SXSW was a whirlwind of panels, schmoozing, and demoing the upcoming, super top secret VR experience for a luxury brand at our booth. Now that it’s behind us, we thought we’d share part of our presentation from Four Walls: Using VR to Drive Social Action, a panel we co-hosted with International Rescue Committee about the effectiveness of the Four Walls virtual reality experience we partnered on to create. Here are the six biggest takeaways from our work with IRC that brands can apply to creating and incorporating virtual reality into their marketing.
Build for VR, with or without a headset
We all know virtual reality content is best consumed on virtual reality headsets. But there are other outlets that support 360-degree content that will amplify your reach and help deliver your message. So, it’s important to make sure your content is accessible on desktop as well as VR headsets. Using a platform like YouVisit’s, you’ll be able to share the content on Facebook and YouTube, embed the experience on your website, and distribute it on mobile via app or mobile browser. A big part of the success of Four Walls came from collectively leveraging reach on desktop, mobile, and VR headsets.
Identify an authentic hook or interest
To ensure a successful campaign, VR content needs substance — a story that keeps your audience engaged and speaks to a real human need or interest. There are millions of pieces of content waiting to be consumed. Yours needs to be relevant to your audience and connect with them on an emotional level. Reward their willingness to invest their time in your story with compelling content.
Shoot for 360-degree
Shooting for 360-degree video is vastly different than shooting for 2D. To treat them similarly is a mistake. With 360-degree video, you must be conscious of the entire environment surrounding you. Everything around you becomes part of the scene and part of the story. Understand how that will affect the final product, and how you plan on integrating any technical people or equipment into a scene — or how you’ll remove them in post.
Let the medium drive the story
Virtual reality is a powerful storytelling tool that drives empathy in an unprecedented way. Allowing your audience to see life through someone else’s perspective is a highly powerful tool. Four Walls, which provided unprecedented access into the lives of Syrian refugees living in limbo in dilapidated homes in Lebanon, had an immediate real-life impact among donors who were moved to convert at 1.7 percent.
Create an interactive experience
Watching 360-degree video is interesting at first. But humans are an inquisitive species, prone to getting bored quickly. This applies to passively watching 360-degree video, too. With Four Walls, we leveraged our platform to incorporate interactive elements, keeping the audience engaged and able to make choices. This autonomy allows the viewer to take in the story in more easily digestible pieces.
Promotional plan is key
Compelling content won’t do much if there’s no plan to promote it. And relying solely on the right people to find it after launch isn’t a plan, either. Before going to Lebanon to shoot Four Walls, we created a promotional plan to ensure it would gain the exposure it needed to be successful. Working in partnership with the IRC, that plan, which included a press and social media strategy, helped us earn over 30 million unpaid impressions.
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If you’d like to chat about how we make it easy to create, produce, distribute, and track the performance of virtual reality content, head over to our contact page and reach out. We’ll be in touch within a day or two to set up time to talk.