The MassInteract Blog

How to Maximize Exposure for Your Brand by Marketing Your 360 Virtual Tour

Perhaps you’re considering building a virtual tour. Maybe you’ve even created it already or hired a virtual tour company to do it for you. What’s important to remember is that just creating a 360 virtual tour is not enough. It’s how the tour is marketed that is crucial. You have to work on making the most out of this marketing asset — which means more visibility and increased exposure. Here’s how:

Email signature

This is a very simple yet effective way to start promoting your virtual tour. You can’t physically embed your virtual tour onto an email, but you can definitely hyperlink it in your email signature.

One way of doing this would be to take a screenshot and downsize it to 30×30 (30 pixels in width by 30 pixels in height). Then import this thumbnail into your email signature. Click on the thumbnail, find the paper clip icon and click on it, and then add your virtual tour URL to this. If you want something even more creative, turn the thumbnail into an animated GIF, making it even more likely that people will click on it.

If this seems like too much work, just have an anchor tag like “Take a look at our property” in your email signature and just hyperlink it to your virtual tour.

Integrate the tour into your website/app’s user journey

It’s important to have your virtual tour displayed prominently at the right part of the customer journey. You need the user to see the tour after they start exploring the site a little bit, but long before they are coming to a purchase decision. Using pop-up windows at the relevant time is also a good idea to make sure people can really look at everything that your property has to offer.

Promoting your tour on Facebook

Facebook is one of the most friendly social media platforms when it comes to marketing your virtual tour. You can post your tour on your business page and then boost the post or create an ad out of it to generate more traffic to your tour and thereby your website. Facebook ads are fairly economical so if your goal is to get more hotel bookings or get your real estate listing out there, there’s no better way.

Facebook also has an option called 360 photos, where viewers can get 360-degree views of a given area. What you can do is take a look at all your 360 photography and find panoramic photos that you can use in 360 photos. This will give an added edge to your marketing strategy.

Promoting on other social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin)

Facebook is the only social media platform that offers 360-degree compatibility. Having said that you can create animated GIFs of your virtual tour (there are a number of free apps that you can use for this), and then post those to garner attention. With this animated GIF, you can have a short, hip video that will help you gain quick traction on these platforms. Of course, the platforms you will choose to focus on will depend on the nature of your business. Hospitality businesses would likely promote more on Instagram whereas a real-estate business that is selling a commercial property might be better off on Linkedin.

Virtual tours have indeed emerged as the most trendy marketing tool out there, especially in the last few years. But there’s no point in investing time and money to get the tour just right if you’re not going to make it a point to promote it. Make sure you integrate the tour into every aspect of your marketing strategy so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

The Top 4 Predictions for the Future of Photography

Photography has indeed come a long way. When it was first invented in 1839, it revolutionized the world through its ability to capture a scene with incredible accuracy. Today, it has advanced in such breathtaking ways, allowing us to click moments and scenes for posterity with the phone in our pocket.

Yet, we have just scratched the surface when it comes to the power of photography. Here are some of the technologies that are set to transform the art of capturing scenes.

360 Photography

A 360° image is nothing but a spherical panorama image which has interactivity built into it. This technique means that you can capture a location from multiple angles, rather than through one simple perspective. 360 photography works great for virtual tours where it can give the viewers an immersive experience, making them feel as if they’re actually in that location. Viewers can rotate the scene in different directions, zoom in and out, enter and exit rooms, read texts, click on links, and watch videos.

With specialized 360° photography equipment, apps, and platforms like Facebook making it simple to share 360° photos, this type of photography is really booming. From interior photography, weddings and events, product overviews, and store interiors to social media engagement and nature and landscape photography, 360° photography is now omnipresent. However, this is still the tip of the iceberg as more and more brands are looking to integrate 360 photography into their marketing strategy.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) are seeing wide adoption from users now, and the world of photography is richer because of it. Today, VR and AR allows us to capture not only an isolated frame from a particular scene (the way conventional photography does) but actually showcase the entire environment and enable viewers to engage with. Which means viewers have now transformed from passive consumers of images to active participants in the visual process.

VR/AR allows people to capture experiences and environments in a much more holistic way— whether that’s the look and feel of a college campus, the joys of playing a round on a golf resort, or capturing a special family dinner. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI already works inside the camera — whether it’s in autofocus systems, tracking, stabilization, or automatic exposures. The role of AI in photography is only set to expand. Faster and more intuitive autofocusing is the biggest application of AI that one can think of. Entire scenes could potentially be captured automatically with the perfect exposure.

However, AI doesn’t just apply to improvements in camera. AI can also be applied in a big way to image editing software— computers will now be able to recognize every part of a picture for what it is and act accordingly. You will no longer have to manually input keywords.

Smartphones will also incorporate AI in their camera and image editing. Skylum’s Luminar 3, for instance, already has AI-powered filters that make editing really simple and intuitive.

There will also come a time when the 100s of photos you take for the same scene will automatically be deleted, leaving you only with the best shots. This will happen as the AI algorithm learns from your choices over time to know exactly which pictures you will prefer.

For businesses, these leaps in innovation are quite crucial. Many brands are incorporating more immersive 360 photography in marketing assets like virtual tours to build a more holistic and cutting-edge brand experience. This is the perfect time to understand the latest trends in photography and leverage them to build your brand.

The Top 7 Virtual Tour Stats You Need to Know

Virtual tours are all the rage — from top-of-the-line hotels to niche realtors, everyone seems to be integrating virtual tours of their properties with their website. If you’re considering setting up a virtual tour for your business, but aren’t sure if it will work for you, here are some statistics that could help.

