3 Ways You Can Use Virtual Reality to Boost Member Engagement in Your Facebook Groups
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Virtual reality used to be a staple of science fiction. But, now it’s a small but growing segment that big companies are jumping into. From video games to live concerts, virtual reality is changing the way that we look at the world, creating possibilities that could never have been envisioned before outside of books like Snow Crash or movies like The Matrix.
You might not have thought of using it as a business tool, though.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders are excited for the potential of VR -- In a personal blog post a few years ago, well-known entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk called the technology “a completely new game."
"VR is an incredible opportunity for all of us, a new frontier that many of us could never have imagined, even in our wildest dreams,” Vaynerchuk said. And he’s not the only one, as evidenced by the number of large companies that are starting to invest in the sector.
Virtual reality is an extraordinarily promising tool for business, even in its early stages of adoption. If you’re looking to boost engagement from your members in your Facebook Groups, VR could add that extra something you need to make your group pop.
1. Meet outside of meatspace.
Facebook’s Spaces platform is still in its early stages, as head of social VR Rachel Franklin npointed out to MIT Technology Review. There’s not a ton to do there as yet. But Facebook employees themselves are already holding some meetings through the platform rather than in meatspace (jargon for "the real world").
In fact, VR promises some great benefits for meetings, particularly with more introverted coworkers.
When Facebook conducted its own study on how VR worked as a meeting platform, it quickly became obvious that not only was virtual reality just as comfortable as a conversation in real life, for introverts it was actually more comfortable. Most introverts were more engaged using VR than talking in person -- though the opposite was true for extroverts.
Facebook’s study also found that when researchers checked EEG readings for those interacting via VR, subjects' readings held steady in the optimal range for both remembering and engaging in the conversation going on. These measurements were equivalent to real life in terms of the amount of engagement.
Considering, then, that it’s easy to be misunderstood through text or email, and that phone or video calls at times lack a certain element of interaction, why not try to meet through VR?
Putting together some meetings and group chats through VR could be a great way to engage members of your group who might never normally engage or meet. You can put these people at ease in an environment that caters to their needs more.
2. Create a virtual reality show.
I joined a VR-specific Facebook show group called "The Digital Drink" the other day, and it’s been a really interesting experience engaging in a VR show. When I touched base with the group’s founder Therin Miller, to find out what sort of growth he’s seen, the stats were surprising.
VR technology doesn’t have a very high penetration rate yet. With a global market size estimated by Statista to amount to only $3.3 billion, it’s not something that at this point you expect to see in every home or office. But even given the low penetration rate, it’s definitely getting results.
Miller’s group has seen explosive growth, he told me, perhaps due to his show being the first such VR event and podcast in its segment. According to stats he shared with me, since the group started in April, it’s grown to 865 members -- not bad considering that they started with zero.
Engagement numbers have also been excellent throughout; 87 percent of the members are active. The group is averaging 500 views and 500 comments per video, too.
Clearly, in this segment, with this audience, Miller’s Facebook Group is filling a hole. That might have something to do with itsentrepreneurial focus; the people who engage with the show are much more likely to be the type of people who would dig into VR at this stage of the game. It's focused to early adopters, after all. But the growth numbers Miller showed me were, and are, encouraging for the future of VR shows.
3. Promote VR content exclusively in the group.
Companies are starting to find VR-specific uses for the technology that Facebook is backing. YouTube is doing its own VR video segment now, showcasing an aspect of its platform that will only grow in the future.
I've touched on VR shows and meetings already, but its Venues functionality will be useful for all sorts of things in the future. 3D photos and video that can be viewed regularly or through a headset allow users to share walk-throughs of places that exist in the real world, or take a look at an object from all of its angles.
Why not share this content exclusively through your own Facebook Group?
Drive people from other platforms to one central location, and if you’re doing VR on several different pieces of content, you'll probably find that those who have adopted the technology already are more likely to engage with it -- merely because there isn't a ton of content out there yet. In that regard, you can get your foot in the door early.
Don’t underestimate the value of the new and unique …
The sky is the limit for VR, and we’re barely scratched the surface of what this technology can achieve. So, give it a try and see if you can’t drive up engagement for your Facebook Group.