In the digital age, gadgets are constantly evolving, and we can perhaps scarcely imagine what will be the next big tech must-have. Many of us still reminisce, though perhaps not fondly, over the Jurassic Era sounds of pre-broadband AOL, or our first brick cell phone, or dare I say, our first Walkman. The internet and portable technologies have undeniably come a long way in a short amount of time.
In 2016 we saw the explosion of real-time platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Instagram Stories as social media users and influencers sought ways to preserve authenticity in their online presence. With an ever increasing need for transparency, it is easy to predict what will be the next big thing for influencer marketing in 2017: real-time VR technologies.
Real-time platforms, augmented by VR and AR technologies. Think influencers directing real-time VR sessions where they virtually interact with followers (tag brands, answer questions, etc.) and put their worlds on display in a more authentic way. Sound far-fetched? Not at all. Facebook’s Oculus division acquired The Eye Tribe, the Denver airport has been testing Oculus goggles, and the NBA has announced a VR tour. Even the Royal Shakespeare Company is developing a VR theater experience. VR is blowing up and is about to change social media and thus the influencer game. Here is how:
Live VR sessions
Influencers engaging audiences via interactive displays.
Influencers will create virtual “viewing rooms” using VR filming techniques. It could be a minimalist studio, a cozy living room, a sleek kitchen, or any other private space tailored to the influencer and live-streamed in 360º. Viewers with VR headsets can virtually walk beside the influencer, getting a closer look and building a sense of connection to the influencer. Inspect their new Cole Haan boots, watch them sear seasoned ahi, and listen to their insights in real-time…from the same room, well, almost.
Real-time comments via dictation software or good ‘ol fashioned typing methods, will stream publicly, much like Facebook and Instagram Live. An influencer can see and respond to these comments and questions in real-time, while virtually standing beside you, creating incredible opportunity for personal engagement.
Influencers taking followers to festivals and events.
No more FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Audiences will be able to “travel with” influencers, surreally experiencing events through their eyes (and behind, and to the side….). New developments in VR filming will result in smaller cameras, easily concealed and mountable on stylish wearables like hats and headbands…Snapchat Spectacles 2.0? Karlie Kloss gave us a sneak peak in December, and we can’t wait to see who tries it next.
Live AR sessions
Hanging out with your favorite influencer.
When you want more than just a closer look at your influencer’s ice cream sundae, you can meet up with influencers in an AR hangout. With new AR technologies, influencers will be able to select small groups of followers (or fellow influencers) to participate in AR hangouts. Using a VR headset that tracks body movements and high-quality recorded sound, influencers and followers will design their own avatar, select a virtual setting (you can go as far away as the Milky Way!), and be able to sit and “personally” engage with one another. Vtime has started this AR hangout technology, a spin off of the VR world created by Second Life in 2003. You can bet tech gurus and gamers will be the first to adopt these virtual hangs.
The rise of real-time streaming has left followers wanting more, because let’s face it, the FOMO is real. We watch enviable influencers and celebrities post behind-the-scenes and catch up with the beloved antics of far-away friends through platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, but it’s not enough. Nothing beats a real face-to-face connection, but VR technologies fused with real-time transparency are about to take us one step closer. Virtual reality is more than just a phase, it is the next social media staple.