Virtual tours increase interest in your business by 2X

A Google study found that people’s interest in local businesses increased by two times when the company had a 360 virtual tour as part of their website. What’s more, 67% of respondents in the same study wanted more businesses to include virtual tours on their website. So not only do virtual tours have good outcomes, but they’re actually becoming the norm and coming to be expected by customers.

Virtual tours mean that people will stay 5-10 times longer at a website

It’s one thing to attract website traffic, it’s another thing to ensure it doesn’t drop off. With virtual tours people stay 5-10 times as long on a website. Naturally, the longer they stay on the website, examining the property, the higher the chances of conversion.

54% of buyers won’t look at a property unless it’s supported by a virtual tour

This is a stat from the National Association of Realtors and it means that buyers will no longer look at a property if it doesn’t have good visual support. This means that if you hope to get views for your listings, virtual tours are a must-have.

The Return on Investment for virtual tours comes in less than 4 weeks

It’s all very well to say that virtual tours bring more eyeballs and website traffic, but are they financially viable? This statistic proves that virtual tours are great for the bottom line. If you can recover your entire investment within a month’s time, then this marketing asset is definitely worth having.

360-degree panoramic images get 45% more engagement on social media than conventional photos

Google virtual tours use what we call 360 images. As virtual tours become more mainstream, these photos have become increasingly trendy, especially on social media. A study by Social Bakers says that organic 360 images get 45% more interaction than conventional photos. This means that businesses that invest in virtual tours — whether it’s restaurants, hotels, realtors, or colleges— have a unique opportunity to get more organic exposure for their brand.

Virtual tours increase bookings by up to 67%

When it comes to hotels and restaurants, having a virtual tour in place increases bookings up to 67%. Having 360 images that come together to narrate a beautiful story immediately gives any hospitality business a major edge above its competitors. Having a virtual tour on your website results in a large increase in that most important metric — conversions.

Listings with virtual tours get 87% more views than listings without virtual tours

If you’re in the real estate business, having property virtual tours is well worth the investment. If it’s you vs. another realtor who has compelling virtual tours on their website, there are no prizes for guessing who’s going to get shortlisted for the physical tours.

In the last few years, virtual tours have become increasingly popular, both as a way of reaching more people as well as getting more conversions. If you’re looking for a marketing tool that really comes with value for money, Google virtual tours are probably your best bet.

5 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Tour Photographer Before Hiring Them

The virtual tour industry hasn’t been around for too long, but it has grown exponentially in the last few years, taking the marketing world by storm. One of the big reasons for this explosive growth is the fact that Google has come into the virtual tour business. Google is using the same technology that powers Google Maps to create Google Street View — virtual tours for business.

As a result, businesses— especially in industries like travel, real estate, and education— have been in a massive rush, trying to get their virtual tours out there as quickly as possible. Given this hurry, a lot of photographers have also emerged, all of whom claim to be experts in virtual tour photography.

Many people have a tendency to hire the person who comes at the most affordable cost. However, it’s important to spend some time to figure out whether a photographer is a right fit for your virtual tour. Hiring the wrong photographer can have disastrous consequences — you may even have to end up redoing the entire thing, resulting in a huge waste of time and money.

Before you settle on someone to whom you can entrust your virtual tour photography, here are some questions you should ask:

Do they have experience in virtual tour photography?

This is probably the most important question. The kind of 360 panoramic photos that are required in virtual tours are very different from conventional photos. Unless a photographer has extensive experience in virtual tour photography, chances are you will end up wasting a lot of time. It’s even better if they have experience in your niche — whether that’s hotels, college campuses, or real estate listings. Try to talk to as many references as you can to make sure the photographer can walk the talk.

What equipment do they use to shoot 360 virtual tour photos?

Google has recently lowered the bar for the cameras that can be used to click 360 images for virtual tours. As a result, a lot of photographers out there have a basic “360 camera” that they will tell you is sufficient to produce high-quality images.

However, if you really want a professional-looking virtual tour, you should have a DSLR camera with a minimum of 16 megapixels. The camera should have both an on-camera as well as an off-camera flash, not to mention wide-angle lenses (usually 10mm). An image done with a DSLR has a much higher resolution; there’s also the added advantage of the lens difference. What’s more, processing a 360 image and moderating the images into a proper virtual tour is best done by someone with the skill set to handle professional equipment.

If a photographer compromises on the quality of their equipment, chances are they will compromise on the quality of your images as well.

Do they have the right technical skills to get the job done?

The photographer needs to have a fair bit of knowledge about the technicalities of 360 photos. Here are some of the main things they should be well-informed about:

  • The best vantage point for a 360-degree spin
  • The correct camera position to achieve proper composition and exposure
  • The best lens to be used in each situation
  • The best time of the day to shoot the images so that the lighting is perfect
  • Staging of the location
  • Staging people in different images
  • An accurate estimate of how long the entire process will take

Do they have the right personal skills to get the job done?

You are entrusting the photographer with building a key marketing asset for you. That’s why personal attributes like trust, professionalism, punctuality, customer service, and work ethic become important. The best way to validate these personal skills is to talk extensively with as many references as possible.

A virtual tour is one of the most valuable marketing tools you can build today — it gives you a Return on Investment in as little as four weeks. Make sure you hire the right photographer to get a high-quality job done within a reasonable time frame.

You may like to read – Hire the Right Company for Your Business Virtual Tour

Top