COVID-19 has shifted the marketing landscape. Behaviors acquired this year, largely connected with a more digital economy and communications landscape, are not just temporary but here to stay for the long run. Organizations across industries are adjusting accordingly, especially in regards to their social media marketing strategy.
Virtual tours applied the right way, can improve the online presence of organizations in a wide range of industries. In higher education, campus tours can help with student recruitment. Patients will appreciate a preview of the physical hospital space they’re about to visit. Hotels and attractions, meanwhile, can stand out among their competition for prospective tourists and travelers. All of these benefits only rise in importance with a shift to more digital culture and landscape.
And yet, they’re only the beginning. The effectiveness of virtual tours is not isolated to your website. Applied correctly, they can have an immense effect on your entire digital strategy, including social media.
Like so many other digital channels, social media has risen in popularity over the last few months. Instagram, for instance, reported a 70% increase in video views this summer. Across networks, engagement almost instantly increased by 10%. With social media marketing continuing to increase in importance, consider these 6 ways to integrate your virtual tours into your social strategy.
1) Build Visual Engagement Opportunities
Social media is, above all, a visual communications tool. Studies show again and again that even something as straightforward as including photos or videos dramatically increases user engagement. It’s especially true on networks like Instagram, which are built entirely on visuals.
That makes posting about your virtual tour a perfect fit for this medium. And, in fact, it can be that easy: simply share your tour on your preferred social media platforms at strategic times for your audience and within your content calendar.
Depending on the tour creator and platform you use, this might be easy or complex. Ideally, your virtual tour should have a ‘share’ button to spread the word.
2) Share Individual Tour Stops
Depending on the software, you can go beyond sharing the entire experience on social media as well. In fact, you can share individual tour stops and even individual media to your social media channels for more targeted reach and engagement on social media.
This is especially relevant for multi-entity organizations. For instance, your university’s business school may be more interested in sharing the tour stop featuring its stand-out building than the tour as a whole. Of course, even as the direct link points towards a single stop, the audience still gets exposed to the larger tour anytime they click on that link.
The same concept, though, remains valid for any type of organization. If nothing else, it expands your pool of content for potential posts. Given how frequently experts recommend posting on social media for maximum engagement, that extra content can become an important piece of your content calendar.
3) Post Condensed Videos of Your Tour
Of course, you can build more complex engagement opportunities than simply sharing your tour on social media. One option is to give your audience a preview of what, exactly, they can expect when they view and engage with it on your website.
Most virtual tours, of course, are built-in formats that are more complex (and interactive) than a simple video you could share directly on your social channels. But there’s a way around it.
For instance, consider using a simple screen recording tool that captures what you see on your screen. Then, record yourself moving through your virtual tour. You can now turn that recording into a preview video, whether it be through a time lapse that condenses its length and adds visual appeal or by showing only a stop or two.
With this technique, you get the engagement. Now, all you need to do is include a link to the full tour in the video captions, so those interested enough to learn more can easily do so. Just like that, you’ve created an internal engagement opportunity that still maximizes exposure for your full tour.
4) Leverage Social Media for Storytelling
Brand storytelling has become a buzzword in social media circles in recent circles, and for good reason. Research has shown that audiences who love a brand’s story become 55% more likely to buy from that brand, and 44% more likely to share its content.
Social media is a natural fit to tell your brand’s story in a humanized, personal way. Brands like Dove, Apple, and Airbnb have adjusted their social media marketing strategy accordingly, focusing on stories to drive awareness and persuasion.
Here’s a secret: your virtual tour can play a core role in taking a similar approach. After all, what is a well-built tour if not an opportunity to tell your story? By showcasing your physical space, you can:
- Talk about your organization’s history.
- Offer behind-the-scenes looks into your organization.
- Tell a product or service’s origin story.
That’s all true for your website, but it’s just as crucial on social media. In fact, as you promote your tour on your social channels, highlight these exact things in your captions or the exact content you’re sharing. That expands your storytelling beyond your website, bringing it to the medium in which your audience most looks for it.
5) Drive Conversations About Your Tour and Business
The opportunity for social interaction social media affords brands in reaching out to audiences. Virtual tours allow you to create a “hook” that drives these conversations and prompts your audience to interact with you.
You can create and prompt these conversations in a few different ways:
- Posting tour-related content under a general hashtag specific to your audience or industry.
- Ask your audience to share their own experiences for the physical spaces. For example, show a university’s student center that you’re showcasing on the tour.
- Prominently showcase your social media ‘share’ options for your audience, so they can create their own posts focused on the tour.
- Ask your audience for feedback on the type of content you should include in future iterations of the tour.
Of course, those are only some ideas to leverage your tours for engagement. Your virtual tour becomes a starter for a conversation that you can drive and manage. However, it’s just as dependent on your audience to keep going.
6) Connect Tour-Related Social Posts With Larger Contexts
Maps and navigation hologram on a mobile phone
Finally, social media marketing offers a prime opportunity to link your virtual tour into a larger context in which it becomes even more relevant. That sounds abstract, but can take a number of shapes depending on the contexts and events in which you (and your industry) typically communicate:
- Universities may want to highlight their tour as part of a larger communication plan.
- Hospitals may leverage their virtual tours as part of an open house or virtual open house. Thus, showcasing their facilities to a new level of the audience.
- Hotels may look to showcase their spaces as part of a larger event within the area in which they’re located.
- Event and conference spaces may look to link their tours into typical dates in which event organizers typically book facilities to increase their engagement.
The possibilities here once again range widely. We’ve seen organizations post their tours on social media as they were sending emails about the same topic, linked them together with other content related to the same context via hashtags, and more.
On social media, every piece of content works better if it gets connected to a larger web of engagement opportunities. The virtual tour, freed from its constraints as a web-only communications tool, can allow you to do just that.
How to Start Integrating Virtual Tours in Your Social Media Marketing
In short, regardless of how you look to connect your virtual tour to your social media marketing efforts, the benefits tend to be both mutual and exponential. Every link between the two helps you better engage your audience and increase brand awareness.
Social media benefits from virtual tours because they are the perfect type of content for its medium and algorithms. Virtual tours, meanwhile, benefit from social media to get the word out and increase audience attention. Together, they’re a power couple destined to push your digital marketing efforts forward.
Of course, it all depends on the effective integration of your virtual tour with your social media marketing strategy. That begins with finding a platform that makes this integration easy, through intuitive sharing opportunities and content. Contact us to learn more about our platform, and how we can help you optimize your virtual tours for just that purpose.