of Fear of missing out (FOMO) to your own advantage in marketing. If you are in a need of real life examples, I recommend to check out these 7 real examples of using FOMO in advertising.

Furthermore, signing up to Trustmary right now will help you with creating a fear of missing out marketing strategy for your website.

Trustmary team
Trustmary team


Trustmary is the most effective way to convert more sales by improving digital trust.