Gear 360 And S7 Are Great For Business Marketing

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Gear 360 And S7 Are Great For Business Marketing
November 4, 2016

CHICAGO, IL – JULY 28: A view of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Samsung Gear 360 on display at Samsung Creator’s Lab at Lollapalooza 2016 – Day 1 at Grant Park on July 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gabriel Grams/Getty Images for Samsung)
 
360 degree photos and videos are increasingly showing up on the web and in our social media feeds. Big brands are betting big on consumer and business interest. Facebook acquired Oculus, YouTube started offering 360 image (called photospheres) and video viewing, and a host of other services are popping up that enable you to experience what GoPro cameras started offering a few years ago – a sweeping view of the experience, the environment all around you. These 360 cameras provide a great new way to engage with customers.
 
Disclosure: Cricket Wireless generously arranged for a short-term media loan of the Samsung S7 that I used on this story. I purchased the Samsung Gear 360 direct from Amazon for my business, Refine Digital. My teenage son was most interested in testing the waterproof ability of the new S7, but I forbid him from singing in the shower with it (despite the videos he’s seen otherwise). Without the S7, the Gear 360 Camera is certainly usable, but you gain access to advanced aspects of the camera via a Samsung product. My hope is that they quickly open up the app to other smartphones besides their own.
 
So, what’s so great about these new-ish cameras that let you capture everything around you? The main one is you can create a better experience within Google Maps so that your increasingly mobile customers, who search to find you on Google from their smartphones. Here’s a simple interior capture I did while wandering around near Seattle one weekend – the friendly Kingston Starbucks and another one of the Grandma Bean’s Bakery in Texas done by Hank Miner. This one aspect alone makes the camera worth the purchase, in my opinion. You can simply keep adding interesting photospheres and videos to your Google business profile as well as elsewhere, providing additional ways to engage with customers.
 
As I’ve learned, Google Street View wants more user-generated content (who doesn’t want others to generate great new content for your business, for free?), and they are making it increasingly easy for you to upload your own and for people to view it. YouTube (owned by Google or Alphabet) is doing the same. 360 cameras like the Samsung Gear 360 make it relatively easy. Sure, there was some learning curve and using the camera without the S7 (or an S6) made it slightly more challenging. The obvious challenge is the cute little white sphere does not have a photo display, so you’re literally shooting blind. You cannot see the footage until you upload it to a computer. But the camera is so easy to use that your biggest obstacle is finding a way to get out of the image within 10 seconds (the longest time-delay you can set on the shutter).
 
The software that Samsung provides a key to a program called Action Director (from Cyberlink) and it works pretty well. I found it fast and easy to use. As anyone who works with images and video can tell you, it takes a bit of computer power to render these files, but the program works pretty efficiently. However, you cannot take the images straight to Facebook or YouTube without “stitching” the images together, which does happen automatically in Action Director.
 
Your biggest bang for the marketing buck, though, is on Facebook or YouTube where those services make it incredibly easy to upload and manage the files. With YouTube, of course, they make it very easy to embed and view any video from anywhere. To view these on Facebook will depend on your profile settings.
 
Facebook is investing in 360 in a massive way (that’s sort of a vast understatement); and that means they are making it very easy for people, particularly small and midsize businesses, to use and leverage their platform for 360 images and video. Since they started rolling out 360 videos in News Feed last September, more than 250,000 360 videos have been uploaded to Facebook. That’s not huge, but it presents an opportunity for the marketing-savvy.
 
To further clarify, while these 360 degree cams can provide an immersive 3D-like experience, they are not instant virtual reality or augmented reality cameras. Yes, you can use the Samsung Gear VR headset (or HTC Vive, or a Google Cardboard-like device such as the Mattel View-Master VR) to view one of these videos and move about in a 360 scene, but there’s a lot more to VR/AR than just these images or videos alone.
 
I’m here to tell you that the affordability and usability of these 360 degree cameras can make a difference in how you present and market your business to others.
 
Resources:
 
If you want to explore the differences of 360 cams with VR, you’ll want to read what pros like Eric Adams at Gear Patrol have to say, as he does well here: Most Virtual Reality Is Not Virtual Reality. Here’s Why.
 
If you are looking for ideas or recommendations on 360 cameras, one of my new favorite blogs on all things 360 is the 360 Rumors blog by Mic Ty. His 360 camera comparison post is quite helpful.
 
Plus, I’ll continue exploring this 360 camera topic and its use for savvy marketers on my Facebook page: TechBizTalk. My thanks, again, to Samsung for loaning me the S7 smartphone. As my son says, it is one amazing phone (and he’s an iPhone fan).
 
Stay in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter. Tag me as @3DTJ on Instagram photos for 3D tech. Let's keep the conversation going!

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