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Transcreation, copywriting, advertising, social networks, marketing... FOMO will (not) do you a(ny) favor(s) (?)

Transcreation, copywriting, advertising, social networks, marketing... FOMO will (not) do you a(ny) favor(s) (?)


Take it or curse it, new technologies can be worrisome at times.
Take it or curse it, new technologies can be worrisome at times.

You are afraid of missing out on something, a lots of things, of being excluded from an intimate circle, of being left behind, dumped, of not getting the latest news on the stars you follow, of missing out on a unique and (very) limited time offer, of not being active enough on Instagram, on X, Y or Z, of not sharing a meme on your favourite social network way before the others, or of having passed up the latest episode of the series that everyone is talking about and in which the superhero is losing his grip?!

You may be suffering from the FOMO syndrome or, for the uninitiated, the fear of missing out (on something), of being excluded from a group, a circle or a social network.

FOMO is an acronym that stands for "Fear Of Missing Out". In other words, it describes a widespread social phenomenon linked to the (over)digitalisation of everyday life. More specifically, FOMO refers to the almost frenetic rush and obsession that drives us to send messages, to like and to comment relentlessly on any post, in an attempt to make ourselves visible and alive (?), to gain recognition and influence, by all available and possible means.

More than a fear, it's like a real phobia.

Are our lives (sometimes) so devoid of any substance that we have to endlessly force ourselves to communicate, to mimic others, to try to resemble them and live the same experiences, to enjoy the same illusions of fulfilment and success? Of an ideal life…

What is FOMO and how can it be understood or even used to your advantage?
What is FOMO and how can it be understood or even used to your advantage?

Living vicariously. On a drip.

This could make us pale, shudder, moan; and so forth ☹

If your nights are disturbed by images, by lightning flashes that follow each other at high speed, by frightening visions of miserably missed messages, by superbly brilliant, original and obsessive ideas that need to be spread quickly, very quickly, before anyone else. Feelings, emotions, videos that go round in circles or musical discoveries that you failed to share: don't look any further, it could well correspond to that visceral fear of missing out: FOMO. 


Also, don't forget to sign up for the latest life coaching subscription offer, first thing in the morning. Because tomorrow is the last day to seize this must-attend opportunity! It would be a real shame to miss out on this unique, time-limited offer - specially concocted for you. Here YOU ARE 😊

The truth is… we all suffer from this syndrome to some extent - but we don't always manage to put a name on this permanent tension; or to get rid of it.

Tablets, smartphones, computers, notifications, alerts, posts, private or public instant messages, all of them prompting us to follow this microcosm in which we are immersed, as closely and uninterruptedly as possible, and to react immediately, urgently, almost in a fire-fighting mode. Otherwise, "the worst could happen to us", and the fire could ravage the self-image you've spent years building. For you - and for others.


Exclusion, deletion, oblivion, the Wrath of Zeus?
Exclusion, deletion, oblivion, the Wrath of Zeus?

After all, we are all some extremely social animals, and that is precisely what has made it possible for us to become what we are today: hyper-evolved and hyper-connected creatures. And it seems to be this which urges us to remain hypervigilant, hyperactive and proactive, up-to-date and informed on the go, every second of the day, with our smartphone, religiously kept at the bottom of our pockets, as our weapon of war – or a sacred object (?)

But we are also deeply anxious beings. Fear of abandonment, fear of the eyes of others, of being noticed - in a bad way.

Against all odds, this doesn't just affect the under-thirty generation in the throes of searching for identity and individual and collective recognition. This social anxiety affects (almost) all of us, from pre-adolescence to the third age. And the causes or signs of FOMO are not just limited to social networks. FOMO can lead to compulsive buying and hasty, irrational decisions in both the personal and professional spheres (!)

In the workplace, it can take the form of a fear of missing an email, an informal meeting, a message on Slack, Teams, Wimi, Google Chat, Typetalk and so many others.

This irrepressible need to run, to (re)act faster than the others, to avoid overthinking, to be overly spontaneous, bold, remarkable... to the point of exhaustion at times.

