FOBO (Fear of Being Offline), and How Marketers on Facebook Can Exploit It

Move over, FOMO, and make room for FOBO: A study by culture experts Crowd DNA for Facebook found that fear of being offline is the new fear of missing out, as 70 percent of respondents aged 13 through 24 from 13 countries said they have to be connected, no matter where they are.

FOBOStudy650Move over, FOMO, and make room for FOBO: A study by culture experts Crowd DNA for Facebook found that fear of being offline is the new fear of missing out, as 70 percent of respondents aged 13 through 24 from 13 countries said they have to be connected, no matter where they are.

Crowd DNA managing director Andy Crysell and Facebook marketing science lead Jo Tenzer discussed the study in a Facebook IQ post, and highlights follow:

On what surprised them:

Crysell:

What surprised me is that we were really able to notice a change in how young people are using social media and digital devices so fluidly and fluently (see “Coming of Age on Screens”). The fact that people coming of age today are truly digital natives really came through. Of the teens and young adults we studied, 79 percent, for example, said they always or mostly use a mobile device while watching TV.

Tenzer:

For me, it was the realization that there is a fear of being offline among this generation. When you’re offline, it’s harder to discover the things that interest you and more difficult to share what you’re doing with the people who matter to you. People growing up today feel the need to be online — and being online is really being on mobile.

On why 46 percent of respondents said they would feel lost without social media:

Tenzer:

Social media allows people to express how they feel without the awkwardness that teenagers can sometimes experience face-to-face. We found that the first place people coming of age today said they’d share the fact that they had a really good day is on social media (30 percent). Face-to-face was second at 22 percent. Millennials use social media to share the true versions of themselves. It’s important for people in this group to share what’s important to them and let people know who they are by using social media.

Crysell:

The other thing, of course, is that social media is essentially their lifeline to the world. Some 74 percent of respondents globally said that social media helps them stay up-to-date with their friends and family. Another 65 percent said they use it to get in touch with people they already see every day. It’s how they communicate.

On mobile being the first screen for the age group in the study:

Tenzer:

Mobile is so essential for people growing up today that a majority (60 percent) of young people we studied said they would rather give up TV than their cell phones (see “A World in Their Hands“). Marketers have a unique opportunity to be with consumers in their pockets. Because they’re reaching people on such a personal device, brands, however, want to be mindful about creating relevant content that’s designed for people on the move.

Crysell:

Mobile is the main way this generation connects. As a result, brands really need to have a mobile-first strategy. That means understanding how their message works on mobile and how it intersects with messaging designed for other devices. The big challenge for brands is to figure out how to tell their stories effectively on mobile. Often that will mean images and video — the visual languages that especially appeal to millennials — that can often do a lot more work in small real estate than words can.

Finally, on how to reach users with multiple screens:

Crysell:

This actually makes it an exciting time to be a marketer. There’s a fun challenge in figuring out how a brand tells a story in such a way that it works across different devices. The story has to be told in a way that is not confusing so that it doesn’t feel like you’re getting the same story over and over again.

Tenzer:

The creative is really important for people who are moving from one device to another. The fact that people growing up today are constantly switching among devices means that the message has to be clear and relevant to them, regardless of what device they’re on. Brands need to know what matters to people coming of age today to resonate with this age group.

Readers: Do you suffer from FOBO?