Facebook is a social media monster, boasting over 1.5 billion active users per month in its Q3 earnings release. But in order to stay ahead of the pack and continually fuel growth, the company is looking to virtual reality as a new way to keep users engaged.
Back in September, Facebook enabled 360-degree video support via its website and the official Facebook Android app. Today, Facebook has announced that it’s extending 360-degree videos to the the iOS platform, which brings in the hundreds of millions of users with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad mobile devices.
In addition, Facebook is supporting the Samsung Gear VR, which is now available for $99 on preorder. Samsung smartphone users with Samsung Gear VR will be able to take part in a more visceral virtual reality experience. The Gear VR supports the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. And we have no doubt that Facebook will be supporting its Oculus Rift when it launches next year.
Facebook is also looking to enable content creators to take better advantage of 360-degree videos with a new microsite that provides a wealth of resources and information on how to give users the best possible viewing experience. There are a number of examples provided on the site along with some helpful hints from VR gurus Chris Milk and Aaron Koplin.
Some of the partners that have signed on to provide 360-degree video content include ABC News, Nickelodeon, Frontline and of course, GoPro. For the “Regular Joe” that wants to share videos, Facebook is working with consumer camera manufacturers like Theta and 360fly to ensure that the process of getting video content from your camera directly to Facebook is as streamlined as possible.
Finally, in order to ensure that it continues to feed its expansive advertising wing, Facebook is coming up with some rather innovative ways to keep users engaged. That means that companies like AT&T, Walt Disney, Samsung and Ritz will soon be placing 360-degree video ads directly into your News Feed. It’s definitely a high-tech way to engage users, but it will be interesting to see how popular the format becomes.