Oh la la, this sounds like an echo of the English buzzword that has sadly become so common around us lately: “burnout”.

Because, like it or not, the train is moving at high speed. And it's not about standing still on the platform.


When emotions overtake reason...
When emotions overtake reason...

Marketers, publicists, specialists in hard-hitting, impactful messages and unforgettable slogans, have well grasped the point, sometimes using them beyond the bounds of reason, or even ethics, to sell us dreams, illusions of happiness and a mirage of self-fulfilment galore.

Indeed, how else do you sell, convince, engage, reassure and entice if not by tapping into strong psychological drivers?

FOMO can be used as a (tried and tested) leverage in marketing, copywriting (don't let the latest technologies and trends slip away, otherwise you may find yourself left out in the cold, turning into a has-been), and transcreation (create a sense of urgency or absolute necessity to sign up, subscribe, etc., in order to possess scarcity by taking immediate action & resulting in a high conversion rate).

Besides the traditional communication media such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and large-format billboards, social networks provide a pool of audiences that must be seized before the competitors. Rather malleable but also highly changing, if not versatile.

What school of marketing, communication, copywriting, transcreation, advertising or management fails to cover Maslow's hierarchy of needs, for example? Maslow's hierarchy is a highly synthetic and effective way of presenting a hierarchical vision of the 5 main categories of human motivations and needs - in order of priority. The bottom level should always be satisfied before moving on to another higher-level need. It is thus considered as a simplistic representation for some, but one that provides nonetheless a clear picture of the consumer's needs. To better address them.

  1. Physiological Needs: These are linked to the survival of the species, to its essential, primary needs, such as drinking, eating, dressing, sleeping, etc.

  2. Safety Needs: Having a roof over one's head, a home to live in, a reasonably stable job and financial situation plus a trusted circle of friends and family, for example.

  3. Love & Belonging Needs: To love and to be loved in return, to have loyal friends, to have a family, to be listened to and recognised by colleagues and friends, by social networks, etc.

  4. Esteem Needs: This refers to the motivations that drive us to do things that enhance our self-esteem, to feel that we can count on the loyalty of our friends and on the respect of our colleagues for what we do and undertake; and the need for recognition in the broadest sense.

  5. Self-Actualisation Needs: To reach this higher level and satisfy this quest for the absolute, you need to be able to listen to your own desires and dreams. By accepting to learn new things, by creating and innovating in both the personal and professional spheres. And at that point, to come out grown-up, so proud of what you have achieved. You'll have to get out of your “comfort zone”, but it’s worth the risk. However, this is only achievable as long as the first four needs are met, and it can involve acquiring new skills, renewing your personal goals, or developing a secret passion that you no longer hide. The most important of all, is to have fun!

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

In marketing, Maslow's hierarchy is a powerful tool for accurately identifying a customer's or prospect's expectations. By gaining a refined view of the consumer's desires through the hierarchy of needs, we can tailor the product or service to meet their immediate needs, as closely as possible. Marketing campaigns are optimised in terms of both impact and cost, thereby eliminating poorly designed advertising campaigns or rhetoric that simply don't resonate with the target audience or meet their real aspirations. With a perfectly aligned narrative and value proposition, ROI is maximised and conversions are significantly higher because we will have hit the nail on the head... by doing good - or right.

In the wider commercial arena, Maslow's approach can be used to craft a compelling and irresistible sales pitch; a message that stirs an unconscious emotion in prospective buyers based on their own story, experience, past and present suffering and fears. The aim is to trigger a purchase through needs that are revealed, suggested, induced and ultimately made indispensable or even overpowering.

By drafting sales copy around the hierarchy of needs, the prospect will be experiencing a need that he will try to satisfy with a new or improved product or service. The aim is to highlight a person's unsatisfied or insufficiently satisfied needs and persuade him to buy the suggested product or service that will meet his needs… and fill the gap - thereby improving the conversion rate.


And what about words?

