FONK is the new FOMO

Monday, 19 November 2018

Life moves fast.

We live in a world awash with content and information, whether it’s the latest cultural event, natural disaster, product launch, or hilarious meme. It can be hard to keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians) and the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips.

In recent years, the term FOMO (fear of missing out) was coined within mainstream culture. Before long, the term became a mainstay on social media as users sought to express angst around missing the latest trend, event, or commentary.

However, new research from Twitter Canada shows that FOMO is quickly becoming a thing of the past. In its place, FONK (fear of not knowing) is on the rise.

Is FONK the new FOMO?

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We recently spoke to Canadians as part of a research study conducted with Fuse Insights and learned that only a third of Canadians say they have at least some FOMO.

We also learned that in the past year (2018 vs. 2017), there has been a significant decline in Canadians saying they’re social and outgoing. This was especially true amongst young Canadians ages 25-34 where 65% less respondents said they were social and outgoing in 2018, when compared to respondents from 2017.

Over-scheduling our lives to avoid being left behind is no longer a priority. Half of all Canadians say they go out less than they used to, for a variety of reasons, including cost, time, and general lack of interest. Plus with the wealth of content available online, it makes them feel like they aren’t missing a beat, even if they’re not there IRL.


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Facebook and Instagram are, by far, the platforms most associated with FOMO. However, Canadians are starting to get the sense (and express) that what they’re seeing isn’t ‘real’.

In fact, 66% of Canadians say Facebook and Instagram posts aren’t an accurate representation of people’s lives. Furthermore, 50% of Canadians say they’re bored of seeing the same repetitive posts of content such as vacation and meals.

Who’s got the FONK?


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Canadians on Twitter have long been in the discovery mindset and the platform is being used to counter the feelings associated with FONK.

66% of Canadians have at least a bit of FONK, which is twice as many who say they have FOMO.

Being up to date and well rounded are particularly important for Canadians who are frequent Twitter users. Within this demographic:

  • 90% feel it’s important to have different perspectives on news and events
  • 75% say they always stay up to date with the latest headlines
  • 75% want to be seen by others as knowledgeable and informed
  • 70% hate feeling like they don’t have enough info on something

Twitter is where Canadians go for useful information

  • 77% of Twitter users say they learn something new and valuable on Twitter weekly
  • 61% say they often find info on Twitter they hadn’t seen before

Bringing knowledge through brands

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Brands can help feed Canadians’ need for information and combat those feelings of FONK.

Brands are the top type of account users follow on Twitter and younger Canadians, in particular, appreciate brands taking an active role in helping them discover something new.

Among 15-25 year olds…

  • 57% appreciate it when brands post helpful information on Twitter
  • 43% think it’s fun to see brand Tweets about an event
  • 65% like seeing brand accounts have two-way conversations

For brands, there are huge benefits to being a part of what’s happening and being associated with conversations that align with their values. Connecting with your audience during moments that matter helps forge strong, emotional bonds and build brand love.

In fact, research shows that a 10% lift in perceptions that a brand is associated with ‘what’s happening’ results in an 8% increase in positive brand perceptions overall.

Here are a few tips for activating around what’s happening and capitalizing on Canadians' need for knowledge on Twitter:

  1. Invite participation: create or foster a sense of community and encourage conversation and engagement
  2. Read the room: do your homework, gauge the mood, understand the conversation
  3. Create for Twitter: design for both speed AND depth
  4. Back it up: authenticity is paramount, so make sure you’re connecting to a passion, interest, event, or cause in a tangible way


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