If you've scrolled through Facebook in the last couple weeks, especially if you follow a bunch of geeky (I mean that in a positive way) social media peeps, you've probably seen your Facebook feed flooded with 360 degree photos.
Facebook introduced the ability to upload and view 360 degree photos earlier this month and, while many couldn't care less, many lost their dang minds over this new feature!
I have now seen more people's streets, backyards, and random "outdoorsey" locations than I ever have. Don't get me wrong, these are all fine and dandy when posting on your personal profile on Facebook. But even then, maybe let's not overdo it, ok?
It gets annoying though when business pages decide they want to get in on all the excitement and they have absolutely no idea what type of 360 degree photo to share. So they share their street or some picturesque place that has no relevance to their business - all in the name of embracing a new trend.
Ugh. Please stop!
What should you be sharing? Here are some ideas on how you can use 360 degree photos for your business.
When I say workspace, I mean actual workspace. Not the street in front of your house. Not your backyard. Not a corner of office - remember, it's 360 degrees!
If you have a physical store or brick and mortar location, take a 360 of your front office or shop area. This invites people in to the location to really get a feel for what your location looks like and what they can expect when they visit. An exception to the "street" would be for these types of businesses where you can get a great 360 degree image of your storefront while showing your audience what your local neighborhood looks like. It's kinda like a Google Earth view but better so that customers can better find your location. This is great for retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses that welcome new and returning customers daily.
If you have a warehouse, storage, or manufacturing set up of any kind (even your spare room in your house 😉 ), take a 360 photo to show what this set looks like. This shows people how serious you are about your merchandise and offers them a behind-the-scenes look at how you operate.
If you are more of a home office and service based business, you could still take a 360 of your workspace. You could make this fun showing "behind the camera" that everyone sees on your videos. Is the rest of your office messy, cluttered, clean, full of kids toys? Again, you're letting your audience into your world on a more personal level but that is actually related to your business.
Does your workspace change regularly? If you're a photographer or speaker, your "workspace" may be a different client location every time. A great 360 (with the client's permission, of course) that shows your set up, the environment, the audience, and all the working pieces going on behind the camera can be a really unique way to highlight what you do.
Team Events or Gatherings
Out for a celebratory team dinner? Want to introduce new employees? Celebrating an employee's birthday or company anniversary? Get everyone in a circle and have the 360 degree photo shot from the center of the group to capture everyone in one big smiling, happy photo.
This invites personality and a human dynamic to your brand while showcasing it in a unique and less-posed way (rather than everyone lined up in a row against the wall).
Events and Conferences
Do you go to seminars, conferences, charity events, local community events? Whether you're sponsoring an event or attending the event, your customers and audience are likely interested to know what you're doing and how you're participating.
Stand in the middle of a busy area of the event, if you can, and grab an awesome 360 degree photo of the whole venue to give your audience a fun perspective. Include some takeaways or tips from the event to boost the value of this type of image.
Do you travel for work? Do you visit fun, lively, exciting places? Ok, then you could justify some scenic photos in 360. But please make it interesting. Another random green grassy hill or random street in Boringville does not fall into this category.
A travel blogger or global speaker would make great use of this feature to showcase new locations or venues.
If, and I mean IF, you can tie it to your business, an amazing and unique perspective photo could be highly valuable to your posting strategy. I'm talking standing at the peak of the highest building in your city, getting a panoramic shot of the whole city view. Or looking out from an airplane (or even as you jump out of an airplane). Or hanging off the side of a cliff. Or scaling a mountain. Or zip-lining. Or crossing a suspension bridge.
Ok, you get my point. If your brand is about these kind of unique places or opportunities, you can totally use a great 360 degree photo. But, even if your brand isn't specifically about this but you did something like this and could tie it (your personal side, a marketing message, etc.) to your brand, these types of images are something that would stand out in the feed and that your audience would enjoy.
There are many other ways that you can get creative and find unique ways to share 360 photos that don't bore or annoy your audience. Put that thinking cap on!
Now that you know what you should be sharing, how do you create these photos?
Well, it's actually pretty easy, if you're planning accordingly.
A couple things to consider: Right now, this feature only works for panoramic style photos on iOS devices and Samsung Galaxy devices (or you can use a special 360 degree camera).
So, if you don't want to buy any fancy equipment, the good news is you don't have to! Just switch your camera on your mobile device to panoramic and shoot the photo from your device. I recommend keeping your photo in the portrait (vertical position) to maximize screen space and provide more depth to the 360 image. You can shoot in a full 360 circle, in which case the photo will connect and loop in a full circle (360 degrees). Or you can shoot any portion of a full rotation and when you upload the image, it will stop scrolling when you get to the "edge" of the image. Although, I should point out that if I got "too" close to a full 360 in my shot, it wouldn't upload to Facebook as a 360 photo. It seemed like 270 degrees (3/4 of a full rotation) was the max that I could shoot and get it to upload to Facebook.
From what I can tell, you can also only upload panoramic photos that were taken AFTER your Facebook app updated to support this feature. I have older panoramic photos (even from a couple weeks ago before my app supported this) and they will not upload as 360 photos.
To upload the image to Facebook, go to the Facebook app and start a status update. Choose "Photo/Video" and select the image from your gallery or camera roll. From what I've seen on my device (Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge), when scrolling through your gallery on your phone, a little compass looking icon is in the bottom right corner of the image(s) that are able to be imported as 360 degree photos. Then, select that image, write your status update, and hit "publish". You'll see it converting the photo (much like it does when uploading a video) as a scroll bar indicates progress on the post. Then, it's live and ready for 360 degree viewing!
You have to upload from the Facebook status update and select the photo/video post option, then choose your panoramic photo. If you start in your gallery or camera roll and share that image to Facebook, it will not import as a 360 degree photo.
You know an image is a 360 degree photo because it has that compass icon on the photo and if you hover over the image on the desktop, you'll get an overlay that tells your to drag your mouse to see more of the photo. On your mobile device you can rotate and turn the device to see different areas of the image. Or you can simply tap and drag the image.
Ok, now you know everything you need to about taking and uploading 360 degree photos to Facebook. And you know what types of photos to share with your audience that will actually benefit your Facebook strategy. So, go try it out! I'd love to hear how it works for you - feel free to leave a comment below!