When it comes to marketing communications, it's all about crafting a message. And this is where the copywriter's talent is put to the test against the relentless resistance of the target audience. Not only do you need to spark interest, but you also need to convince, reassure and encourage people to take action through a Call To Action (CTA), or equivalent.

But there's still a tricky part. A very serious one indeed if you want to capture a new market that will take your sales beyond your national boundaries, if you want to reach leads who do not speak the same language as the one in which your original message was written, if you want to make your message comprehensible and impactful in a different culture, in a singular collective unconscious with all its nuances, subtleties and even contradictions.

With this in mind, will a translation be effective enough to convey the message in full? The implicit and non-verbal part of the message, its cultural roots, its psychological intricacies?

Or would it be a better strategy to opt for a localised version of the original text, translated by a native speaker living in the target country, to elicit the desired response? Localisation as a translation that is more deeply rooted in the culture of the target country, through the choice of more relevant and meaningful words, expressions, values and symbols.

Or perhaps a transcreation (creative translation) by an expert living in the target market, could well be the solution if the message is meant to be as relevant & efficient as possible to the target audience, with a short- to medium-term objective (?).

Using a meaningful storytelling...(!)
Using a meaningful storytelling...(!)


Or even, a new iteration of the original copy (see: copywriting), based on a detailed brief and exhaustive guidelines in terms of lexical field and communication style - the English equivalent of TOV for Tone Of Voice.

Tone of voice is the way a brand communicates with its customers, in a consistent way across all of its communication media. From advertising to website(s) and email campaigns, the messages need to be homogeneous, reinforce the brand's identity and create a strong emotional connection with consumers. They can be inspirational and enthusiastic, humorous or even cheeky, factual with a technical twist, empathetic and respectful, serious and formal, or authentic and relaxed.

The choice will depend on the brand's positioning vis-à-vis its target audience and its business development and lead acquisition strategy. Above all, it will help the brand to stand out from the crowd and be clearly identifiable.

Content writing, in the language of Molière (or Creative writing), to ensure that it hits the mark from the outset? Along with a necessary SEO phase beforehand?

Probably, but transcreation, if the original source copy allows it, can be more than enough, provided that the transcreator has a good deal of information about the client, its marketing strategy and positioning, which will ultimately enable the transcreator to immerse himself in the client's TOV (Tone Of Voice), its expectations, its history, its perspectives and above all, its goals. Here, a clear and detailed creative brief is key.

Working from a source text, the transcreation expert, or transcreator, will then give free rein to his or her imagination and come up with a message that speaks directly to the target audience, the prospective customers: a tailor-made message. This message will speak to them, soothe them, support them, and lead them to the action the client wants them to take.

The proposed follow-up relationship can then take different forms of call to action (CTA), such as:

🔆 A limited-time offer

🎉 A real-time campaign or sales event

💡 A clickable link to customer testimonials (see: social proof) or to a sales page

🍀 A CTA to browse through the “missed” opportunities

💥 A low stock alert

🎵 Exclusive products or services

💖 An unmissable offer for a VIP “partnership” or “privileged relationship” with a celebrity or influencer lever

Always, with a light and delicate pressure, but still there, on feelings and emotions that are particularly prevalent in human beings:

  • Envy

  • Jealousy

  • Sadness

  • Disappointment & regret

  • Guilt and empathy

  • The need for love and recognition

  • The need for reassurance

  • et cetera


These familiar “pain points”, which remind consumers of all those unmet needs, encourage and influence them to find a solution to overcome that “problem”. It is therefore much easier to sell a product or service that is supposed to mitigate or eliminate a problem, a suffering, a frustration, a malaise, than to sell something that has no “immediate benefit”.

Because what people are looking for above all are emotions, stimuli, experiences, not just products! A 2019 TrustPulse study found that nearly 8 out of 10 millennials  (corresponding to the Y generation born between 1980 and the mid-1990s) prefer to spend their money on “experiences” rather than on material goods. In other words, it's not about selling a product, it’s about selling the benefits, the unique experience it will provide.

