During these uncertain times, we’ve all experienced a lot of marketing noise, especially on social media. Brands have either stayed on their path or made a pivot to get their messages in alignment with the current situation. We are seeing creative and relevant campaigns across different social media platforms. This post will provide noteworthy brand and influencer marketing ideas to implement now to help you and your brand build the perfect, award-winning virtual marketing campaign even during these difficult times.
We may be seeing a number of brands hitting pause in response to the current crisis. However, many brands are also getting it right by being present and delivering a positive, entertaining, and caring virtual marketing campaign and message. Here are seven virtual marketing campaign ideas to consider during these uncertain times.
1. Virtual House Parties, Classes, and Meetups
Businesses are quickly shifting their live influencer-hosted gatherings and classes to Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, or Instagram LIVE. Below are a few ways to shift physical events and activities to virtual marketing successes.
A. Virtual Brand-Sponsored Book Clubs
Pomp & Whimsy Liquor quickly created a virtual book club and cocktail series guest-hosted by top women influencers in business, fashion, the arts, and hospitality. In addition, the brand made use of the online event to acquire donations for the NYC food banks to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, Pomp & Whimsy Liquor effectively produced a virtual marketing campaign that not only supported connection and conversation but also positioned the brand as socially responsible.
B. Virtual Spa Night
Thanks to social distancing, live gatherings like influencer events and influencer-hosted events in partnership with brands have officially turned virtual. Forward Influence is working with a beauty brand to launch its new spa-style hair products. Since influencers can no longer host at-home spa nights throughout the country as originally planned, the brand quickly pivoted and now influencers and their friends will still enjoy an evening of pampering, products, and connection online.
To make the party happen, cute spa goodie bags and products will be delivered to all of the attendees’ doorsteps to be used during the online event. Additionally, influencers will promote and invite followers to join in as they discuss how they are taking care of themselves as busy moms during these uncertain times.
C. Virtual Brand-Sponsored Happy Hour
Since sponsoring in-person happy hours is not an option right now, online happy hour can help people stay connected with consumers while having fun. Additionally, brands can also use this marketing strategy to raise money for causes they support and reward loyal customers through giveaways.
Greenall’s Gin South Africa aimed to entertain and strengthen relationships with customers via regular virtual happy hours. The brand is also expanding its audience by incorporating other online activities such as Instagram takeovers, influencer partnerships, and a live DJ session.
D. Virtual Story Time
With schools being canceled, parents may find it challenging to keep their children entertained while at home. Marvel partnered with celebrities and influencers to host virtual storytime on their Instagram account which supportsthe immediate needs of new and existing customers.
E. Virtual Brand-Sponsored Game Nights
An online game night is another creative and fun virtual marketing campaign. Brands may choose to partner with influencers or invite followers to play games with each other virtually, creating engaging user-generated content and excellent PR. For example, Forward Influence is working with one brand to move its in-person family gaming retreat to a virtual game night. Two influencers and their families will compete against each other, live on Instagram, with their followers jumping in to help give them the right answers.
2. Experiential and Interactive Sponsorship
Since most people are confined in their homes, brands can put themselves on the top of consumers’ minds by continuing to offer services through online engagement and entertainment. Here are some ideas your brand can reference when coming up with an appealing and interactive virtual marketing campaign.
A. Virtual LIVE streaming
Because most audiences are tuning in online to be entertained, we can see an increasing demand and use of live streaming and videos. In fact, streaming usage and popularity increased by 37 percent in the US. In addition, the number of viewers in different countries streaming online videos also grew exponentially. Therefore, brands may optimize live streaming tools to connect with consumers and create engaging content.
Since families are not able to go on field trips, places like zoos and safari parks are opening their virtual doors via live streaming.. Because these businesses are temporarily closed, they are providing tools to make virtual zoo visits possible. For example, the Smithsonian National Zoo streamed the experience of a mother cheetah giving birth to her cubs online.
Alaska Airlines sponsors the live stream of San Diego Zoo’s penguin cam, equally benefiting both partners by connecting with the needs of their customers while staying brand relevant.
B. Virtual Amusement Park Experiences
Even amusement parks have jumped into virtual experiences. As an example, Legoland California Resort launched its “Building Challenge” website as part of the brand’s virtual marketing campaign.
