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.
(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.”