The FOMO, used for marketing purposes, will then capitalise on our cognitive biases -  i.e. dysfunctions of our logical reasoning - the very ones linked to our survival instinct and, more generally, to our emotions and emotional states.

Nothing new down here!

These cognitive biases have been used for decades, and our grandparents and great-grandparents experienced them too. And it's not going to stop: as long as we are anxious creatures, it’s going to work, one way or another.

As a matter of fact, FOMO involves a never-ending search for stimuli and an incapacity to enjoy the present moment. These stimuli typically correspond to positive feelings such as contentment, well-being, comfort, relief, recognition and consideration.

There's still a long way ahead before we become masters of our antediluvian neuroses... ☹ Carpe diem (?)

From there, what can we really do to remain in control of ourselves in the midst of the digital hubbub - not to say “internet noise” - that surrounds us, in the jungle of messages that creep into our cult films, our idolised stars, our coffee breaks and even into our awakening breakfasts?

It might just be as simple as:

🌈 Learning how to take digital breaks and looking for ways to disconnect. Or, for the more daring, experiencing airplane mode (?)

Editor's note: for my part, it's still rather complicated to fully disconnect in the evening; even when in a horizontal position ☹

🌟 Going green more often

💪 Finding the strength to let all those irresistible offers fade away: there will always be new ones, even more amazing

🌻 Turning off unwanted notifications

💫 Joining a craft group

📚 Rediscovering the art of reading, playing board games... Offline (!)

🚀 Taking a little more time for yourself, and embracing boredom as a supportive friend


Alternatively, why not try a regular practice of JOMO?

JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out) as an antidote to FOMO?

By refocusing on yourself and defining your priorities more clearly, especially your personal, individual, almost selfish priorities. And by also learning how to say “No!” – or “Stop!”.

These are the key principles behind this... disruptive (?) - subversive (?) - approach that will do you good. 😊

Still, the world must continue to spin - but perhaps in a more balanced way - and communication is at the heart of our existence, of each of our actions and interactions.

We therefore need to cope with the current environment, but also need to understand the importance of taking a step back - every now and then.

For the copywriter, the transcreator, the translator, the SEO expert, the marketer, the influencer, the strategist, it will be necessary to recognise the limits of unbridled, all-out communication, of a sometimes harmful and inefficient use of psychological levers, and instead to make a genuine value proposition by “speaking the truth”, without gimmicks, but through innovation and renewal, reinventing ourselves “for real”, adopting an ethical and “green” approach. Seeking to sell – it goes without saying - but also and above all, to foster customer loyalty through an approach, a narrative and concrete actions that reflect our commitment, and even our fight, on behalf of our customers and potential customers.

Without any pretence, because despite the fact that our subconscious is always on the lookout for nasty tricks to make us vulnerable and suggestible, people are getting wiser, better trained, more seasoned and more clear-headed, and it's no longer a question of using some of the old devious recipes that used to work, but of building a trustworthy, authentic, fair and sincere relationship with our audience. Failure to do so can lead to a dead end, anonymity among a plethora of poorly polished offerings, or to experiencing a boomerang effect that may leave scars on a brand image for many years, if its reputation is tarnished.

This is perhaps one of the keys to avoiding the repetition of millions of messages that all sound too much alike, that fail to reach their target audience, to convince, to engage, to instill the desire to dream – as a community.


Don't fail to contact me if this article has sparked your interest and if you would like to find out more about my vision and approach as a freelancer, about my translation, localisation and transcreation skills & projects - from English to French (from France) – or about my copywriting activities in French (from France) as a freelancer, as well as about the SEO projects I carry out and the cultural consultancy services I offer to communication & translation agencies and to my dear direct clients. 💖🌟💫

Stay tuned for more exciting and wilder adventures!


Stay tuned for more exciting and wild adventures!
Stay tuned for more exciting and wild adventures!



FOMO or JOMO, That is the question
FOMO or JOMO, That is the question

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