How To Use 360-Degree Video & Virtual Reality to Reach Local Audiences

How To Use 360-Degree Video & Virtual Reality to Reach Local Audiences Main Photo

7 Mar 2023

News, Video

Economic developers have latched onto 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR) because of its ability to reach people from outside of their geographic area. Focusing on the portability of the media and its ability to bust through the barriers of time, distance, and cost, however, neglects the true superpower of a 360-degree video to impact the behavior of the viewer after the video has been experienced.

The true power of immersive technology is in the physiological response to the media. When you virtually visit a place with 360-degree video and VR goggles, activity in your brain mimics what happens when you really visit in person. This brain activity stimulates feelings of empathy.

It is empathy that makes your message memorable and being memorable is vital in a world full of options and attention spans that flit from one image and thought to another. Empathy is a feeling that builds connections and nurtures trust which can then influence attitudes and behavior.

Knowing this, why would you want to limit the use of 360-degree video to reach people outside your geographic area when it can be the best tool to reach audiences within your state, region, and local community?

How To Use 360-Degree Video and Virtual Reality to Reach Local Audiences

Here are five applications to get you thinking about how economic developers and local organizations can use 360-degree video and VR to meet goals for recruiting, sales, and education.

1. Talent Attraction - Career Pathway and Day-In-The-Life Tours

Imagine that you're a high school student thinking about what career you want to pursue. Although your parents are pushing you towards college, you're not sure that's the direction you want to go. You'd really love to get into a profession that's hands-on, and that also requires skills and critical thinking. You know you could go to technical college but what you really want is a vision of where different skillsets can lead your career.

Now imagine that you can take a VR tour of local businesses to learn what they do and the different kinds of jobs that you'd find there. The tour takes you inside the facility and along with workers doing their jobs so that you can see what the environment is like. As different roles are described, you learn what skills and training are needed; and what to expect for pay. Your parents can go on the same VR tour and with a Virtual Meetings App, you can meet with someone at the company and get all your questions answered.

You can use 360-degree video and VR to recruit locally and nationally. Businesses communicate about their jobs and employer brand, while the community communicates the quality of life with Familiarization (FAM) Tours. Together you've got a recruitment marketing package that attracts skilled talent and grows your community at the same time.

2. Sales and Marketing - Virtual Tours and Facility Audits

Imagine that you're planning a wedding and you're shopping around for venues. Unless you're visiting at the same time that the event center is preparing for another wedding, it's hard to imagine what the bare space will look and feel like on your big day. Not only that, the outdoor space is just as important as the indoor space and it's hard to picture how spring or fall foliage will impact the backdrop for all of the activities that you want to take place. Photos help but they don't inspire you.

Now imagine, that the event center can put you in the middle of the space with 360-degree video and VR. As the decor, theme, and lighting change, you're inspired as you envision how your dream day can really unfold. While you stand in one place, you're transported to the patio and gardens that change from spring to summer to fall to winter. When it's time to start working with vendors, it's easy to get everyone on board because you can meet together in a virtual app to discuss specifics and put your plan into action.

Even though more and more business takes place digitally, your physical space can still be important in buyers' decisions. Even if customers don't need to visit in person, you can use 360-degree video and VR to create 3D facility tours to meet needs for quality qudits and develop confidence in the buyers' decision.

3. Community Involvement - Disaster Amenities and Service Organization Recruiting

Imagine that you have a desire to become more involved in your community. You know of a few service groups because you've seen them in town. You've visited a few organizations but it's hard to get a feel for the impact of their work by sitting in on a meeting. You really want to give your heart as well as your time, so it's important to know that the group shares your values. How can you tell that the people are devoted to service and not just to the organization?

Now imagine, that you can go through a year in the life of a service organization in a 360-degree VR video. You get to stand in the middle of their events and go behind the scenes to see how they work together to make things happen. Not only can you see what the organization does in the local community, but you can also travel around the globe to see how their philanthropy changes lives for the better.

Your residents can be your biggest promoters when they're excited about what you have to offer. Help them discover more of the riches that are right in their own backyard with 360-degree videos that take them up and down trails, in and out of restaurants and stores, and to the front row of a concert or dramatic performance.

4. Real Estate Development - Community Buy-In for Construction Projects

Imagine that you want to develop an old shopping mall site in the middle of town. The area is surrounded mostly by residential neighborhoods. These people don't like to see their previous retail center in decay, but they're worried that the multi-use development you're proposing will bring in its own see of problems. Most people don't know what "multi-use" means, and everyone wants to know "what's in it for me?"

Now imagine that you can take people for a tour of your proposed development with 360-degree video and virtual reality. As they stand in the middle of the empty site, they can see a 3D wall form to create the structure that will stand in that very spot. The scene moves around to show all of the aspects of the development, from coffee shops and restaurants to offices and apartments. As they experience the new place, they grow more comfortable with your plan because they know exactly what you're talking about.

When you're marketing industrial land, 3D renderings take the buyer to the next step by giving them a vision of what an empty lot would look like with their building in place.

5. Economic Development - Stimulate Local Conversations

You probably don't need to imagine this scenario, so answer this question instead - Do the people in your local community really understand the work that you do in economic development? If you're like a lot of economic development leaders, it's a challenge to get citizens interested in learning about the work you do and how it contributes to the quality of life they experience.

Now imagine that you're at a city expo or county fair and you have a pair of VR goggles at your booth. Just having the technology will be a magnet. People will approach you and ask what you're doing. While they're waiting for a turn with the VR goggles, you have a conversation, introducing yourself and talking about what you do. Then they go on your FAM tour with the goggles. Not only are they impressed, they learned something they didn't know before.

Be an Innovator in Your Community

If you're not happy with business as usual, and you're ready to make real progress with economic development, it's time to explore how you can use immersive technologies like 360-degree video and virtual reality to reach more people and guide them to action.

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