Initial Reflections on Social Media

The invention of social media slowly but surely led to the expansion of a new corporate sphere: digital business. Nowadays, if a company doesn’t have a website, let alone social media channels, consumers view it as sketchy and untrustworthy. But more and more, both content creators and consumers have grown, redefining supply and demand and rewriting the rules of customer service. In order for this new system to work, both the businesses and the customers have to familiarize themselves with these ever-changing rules. You have to educate yourself with these expectations and lingo, or you’ll be left behind.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of social media influencing digital business is the explosion of FOMO: fear of missing out. Since businesses can use social media to immediately notify their customers about flash sales, exclusive offerings, and limited-time deals, the customers become accustomed to frequently checking the social media feeds of their favorite brand. For example, Lilly Pulitzer, a colorful women’s clothing brand, announced on their social media channels in July that they would be releasing a capsule collection of one of their most popular prints from a previous year, You Gotta Regatta.


(Note: their prints are only available for a single season, which further capitalizes on consumers’ FOMO; if you don’t buy that pink seashell dress right now, you will never be able buy it again, because every single item is limited-edition.) Immediately, shoppers went nuts, starting conversations with fellow Lilly lovers (as seen by the 657 comments on the initial Instagram post) and flocking to the website for more information, which prompted the user to share their email address to receive the unique web shopping link.

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(In case you were wondering, the online collection sold out in hours.)

This was just one example of how a brand leveraged their social media accounts and devoted followers to increase their sales and strengthen an already strong customer base. I feel that I have a fairly strong understanding about how fashion brands are utilizing these methods for their benefit, but I’m looking forward to learning more about how companies in other industries are reimagining their digital strategies and how they are being received by various target audiences—especially in markets where the average customer is over the age of 50, and is statistically far less likely to have much social media knowledge. (Yes, Mom, I’m talking about you. And no, I’m not “Snapfacing” this right now.)

While FOMO can be great for digital businesses, it can also have negative consequences on a person’s social activities and self-image. I know people who are so intent on taking a great photo of an event, such as a football game, that they spend a good portion of time focusing on the photo rather than embracing the experience. In this way, social media, which was intended to bring people together and foster digital communities, can become disorienting and alienating. Young adults are particularly impressionable and guilty in this endeavor. While it’s great to be able establish social connections, promote brand awareness, and share news items, I propose that spending too much time staring at our screens is redefining concepts like “reality,” “friendship,” and “success.”



  1. I think this is great, the Fear of Missing out is real. That is why I believe that so many of us are addicted to our phones. We need to see that new snap story or Instagram post. Also from personal experience, companies need to have a strong social network presence to gain my trust.

  2. cattybradley · ·

    Great post – I never thought about FOMO outside of seeing what friends post on social media. I think you have a great point of how companies leverage this to get people to act. It does seem like brands try to promote more exclusive events such as flash sales or pop-up events to keep their followers attention.

  3. Hi Katie,

    Great post! FOMO is so real and I often find myself in this state of mind. I follow lots of brands on Instagram from clothing, to furniture, and other retailers and I find myself so tempted to fork over my money for these limited-time sales. I also agree, perhaps a great concept for digital business, but can be harmful if replacing meaningful friendship and conversation!

  4. I couldn’t agree more. With internet shopping at an all time high, clothing companies especially are using social media to draw in buyers and it’s working.

    I liked Vineyard Vines on Facebook some time ago and they invited me to a “Whalehouse Sale” over the summer. They rented out a warehouse and put all of the clothing items they hadn’t sold in the past year in the warehouse for sale at heavily discounted prices (I did the math out, I got a little over $1,100 worth of clothing for about $230. I highly recommend going to one of these if anyone reading this likes the brand). When I went, it was absolutely packed and this was the 6th day of the sale, they had reached out to all of their “Likers” in the general area of the location and a lot of them responded. They were now able to cut out the middle-man companies like Marshalls and TJ Maxx for getting rid of their clothing that they didn’t sell by using social media effectively as a tool.

    Another example is that I looked at a pair of shoes online one time earlier this year. I didn’t buy them but the image with a link to those same exact shoes were on the advertisements section to the right side of my News Feed on Facebook from then on and stayed there for about a month and a half. I ended up buying the shoes and even after I did, the link with a picture of the shoes was still there for about another month.
    Great post overall.

  5. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Hi Katie,

    I think you hit on a great point about focusing on social media and missing out on the world around you. I’ve been at concerts and other live event where people were recording the event on their phone. As a result, they were watching the live event on their phone screen instead of looking up and seeing it in person!

    It’s so easy to compare your “success” to the success of others when people are only posting about their best moments: new jobs, new houses, weddings, and babies. This zoomed in focus on “reality” is only a sliver of people lives. Social media should definitely be taken with a grain of salt before it defines who we are!

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