10+ Ways to Use 360 Virtual Tours for Museums and Nature Reserves
With the pandemic nearly over but social distancing and the new normal still factoring into many organizations, many of you may be questioning how this change in behavior might affect your long-term business goals and fundraising capabilities. If you're wondering how to reach them, a fully immersive 360 Virtual Tour may be the answer. Read on to find out how "Virtual and Augmented Reality" can not only bring visitors through your doors--both virtually and literally--but can also be used to:
Educate - Virtual tours are a great way to take a deep dive into subject matter that only your organization can provide and can be used for educational programs in the classroom and on-site or remote meetings with your members and local officials.
Advertise - Virtual tours are an excellent eye catching tool that engages viewers to help explain your organization's role and importance in the community or industry.
Advocate - Are you trying to change the world? Or at least help your community? Non-profits utilize advocacy advertising to increase awareness for a specific cause or social justice issue instead of selling something.* Help your organization's advocates and influencers spread your message and mission by giving them an immersive experience to share with others and help promote your organization.
Fundraise - Specific messaging with links to a "Donations Landing Page" can even help in fundraising.
With those potential benefits in mind, consider the following ways to help promote your organization in these chaotic and unpredictable times:
Tip #1 - Take visitors on trips they couldn't otherwise take - With people keeping their distance and avoiding crowds, now may be the best time to reach out to potential visitors by opening your tour grounds or museum up to older and disabled visitors by using VR technology on their mobile and laptop devices. Our tours also work great in VR headsets. Hospitals have been stepping into the Virtual Field Trip arena to allow people with hospital anxiety to get familiar with the environment before they arrive. Zoos also have been using this technology to allow sick children to view the animals from home. Read more here! We can even help get your tour on Google! See how Google is using virtual tours to promote the arts with its new Arts and Culture app.
Tip #2 - Show potential visitors what they're missing - While we all want actual visitors to come to our locations, sometimes it's just not possible. Give visitors the option of seeing what you have to offer from the comfort of their own homes or even the parking lot if you're short staffed or forced to close your doors. This is also a great option during the off-season and on bad weather days. But make sure to keep your online visitors up-to-date and encourage them to come in and visit your place in person when things settle down!
Read how real estate has been using Virtual Tours to help sell homes!
Tip #3 - Show potential donors what you're building - Do you have a special project coming up and want to let people know? Consider using a series of text messages showing a narrated "walk-through" video or "virtual 360 tour" to show potential donors exactly how their contributions will help. We can even add video clips, photos, and aerial footage if needed. And with a little forethought, when the job is done, we can even create a Before-and-After virtual tour that shows how far you've come and how all the updates will benefit new visitors. And remember to thank your donors for their support by sending a link to the finished project when you're done.
Make sure to disable audio or turn down your volume if you're at work! Or click on the icon in the top right to mute.
Tip #4 - Educate your visitors with a Digital Field Guide - One of the best ways to use virtual technology is to create a "Digital Field Guide" with photo galleries and descriptive text to show them various areas of your preserve where native flora and fauna reside--even if they're not gorwing there when they arrive. The field guide allows viewers to get in-depth knowledge of the different animals and plants in their surroundings, or in the case of museums, detailed highlights of your displays. This is a great way to show visitors things they might not get to see during their visit--depending on the time of year.
Tip #5 - Let students in Elementary and High School classes take a Virtual Field Trip from home - Allowing teachers to show students different ecosystems, environments, plants, and animals at your location is a game-changer. Not only are they getting an updated look at these areas, but they also have the ability to take control in their own hands and choose their own storyline. See some examples here. Our process creates SCORM (or Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compliant virtual tours similar to how the DVD standard makes sure that all DVDs will play in all DVD players. This means teachers can add and integrate your virtual tours into SCORM compliant online courses and MOOCs.
Tip #6 - Use tours to help with fundraising with links to Donation pages - Encourage viewers to become donors by adding links to your donations page throughout the tour. Then promote "social sharing" so they can advocate for your natural area's protection and your organization's continued funding needs. Create a link to a special page on your website for that specific reason, and give them options to a variety of causes.
Tip #7 - Let viewers explore your land with YouTube video links - Adding 360 videos, aerial footage, testimonials, and photo galleries to a 360 tour allows you to show viewers scenes that they might not even see on a walk-through visit. You can even repurpose existing videos on your own YouTube channel!
Tip #8 - Upload your 360 Video to YouTube or Facebook - Both social media platforms allow viewers to experience full 360 video and are GREAT ways to promote and attract visitors to lead them back to your website.
Tip #9 - Use those same 360 photos on Facebook- Consider creating "animated GIFs" for Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach the younger crowd on those platforms with a more diverse audience. This allows them to get a sneak peek into the Virtual Tour without quite clicking on the video or website.
Tip #10 - Re-Use the individual 360 photos - You can even re-use the panoramas we create on dedicated web pages for particular projects or initiatives that need visual support. We can show you ways to embed these photos and even full tours on your own website to keep people focused on what you have to say.
BONUS TIP - Did we say 10? Gamify your virtual tour with interactive quizzes, videos, timers, sound FX, and hidden objects to draw visitors in for a truly interactive experience. This tour we produced for the Chippewa County Stand Against Meth Initiative had some of the highest engagement for any post they had on Facebook. How much fun could your visitors have with that approach?
These are just ELEVEN ways we can help--and we can probably think of a dozen more. Please note that they are NOT mutually exclusive. Re-purposing the digital assets we can create to use in other creative projects has been a mantra at The Post House for many years. Just ask about how we can help you save money with our Batch and Release web video campaigns or video/virtual tour combo packages!
We hope you find these tips useful. Combined with our free social media marketing tips you’ll be able to get interested prospects the information they’re looking for...and reach more customers and supporters. If you need help deciding which of these would best suit your needs, please give us a call. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 715 858 0454.
About the author: Don Byrne is an award-winning producer and cinematographer with over 30 years of experience in video production and photography and a lifelong passion for protecting the environment. His company, The Post House, is a boutique video and 360 virtual tour production company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Post House is one of only a select few companies in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest offering a full range of professional video production AND 360 Photography/Virtual Tour production services. In 2019, they were awarded the "Best Video Production Company" in Volume One's Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll. They were awarded a Gold Award of Excellence from The Communicator Awards for their Chippewa Valley Museum tour in 2022 and for The Ridges Sanctuary | Mobile version in 2019.