Forward Influence, a leader in the influencer marketing industry that works as a liaison between brands and influencer, has spent the past couple of months tracking the growth of digital brand activations and engagement on social platforms. Recently, they shared a number of their findings in their “How to Create a Buzzworthy Virtual Campaign” webinar, and I’ve taken the highlights out below so we can all stay further engaged in how to continue pushing clients to make compelling campaigns.


1) Converting Social Events in Digital Replicas


By now, we’ve all heard of the Zoom Happy Hour, but Forward has seen an incredible rise in similar events that are having great success, especially with those focused on a specific and niche interest. For example, book clubs have spiked greatly in activity, as the combination of a safe, at-home activity with the opportunity to actively engage during a schedule meet-up echoes what we’ve heard directly from influencers – fans are craving that interaction and escapism from their favorite personalities. Whether it’s providing the actual book/game/drinks for influencers to promote with their fans, or providing product to help support the stream, brands can leverage these moments for a direct connection and awareness boost. To see this as a best practice, check out this fun campaign that Marvel has been doing called “Storytime” on their social channels.


2) Closed-off Experiences via Streaming


According to JustWatch data, streaming has seen a massive growth during the coronavirus lockdown worldwide, as Spain, France and Italy have seen increases of 108%, 82% and 71%, respectively (U.S. is at 37%). The activities that seem to be leveraging this the best are around virtual experiences of off-limits places around the world that people miss the most. Interestingly, two of the campaigns Forward Influence spotlighted were with zoos, as the Smithsonian National Zoo’s stream of a cheetah giving birth to cubs and the San Diego Zoo’s live penguin cam have delivered strong fan engagement and donations to both institutions. If brands want to get involved (like Alaska Airlines did with the San Diego Zoo), they recommended adding layers to what is already available, such as conversations and wokshops with experts during the streams like Mercedes-Benz recently did via TikTok for FashionWeek Russia.


JustWatch streaming statistics



3) Virtual Acts of Service to Tell Stories


It’s obvious that most brands have already found ways to assist frontline workers, their communities, their employees and customers during this time with donations and contributions, which obviously brings positive brand association. The companies that have seen the most engagement online, however, are those that combine that act of giving with a story along with it, because consumers generally prefer brands that give them something to connect to. A prime example of this is Dove’s recent work with a variety of influencers in their recent hand washing challenge where influencers would write the reason that they stay home on their hand and encourage other content creators and their fans to do the same. The powerful messages led to a swell of user-generated content among a passionate community of parents, resulting in conversion for the brand.


4) Bringing Back Big Moments


Most of us have likely already heard of or seen the virtual concerts the WHO and Global Citizen (along with Pepsi) have hosted, where major bands and artists have performed from home to live audiences globally, and no doubt that those level of partnerships have been successful. But during the quarantine, your regular person may have missed out on a big personal event like a prom,  or graduation,  and Forward noted that these types of brand-supported replicas are seeing niche, yet very highly engaged response from consumers. Virtual dance parties with renowned DJ’s, beat battles and live proms have given people an opportunity to not miss out on the activities that they may have been hyped on for months, like Coachella, Austin City Limits and more.