The future of digital media consumption is poised to become all about immersion, and 360-degree video is the gateway drug to a fully interactive virtual experience. Last September, Facebook introduced 360-degree videos with the intent of providing content that allows you to connect with the people and things that matter most. The imminent onset of virtual reality calls for social media professionals to embrace the technology and adjust their digital strategies to accommodate accordingly.
An Immersive User Experience
A primary target audience of ours is middle and high school-aged students who are considering our institution as a destination to advance their education, and many of these students are located around the country and across the world. “Want to see which residence hall you could be living in? Here’s a 360-degree experience.” The same experience goes for alumni who have fond memories of being on campus and sometimes just want to feel like they are back on the iconic Oval, sitting in the grass. The user experience just got a whole lot more real.
Industry Thought Leadership
This technology is still fresh. Get in while it’s hot and establish yourself as a digital thought leader by incorporating innovative content into your feed. The level of difficulty varies with the type of experience you aim to portray, though. Interactive Facebook panoramas are simple to create with an iPhone, but a 360-degree video requires special equipment and editing software. Either way, the technology is new enough that folks will be impressed with your skills. But hurry up before your grandma figures it out.
TechCrunch declares, “360 Photos made from panoramas could democratize VR content creation by allowing people to make it with no special equipment . . . In fact, many people will have already created this content, which before was tough to view.” Though the technology is new, there is often no need to access special tools to create such content.
The quality for 360-degree videos is grainy. A disclaimer on the website for Ricoh Theta — a popular 360-degree camera — states that “Data is recorded in full HD (1920×1080), but the resolution of spherical videos when viewed differs depending on the type of display or display magnification.” In more straightforward words, the video will look nice on a tiny phone screen but not-so-nice on a 24-inch desktop monitor.
The tools are there, but they aren’t great… yet. Despite mentioning above that accessing tools to create 360-degree content was a benefit, a large gap exists between creating 360-degree content and creating good 360-degree content. You’ll need an iPhone running iOS 6 or later, an Android running v4.2 or later or one of many 360 photo apps available for download for interactive panoramas to work. But the trouble with an interactive panorama is that it isn’t 360 degrees. And it isn’t a video. An ideal set up would be the GoPro Omni, which produces high quality video footage by using six GoPro cameras. The only catch is the price: $5,000.
Some kinks have yet to be ironed out. We discovered that the interactive panorama feature is not preserved when an image is captured and texted to another person. Further yet, some of our colleagues have been unable to get Facebook to recognize their photo as being an interactive panorama, despite following all of the necessary steps. And as for the numerous apps available to purchase claiming to create 360-degree video, our team was unable to find one that was compatible with Facebook.