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5 Ways to Give Your Guests FOMO

By Jenny Stanfield
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FOMO or Fear of Missing Out is the anxiety we get when we think we are being left out of an amazing experience. FOMO is a major drive for your prospective attendees, and one that you can easily capitalize on in our social media-driven, shareable world.

Face-to-face meetings continue to trump hybrid, remote, and virtual ones in demand and popularity despite the immense rise of accessible tools and applications that make virtual a cheaper and easier alternative. The reason? FOMO! With the ability to share our lives and experiences online comes an anxiety and frustration when left out of the real-life equation. Everyone wants to do or see something cool so that they have something to share online and make their followers inspired, shocked, and maybe a little jealous. Here are 5 ways to give your guests FOMO.

5 Ways to Give Your Guests FOMO

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1. Curate the Story

The best way to give your guests, prospective attendees, and the general public FOMO is to curate the event experience so that everyone shares what you want them to. This should begin in the design phase of your event so that you ensure you’ve structured it right into the program. Make sure that you remind participants of the event’s hashtag, big take-aways, and most important wow-factor moments by building touch points designed to reiterate these points. You can use your MC to help identify these moments throughout your program and keep everyone on the same page. You can also use your community manager/social media guru to track the conversation online pre, during, and post event to address concerns, elevate positive experiences and tell the right story for your event.

2. Integrate Social from the Beginning

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Make sure that you have a social share component integrated right into your event marketing: your website, any emails that get sent to your lists, and (if you have one) your event app. Wherever possible, let your prospective attendees know who else is already signed up, so that they won’t miss out on seeing friends and/or prospective clients.

Your speakers should also get in on the conversation - be they celebrity, content expert, motivational, or a combination of the three. Every one of your speakers has a tribe of prospective attendees and a network that you can bank off by involving them in the story of your event. Make sure that they know the hashtag and all the ways they can promote the event ahead of time to help begin the story.

3. Make it Exclusive

The most popular public events are ones that feel exclusive due to high demand, high ticket prices, and/or a rare once in a lifetime experience. Think about the TED Conference, Comic-Con, Burning Man or any venue with a secret entry (e.g. red lights outside a speakeasy bar). They all bank on exclusivity - be it of price (TED), insider information and celebrities (Comic-Con), surprise guests and a far-out venue (Burning Man) or an element of pure mystery (Secret Venues). Your guests will feel FOMO if they think there’s even a CHANCE they might be missing out on something exclusive that speaks to their interests.

Lots of smaller events have figured out unique ways of creating FOMO around exclusivity, too. TED x (independently organized TED events) tend to release tickets initially only to those who have attended the year before and those referred by past guests. They call all 1,500+ guests into the venue at one time, meaning long lines winding through the block on crowded city streets turn a lot of heads and feed into the allure of the event to those who might not know about it. They also release selected videos of the best TED talks right after the event, feeding into the FOMO feeling and showing everyone exactly what they missed out on.

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4. Tease it Out

Keep a steady stream of registrations flowing by creating a marketing strategy that teases out exciting pieces of your event from the start. You can do this by slowly revealing exciting guests week after week, announcing exclusive items available for purchase at your event, or sharing images of how your awesome design builds are shaping up. You can also go with the tried and true early bird, flash, or last minute sale on tickets to encourage initial and last-minute signups.

Apple has consistently been the ultimate tease when it comes to keynotes, product launches, and other events. They are known for releasing invitations with only simple imagery or mysteriously worded announcements that keep their audiences wanting more. Their guarded secrets are a huge part of the appeal, and the reason that so many media outlets pick up on their announcements - attempting to predict what they will do next and when. The tease can be risky when it comes to lesser known events, but if you have amazing stuff planned then the payoff should be worth it.

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Image: Teaser from first iPhone event.

5. Deliver on Wow-Factor

None of the other tips mentioned above really matter unless you’ve got the wow-factor in place for your event; authentic moments that surprise and delight your guests in a totally unique way. This is where we as event professionals get to really be creative and artistic in our program design.

Your wow-factor is totally dependant on your audience and the context of your event. It can range from an exclusive opportunity (attempt a world record, reveal a new invention, see the latest collection from a fashion designer), to an out of this world venue (a remote island, an old castle, on top of a ski mountain), to a crazy, niched-out theme (steampunk, all white, night circus). Knowing the needs and wants of your guests will help you determine how best to impress them, just make sure you do enough research to make sure you aren’t repeating something your group might have already done.

In Conclusion

Fear of Missing Out is a major component in your prospective guests decision to attend, and should be considered from the beginning of your planning efforts. If you make sure to understand your audience enough to deliver on their needs and wants and back up your marketing efforts with unique experiences that tell a memorable story, FOMO will be a guaranteed result.

about the author

Jenny Stanfield
Jenny Stanfield is the Lead Event Producer at Engagement Unlimited. She is a passionate, creative event professional who was recently awarded PCMA’s 20 in their Twenties distinction. Her focus is pushing the boundaries of group engagement and maximizing learning and networking at events. Follow her @thejenstanfield.
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