We’re always looking for different options to provide for our virtual tour customers. This week, we’ve been experimenting with the ability to host 360-degree video on YouTube and Facebook as an alternative or addition to a virtual tour. The concept? A curated selection of 360-degree images that can still be explored but in a video format instead of a virtual tour.
Now, to be clear, it is possible to film actual 360-degree video of a property. The reason not to? The photographer is always in the shot and, at least for real estate, the subject matter (a house or apartment) is typically not very animated. So the alternative is to use the 360-degree photos that we use in our virtual tours and create a slideshow. The interactivity comes from the user swiping around to look at the whole room, similar to a virtual tour, but without using hotspots to navigate. Here’s what we did. We took most of the photos from the virtual tour, for which we had already recorded a narrative, and basically show each photo for the duration of the narration. We could have gotten fancier, maybe cut to a few scenes where we talked about nearby parks and bus stop for example, but this was more about an experiment than a polished final result.
Possible Advantages of 360-Video
- View directly on Facebook or YouTube. All social media services want to keep users on their platform instead of linking elsewhere on the web. More eyes and more time means more ad views and more money. So it stands to reason that a video tour posted on Facebook will be more likely to be shown than a virtual tour link.
- A little easier for the computer-reluctant. You still need to click and drag around, unless you’re on a mobile and can use the built-in gyroscope, but you don’t need to click on hotspots to move room to room. A bit of a stretch to say that this is a real advantage.
Am I missing some advantages? Please let me know! In my opinion at least, I’m having a bit of trouble seeing this as a worthwhile alternative to a virtual tour. You lose the interactivity and are possibly stuck in a room longer than you would like to stay while you wait. We could somewhat cancel this by having a maximum 10-second per room slideshow, but there is also the risk that the video moves before the user is ready. The narration is easily achieved in our virtual tour anyway, and in fact we can even enable autopilot so the whole tour experience can be totally hands off. We just move the user’s camera around to correspond with the narration.
The main advantage would seem to be the social media marketing aspect. I would instead format this as a teaser video, select a few of the most exciting scenes, and use this to bring in traffic to more compelling content.
Go ahead and compare the video above with a virtual tour of the same property below.