What is Facebook 360? In addition to the regular feed of selfies, summer vacation shots, and cute kid videos, you’ve probably noticed some 360-degree photos and videos on Facebook lately. The social media giant rolled out support for 360 content in June, and in a word, it’s awesome. It’s quasi-virtual reality for the masses, with no extra equipment required and subject matter that appeals on a wide scale. True, it’s not fully immersive, but for a 360 experience on your laptop or smartphone, it’s really good.


Because it’s so new and intriguing, 360 photos and videos are a unique and interesting way to engage your business’s followers. It’s such a recent development, though, and since many business owners don’t know enough about it, they may be hesitant about using 360 content. In reality, though, it’s as accessible as anything else you do on Facebook. Here are five things you should know about Facebook 360 photos and videos.


  1. They’re surprisingly easy to create.

You know how to take a picture and shoot a video on your smartphone, but your small pocket device can’t possibly create more technologically advanced media…can it? In short, yes it can! There are a number of free panorama apps for both iOS and Android, and the built-in camera apps can also create simple panos for you.


Creating 360 video is a little more involved, but it’s still easy. If this type of media will help to promote your business, you can invest in a 360 camera. There are affordable options out there, such as the 360fly, which can be purchased for around $300. Or, if you just want to dabble in creating 360 video, there are some free apps out there, like Splash (for iOS now and Android soon).


Uploading 360 photos and videos works the same as any other photo or video; if your media is more than 100 degrees, Facebook will automatically convert it into 360 content.


  1. Facebook automatically identifies all 360 content for followers

How will your followers know that your photo or video is 360? Facebook conveniently places its 360 logo over and a header above all 360 content. While some less tech-savvy users may not recognize what’s going on, most Facebook users will pick up on the unique quality of content marked as 360.


  1. There’s (almost) no VR headset support for 360 content.

Not having any virtual reality headset support is both a good and a bad thing. For casual tech users who aren’t interested in a full VR experience, they can get some immersiveness without having to buy any extra equipment. However, for serious gamers who already own a VR viewer, the toned down VR of Facebook 360 content can be frustrating.


There is one exception, though, and it’s for people who have a relatively new Samsung smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR viewer. Facebook 360 content does have Samsung Gear VR support, which means that owners of these specific devices can use their Gear headset to view 360 photos and videos. Why only Samsung? It’s strictly a business thing: Samsung has a business partnership with Oculus, which is owned by Facebook. There may be more extensive headset support in the future, but there’s no official word on any of that just yet.


  1. The Guide feature allows you to flag points of interest.

Facebook offers a Guide metadata feature for users who upload 360 photos and videos. There’s a lot to look at with panoramic content, and just as in real life, if you’re looking in one direction, you might miss something behind you. With Guide, you can mark points of interest in your content so your viewers know where to look and when.


  1. The Heatmap tool can show you hot spots in your video.

What parts of your 360 photo or video are your viewers looking at the most? Facebook’s Heatmap tool can show you the so-called hot spots in your content — the areas that viewers find the most interesting. Not only does this provide good feedback on your photos and videos, but it can help you edit your Guide points of interest based on viewer feedback.


See All Around You

If you haven’t uploaded any 360 content, give it a try soon! It’s still a very new feature, and because there aren’t a lot of 360 photos and videos on Facebook yet, yours will definitely stand out. Its popularity will be decided soon enough, but right now, 360 seems like an exciting new way to see and show environments, events, and performances.


Have you posted any 360 Facebook content yet? What did your followers think? We’d love it if you could tell us about it in the comments.