Legoland aimed to promote learning and play through at-home activities and challenges for kids and families to do together. The brand also offers a virtual tour of Legoland on its website for consumers wanting to see the park and its amenities.
Disney continues to bring magic into consumers’ homes by producing the website, Disney Magic Moments, catering to Disney-themed activities for kids and adults. Activities include Disney’s new animated series, online storytime, a virtual tour of It’s a Small World, and #VoicesFromHome performances of Disney performers.
C. Virtual Movie Watch Parties
To create a memorable and buzzworthy virtual marketing campaign, brands may promote appealing products and services and partner with influencers to spread the word. Walmart, for example, produced a Trolls World Tour watch party on Twitter and collaborated with influencers to invite followers to join. The social media stars’ creative and colorful promotion content made the online event a success.
D. Virtual Vacations
Travels and vacations are among the most affected activities due to the current crisis. As a result, some brands started producing online trips and tours to attract and amuse customers while staying at home.
For instance, beauty brand Maskcara launched a 2-week Instagram virtual vacation filled with interesting challenges, live videos, and beauty tips. Moreover, the brand built engagement and encouraged audiences to join by giving giveaways to daily challenge winners.
E. Virtual Bake Sale
Even when stores have closed, sales can continue to rise. Almost every live event can be held virtually. You just have to think outside of the box.
For example, Forward Influence partnered with McCormick Spices to create a virtual bake sale and baking challenge on Pinterest. First, six teams of six influencers were formed and each team member baked a delicious treat using McCormick products. Second, each influencer shared the recipe and pinned an image of their teams’ baked goods. Lastly, followers were allowed to “purchase” a baked good by repinning the post and being entered in to win. The influencer team that had the most repins won the challenge. As a result, the brand received high engagement and gained over 200,000 followers on the McCormick bake sale Pinterest board. This is one delicious virtual marketing campaign idea, right?
F. Virtual Fashion Week
The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia was among the annual international events affected by the present pandemic. However, instead of canceling the gathering, the brand decided to utilize the growing popularity of TikTok and move the event virtually. The virtual marketing campaign featured fashion TikTok challenges, a LIVE streaming event, and special workshops hosted by designers and fashion experts.
3. Brand-Sponsored Virtual Acts of Service
During such an unprecedented time, it’s important to do your part as a brand to support your communities. Now more than ever, customers are looking at their favorite brands to see how they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. They need acts of kindness and an opportunity to join in on the relief efforts.
A. Virtual Fundraising Events
When taking events online, brands can do even more by partnering with a charity or raising money for a cause. Just Like My Child Foundation hosted an online fundraising dance party encouraging viewers to dress up and dance from home, raising awareness for their cause and money for those in need. Influencers joined in on the fun to spread the word and create hype.
B. Challenges for a Cause
Everyone loves a good challenge, especially one that creates good fun while at home.. This is a great time to challenge your consumers to do something fun at home while embracing your product and offering a for-a-cause incentive type of virtual marketing campaign. Not only do your consumers feel your support as you join them at home, but they feel that they can help make a difference in the world by joining your efforts.
Oreo encouraged TikTokers to stay home and stay playful by presenting a challenge using Oreo cookies. For everyone that participated and used the hashtag, #CookieWithaCause, Oreo donated to Save the Children foundation.
C. Challenges to Make a Difference
Sometimes an assurance that they are supported in their efforts to stay home and wash their hands is just what consumers need to hear from their favorite brands.
Dove teamed up with influencers to write who they are staying home for on their hands and then challenged their followers to do the same. It is a great way to show support, empathize with their community and encourage the use of their product.
D. Conversations for a Cause
Another way to show your support is by creating a conversation around what’s important (think: family, self-awareness, schooling). Forward Influence recently partnered with Mattress Firm to create brand awareness while supporting foster care. They had influencers share “little victory” moments with their kids and encouraged their followers to share theirs. For every shared moment, Mattress Firm donated to foster children.
E. Brand-Sponsored Encouragement
Sometimes what people need most at this time is a little encouragement and a sense of community. Brands have the great opportunity to create these opportunities to connect as a community. Lowes, for example, launched this virtual marketing campaign by sending supplies to influencers and asked them to create signs of encouragement for essential workers in their hometowns.
