360-Degree Videos

There’s no doubt that 360-degree videos have a “wow” factor. They are also a great tool to allow both companies and individuals to share their stories or show what they’re about. But, considering the relatively expensive equipment and video editing knowledge required to make them, are they a worthy investment for small businesses?

What are 360-degree videos?

A 360-degree video is created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. This gives viewers the ability to pan or rotate the perspective from all directions, just as they can in real life. In March 2015, YouTube began supporting 360-degree videos. In September, Facebook did too. Since then, these videos have been a popular option to enhance a company’s or individual’s social media presence.

If you haven’t seen a 360-degree video yet, click here to watch Facebook’s most popular 360-degree video to date: ABC News’ video of a blizzard in New York City’s Times Square. If you’re watching on a computer, drag your cursor across the screen to see the video from different angles. If you’re watching on your phone, tilt the screen to change your view.

Many marketers, social media gurus, and their peers buzzed with excitement when this new technology was released. They encouraged business owners to get on board and use these videos on their social media sites. However, this might be easier said than done.

How are 360-degree videos made?

Making these videos requires a 360-degree camera (or six cameras set up in a cube formation, but this setup requires extensive video editing later in the process). Most cameras fall in the $500-$800 price range. However, some cost as little as $400 or as much as $60,000.

The camera can be set up anywhere, but it is important to remember that since it films a 360-degree window, nothing can be “hidden” outside of the frame.

Once the video is filmed, all of the images have to be “stitched,” or combined into one, requiring specific software. There are many options available that run from free to paid service.

An optional final step is to further edit the video to put a personal spin on it. Any video editing software can be used, and most computers come with a very basic software.

Do 360-degree videos actually help businesses?

Social Media Examiner said the videos “produce more engagement and message retention than normal videos” in their “How To” on 360-degree videos. The videos’ interactive nature certainly encourages users to watch the videos instead of scrolling past them on their feeds.

One blog recommends using 360-degree videos to showcase special events, tourism and hospitality, real estate, sporting events, and museums. If these areas apply to your business, you may consider investing in the tools required to make 360-degree videos.

While these videos are effective in building and maintaining brand recognition and loyalty, for small businesses that don’t deal with the areas listed above, the cost may outweigh the benefits.

Hard numbers and research on whether these videos do or do not bring in revenue isn’t available, but it’s hard to imagine that these videos result in a dramatic profit increase. While these videos are definitely engaging and interesting, business owners and managers will have to consider whether they are seeking brand recognition or profit when considering investing in the equipment and skill set required to make these videos. Either choice can help one decide if a 360-degree video is a worthy investment for his or her business.

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