Social distancing got you down? Here’s how to move your events online

Fri Mar 20 2020
Magda Houalla

As the world tries to minimize the spread of COVID-19, there’s a lot of heaviness, fear, and anxiety in the air right now. Rightfully so, people around the world are avoiding group activities and practicing social distancing, limiting our ability to participate in the events and everyday tasks that make us happy.

We’re here to help businesses navigate through this time as we all try to maintain a sense of community without risking one another’s health. Events big and small, such as SXSW and Coachella, have been canceled or postponed in order to comply with CDC protocol. Yet, people are still looking for ways to interact with one another and entertain themselves while in self-isolation.

With social media engagement jumping over 27% in the last month, brands should embrace this unique opportunity to interact with global audiences online and virtually bring communities together. Coronavirus is a sensitive subject. Not only are people getting sick, but businesses are shutting down and people are getting laid off. We want to offer strategic solutions that are rooted in empathy, and are in no way opportunistic or taking advantage of the situation at hand. That said, now more than ever brands should lean into their communities of influencers to help spread positive messages and promote unity.

Here are 3 ways to bring your events online to engage with your community and continue building valuable relationships amidst the isolation.

1. Get into festival spirit with #Couchella

Coachella, along with many other festivals, has been postponed, but brands and influencers can still find creative ways to get into the festival spirit with #Couchella.

Work with influencers to encourage their audiences to get dressed up, turn on some music, and quite literally dance like no one is watching (because they’ll be twirling around in the comfort of their own homes).

Acknowledge that people everywhere — including brands and influencers — are suffering from the effects of the global pandemic. We’ve seen influencers use thoughtful language like: “Creating content around festival season is a big source of my income. I’m super thankful for [Brand] for continuing our partnership — but from home.”

Get creative with video content, by exploring options like YouTube Premieres, IGTV, and Instagram Live to get people excited about the virtual festival experience. If you had a product launch planned around festival season, leverage #Couchella livestreams.

Brands like Insert Name Here are going all in on the virtual hangouts. This week, the company launched its new clip-on hair buns, which were meant to be perfect for the festival season. However, in light of recent events, the brand is now planning to host a #Couchella livestream next week with its co-founders, Sharon Pak and Jordynn Wynn, to showcase DIY hair looks.

2. Use Instagram Live

I’m sure we’ve all received an Instagram notification saying, “@[account] started a live video. Watch it before it ends!” at some point. Now, as people continue to socially distance themselves, the Live feature is having its moment. Musicians are performing free online concerts and celebrities are entertaining their audiences by answering questions and sharing feel-good stories.

Instagram Live is a great way to connect with your audience in real-time. Comments will appear at the bottom of the screen, allowing a two-way dialogue between you and your viewers. Additionally, Instagram allows you to start a live video with another person by either inviting a friend to join your live video, or asking to join the live video of a friend.

Take advantage and get to know your community better. Invite some of your favorite influencers to go live with you. If you’re hosting an online festival like #Couchella, ask influencers questions as if you were a reporter at the event.

Your Q&A could cover questions like:

  • What are you doing to keep yourself occupied while at home?
  • What does your daily routine look like now?
  • What is your go-to work from home outfit?
  • How are you keeping up with your fitness routine?
  • Any other relevant topic that fits well within your industry.

3. Invite your community to virtual happy hours

Who doesn’t love a good happy hour? Invite community members, whether it be your customers, brand ambassadors, or employees, to a fun online cocktail hour. By streaming in from their own homes with a drink of their choice, people will be able to meet and mingle in a more relaxed manner.

Get to know your happy hour guests by asking questions and having discussions about how your brand can better connect with them — just as you would at an in-person event. Better yet, add in a segment like an influencer panel to offer your community a peek into what’s going on with people from different walks of life. Influencers from various cities or countries can weigh in on the current state they’re in.

Digital marketing company Srax recently held a virtual happy hour for its entire 150-person workforce across its five offices around the world. Kris Nelson, COO of Srax, commented, “We started at 4:30. I didn't end up leaving till 6 because we were all online talking and hanging out. It's rare for the whole company to get together for something, it was actually an incredible point of connection.”

And don’t forget to take some screenshots of the event and share it with your broader social community!

Remember to stay inside! We will get through this together.

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