The real-time web has created new forms of communication, not the least of which is the lightening fast cycling of news stories, trends and topics on Twitter. For us Twitter addicts, logging off at 11pm often means you’re reluctantly missing out on dozens of new trending topics and shared links. Matt LeMay of bit.ly thinks that it’s this fear of missing out (which he dubs FOMO) that drives us to share and engage with content.
FOMO results from the instantaneous nature of the real-time web. We all have this nervous fear of missing out on something really cool: a rockin’ concert, as LeMay suggests. If you read a series of excited tweets or status updates from a friend who is currently at a concert while you’re at home doing your laundry, you’ll likely feel left out. And because you can see pics and hear audio clips of this concert in real-time on the social web, you’re especially aware of what you’re missing out on.
LeMay was speaking today on a panel at Socialize, the Mediabistro social media monetization conference in New York. He was discussing, along with three other panelists, the return on investment that you can get from the intent of your audience.
Social media is a means to discuss things that interest us, as LeMay explains, and in the real-time universe it’s the fear of missing out that propels a lot of social media sharing. Everyone wants to participate in what’s happening right now. He goes on to say that it’s important for publishers to follow the conversation that’s happening on Twitter and elsewhere – the whole conversation, not just the conversation around your content or brand.
Bit.ly offers a variety of analytics attached to the links you share on Twitter, and Lemay notes that it’s not just big name publishers who are interested in seeing analytics – it’s the regular social media user who wants to see how influential they are, how far and fast the links they share spread. By using bit.ly to track shared links, you can see just how this FOMO affects the real-time spread of information.
Being outside of the loop isn’t fun, but being part of it is. Do you find yourself sharing content just because you’re afraid of being left out of the conversation?