FOMO - Fear of Missing OutIn his first inaugural address in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Perhaps if that speech were given today, in the globally connected era of social media, the phrase could be accurately restated as, “The only thing we have to fear…is missing out.”

Like any powerful tool, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it provides us the ability to connect with countless people, in real-time, from all over the world. On the other hand, it’s developed its own built-in sense of urgency along with an insatiable appetite for content.

But don’t worry. You needn’t suffer any longer from the fear of missing out, or “FOMO.” Acknowledging the problem is half the battle. Once you’ve done that, use the following tools to keep your finger on the pulse of social media and the world of information in which it operates — all without the nagging fear of missing out!

Fear As a Primal Motivator

Fear As a Primal Motivator
The best way to begin alleviating your fear of missing out is to understand where this fear comes from in the first place. According to the psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias, “humans pay more attention to, and give more weight to negative rather than positive kinds of information.” One of its main tenets is that “when put in an environment with a variety of information to pay attention to, people will immediately notice the threats instead of the opportunities.”

Extensive research has also attempted to prove the hypothesis that “bad is stronger than good” when it comes to what truly motivates our actions. This theory asserts that things like “losing money and being abandoned by friends have a greater impact on an individual than more positive occurences like winning money, gaining friends, and receiving praise”.

In other words, it appears that we humans are hard-wired to pay more attention to primal motivations stemming from fear — including the fear of missing out. Not convinced? The next time you’re driving and you overtake a car, your instinctive reaction is to take your eyes of the road and glance at the driver of the car you’re overtaking (or that’s overtaking you). What could be more important than keeping your car on the road? Making sure you’re not missing out on something more interesting going on in the car beside you, apparently!

Now that we’ve identified the origins and the power of FOMO, we’re in a better position to implement the appropriate resources to help us overcome it in our daily lives.

Tools to Combat FOMO

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, says that every two days, the world generates as much information as it did from the dawn of man up to the year 2003. And Google is still one of the best ways to find and filter information from this vast pool of data. Don’t burden yourself with conducting searches for the information you’re looking for. Instead, let the information come to you by setting up Google Alerts, or consolidating the live feeds from your favorite websites and blogs into Google Reader.

There are hundreds of millions of people on Twitter. How do you filter out the wheat from the chaff? Create some Twitter lists to focus on the tweeters you most want to pay attention to. Clean up your Twitter account; unfollow people who no longer tweet or who are no longer relevant to the topics you’re interested in.

On Facebook, take another look at the newest improvements to Facebook Insights to make sure you’re not missing out on vital engagement data from your fans. Subscribe to blogs that focus on all of the new developments coming from Facebook so that you don’t have to keep up with all the announcements yourself.

Let’s not forget LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn Groups to focus on relevant subsets of the 100 million members that make up this business-centric social networking site. LinkedIn also provides a feature for your business account called “Follower Statistics,” which provides details about who is sharing and engaging with your content.

If it seems like we’ve just compounded your fear of missing out by introducing a number of different platforms that you have to keep track of — fear not! You can use a social media management tool like Sprout Social to implement all of the features and platforms mentioned above (and many more) to consolidate your social media activities into one central location.

Turn Fear On Its Ear

Turn Fear on Its Ear

When it comes to the task of keeping up with all the updates, platforms, and information that the social media world throws at us, it may be tempting to simply bury our heads in the proverbial sand.

Don’t wait until you burn out. Conquer your fear of missing out by making sure that you’re using the best strategies and tools to help you manage it all.

[Image credits: Son of Groucho, Gia Ciccone, Carla MacNeil]