F. Give Back
Charitable acts don’t always have to be combined with a challenge or movement. Brands can donate to foundations helping those during this pandemic and use social media and influencers to spread awareness of their efforts to support the community during this time. And don’t worry if you can’t donate a billion dollars. Doing what you can for the community is all your consumers want to see.
4. Virtual Conferences and Retreats
Among the many events canceled, conferences and retreats have pivoted. Brands hoping to do the same should consider virtual speakers, VIP experiences, digital swag bags, online booths, and influencer Instagram takeovers. Attendees don’t have to feel like they missed out on anything!
A. Virtual Conferences
Adobe quickly turned their in-person conference into a virtual conference which provided plenty of opportunities for their sponsoring brands, like hoodoodigital, to be seen throughout the digital conference experience.
B. Virtual Retreats
Wheat & Honey Co. created a Holistic Revive Retreat for Busy Women. If women are your target market and your brand aligns with mindful messages, then a retreat could be a great way to get some buzz. Consider creating your own virtual retreat, inviting influencers to promote, or sponsor an existing retreat.
5. Virtual Concerts
Virtual concerts have become not only the norm but a successful opportunity for brands to be seen just as they would if the concert were live, possibly even more! YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasted concerts can be sponsored by your brand for increased views. Get the word out by inviting influencers or celebrities to attend, provide swag for attendees, and team up with another brand for an ideal collaboration.
A. Host a Virtual Concert
Together at Home + the World Health Organization created one of the first Virtual Music Festivals during this pandemic. The event involved a variety of well-known, featured artists to join in on the cause to stay home. Who doesn’t enjoy a music-inspired virtual marketing campaign?
B. Sponsor a Virtual Concert or Artist
If you’re not ready to host a concert on your own, find a concert or artist your brand wants to sponsor. Pepsi partnered with Global Citizen to host their next BIG concert filled with favorite stars that supported health workers on the front line of the pandemic. Check out Columbia Records new LIVESTREAM concert series on Instagram/YouTube and Twitch for upcoming events you could sponsor.
6. Virtual Dance Parties
Dance parties are something that a lot of brands can get behind. Kids, teens, millennials, parents, and even grandparents are getting off their couches to dance. With so many of these events canceled in real life such as prom, graduation parties, and dance-offs, it’s a great time to be seen and show your support for staying home.
A. Virtual Proms and Graduation
Once-in-a-lifetime events have been canceled in real life, but with brands like yours, they don’t have to be canceled virtually.
Serentees partnered with @StyleExpertDenise who hosted a virtual prom including giveaways, fashion tips, DJs, and guest appearances.
Some of these dance parties are hosted by influencers on popular platforms like TikTok, which, let’s be honest, is top-of-mind among brands and marketers when it comes to launching a relevant and sought-after virtual marketing campaign.
B. Virtual Dance Offs & Dance-a-thons
@iamwellandgood sponsored a DJ to host a LIVE Instagram dance party featuring popular dance music and a DJ who would do shout-outs for people to take the floor by clicking the request button and showing everyone their moves.
7. Virtual Fitness Communities
Gyms are closed and people are looking for ways to stay active while at home. If your brand aligns with health and wellness, then virtual workouts are definitely a great way to get some coverage while providing your consumers with something they need.
A. Brand Sponsored Workouts
Many workout clothing brands, including Spiritual Gangster, have used social platforms to lead at-home workouts and drive viewers to their channel, their hosts, and their brands.
B. Influencer-Hosted Takeovers
Using the cross-promotion of influencer hosted takeovers, brands can increase visibility, and grow their community. Virtual marketing campaigns of this caliber have been proven to get people engaged and pumped up! Lululemon is among the brands that have invited fitness influencers to take over their social media account to lead a workout or give health advice. Influencer takeovers show strong partnerships and support for the brand and influencer.
C. Workout Challenges and Training Tips
Social challenges, as we discussed, are a great way to strengthen your brand community and fitness challenges are no different. Gatorade created a six-day workout challenge on Facebook and teamed up with athlete influencers to share training tips.
Wrapping It All Up
If there’s a key takeaway from this blog post, it’s that now is the best time to Go VIRTUAL all while being sensitive to not capitalizing on the pandemic. Brands who are acting fast, using creativity, and providing relevant/sensitive messages are being heard loud and clear.