The mention of Virtual Reality (VR) always makes for buzzworthy news in social media marketing - the technology has the potential to shake-up the social media experience for both consumers and marketers.
The prospect of social VR gained significant momentum when Facebook acquired company Oculus VR for $2 billion back in 2014. The acquisition lead to increased buzz around the option - in fact, a recent study found that people are more likely to buy from brands that use virtual reality.
But despite the hype, many are still confused or unaware of what exactly it is or how they might be able to use it in their own strategies.
Mashable defines VR as "a fully immersive computer simulated environment that gives the user the feeling of being in that environment instead of the one they're actually in." One of the most popular ways to experience VR is through a headset, but it can be both elaborate and expensive. The basic Oculus Rift headset will cost you around $600 for just the headset, though there are more entry-level devices like Google Cardboard, which enables people to use their smartphone to connect into virtual environments.
So now that we understand what VR is and how to experience it, what are brands doing to connect with users on social media?
Here are a few examples - and while it would be ideal to view these videos with at least a Google Cardboard device, you can still watch them in your web browser to get an idea of the experience.
Shoe company Toms took users to a remote village in Peru where they could experience a giving trip. Kids then appeared, happy and grateful for the arrival of the volunteers. The children weren't just happy about the shoes; they were also happy that the volunteers played with them, interacted with them, and got to know them.
The immersive experience allowed for incredibly emotional storytelling.
Mercedes showed off its latest SL model with a virtual drive on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. During the drive, users were able to look around the interior of the car, peer up through the sunroof, and watch as the car navigated the road. When transitioned to convertible mode, a glance to the right revealed the Pacific Ocean.
To promote its new Filled Cupcake Flavored cookies, Oreo created an animated virtual world that took users through a mystical fantasy land complete with milk rivers and chocolate canyons.
The video has had over three million views and counting.
4. XFINITY & NASCAR
XFINITY simulated the intensity of being immersed in a real NASCAR race by putting the user right in the action: as a spectator, at a pit stop, on the back of a racing car, and inside a car alongside the driver.
It's definitely one of the most intense, spectacular uses of VR by a brand.
Other notable brand examples to check out:
The possibilities of VR are 'virtually' endless, but what's important to note is that a brand's VR video must have a purpose - be it for sheer entertainment, emotional connection or to share a message. And definitely businesses need to utilize the technology properly and ensure they're providing a quality experience..
This was originally published on Likeable Media's blog.