We talk about new frontiers all the time in this forum and how important it is to be boldly venturing (pun intended) out into the world and adapting to how it’s changing—constantly pushing forward for progress. To do this, it takes adaptability, of course, but also a wealth of creativity and innovation.
Now, amid a global pandemic, many companies’ entire frameworks have been upended due to social distancing restrictions, work-from-home mandates, and numerous other necessary precautions. While we are grateful for these guidelines that keep us safe, this “new frontier” poses quite a challenge for daily operations, much less strong, forward motion.
We feel disconnected without our daily interactions and the sharpening we receive from stimulating conversations around the water cooler or during coffee breaks. Clients and consumers sometimes feel frustrated—and even forgotten—without that face-to-face contact and meaningful, personal engagement.
One company that is tackling these changing times like a champ is Fooji, an award-winning brand activation platform that helps the world’s most beloved brands acquire and engage fans. Founded in 2015 by Gregg Morton and Erik Zamudio, Fooji has quickly become an industry leader in the brand activation space—much of it thanks to its innovative method of reaching consumers.
A new offering that Fooji has launched to address the above-mentioned conundrum head-on is its collection of live, virtual events. In this way, the company is looking to meet the consumers’ needs and desires for that intimacy they are missing in the face-to-face communication of office life and a live forum where they can get all their questions answered and build a rapport in a revolutionary way. I recently sat down with Gregg and Erik (virtually, of course) to discover a bit more about their endeavor.
What are the biggest challenges in getting people to these virtual events?
“One of the challenges with virtual events is that people are now trying to balance the event participation with real life diversions in the remote work environment. When events were primarily in-person, the audiences’ attention was much easier to maintain. You weren’t competing with the television, running errands, or taking care of the family. Many of the world’s largest events have seen a drop in attendance, but with the right incentives and experiences, it’s possible to still make attendees feel like they’re a part of something more than just a video conference.”
What are the biggest challenges of creating that intimate atmosphere?
“Think about what makes a conference feel personal. It’s the way the speaker is able to directly engage with you and answer questions. It’s the products that you’re able to use and interact with. It’s the people you meet at the networking events. When we aim to recreate that atmosphere, the biggest challenge is making the experience personal for every fan that’s watching the event.”
What technical challenges have you overcome?
“The shift to virtual events happened very quickly. Because of this, several new platforms grew in popularity and usage. Platforms like Zoom, TikTok, and more. From a technical standpoint, we had to find ways to integrate into these new platforms so we could help our clients execute on them. Within the first month of the pandemic, we were able to run activations that included both Zoom and TikTok.”
How do you see the events industry changing in 2021?
“For now, this is our new normal. We expect more brands to get creative in the ways that they reach and engage with fans in the coming year. One particular area of focus for us is the live sports industry. Many of the world’s top leagues have found ways to make events work for them, but there is still a lack of fan interaction. We’re hopeful that more leagues will use platforms like Fooji to give fans a more engaging experience during the game.”
What is the key to turning your fans’ online engagement into offline relationships?
“Fans are so accustomed to brands taking without giving anything in return. Our platform creates a new type of dynamic between brands and their customers, helping create longer term relationships.”
How do you get fans to participate in virtual events?
“Of course, the speakers are a huge part of what makes any event valuable for attendees. However, we also believe it’s important to provide amazing experiences and unique offerings to keep people engaged. Give people something to look forward to and help create a tangible experience to the virtual event.”