If a traditional photo is worth one thousand words, a 360-degree photo is worth ten thousand because people will do more than just look at it — they will interact with a 360 photo. They will move about in the photo trying to get a sense of a place.
Tweet This: If a traditional photo is worth one thousand words, a 360 degree photo is worth ten thousand because they will interact with a 360 photo.
A Google Streetview car parked in central London whilst out photographing the streets during a busy… [+]
Most people are looking for business hours when they search for a business on Google. In a study from 2014, Google revealed that it was trying to understand what attributes of a business listing were the most noticed. They found that Business Hours, followed by Photos and Reviews were what consumers noticed most often. If you are interested in Google My Business tips, read: How To Claim And Profit From Your ‘Google My Business’ Listing.
I have taken my fair share of 360 photos for business owners and I see the data on Google Maps because I am a “Trusted Professional” in the Google Streetview For-Hire program. I only mention this because it gives me a glimpse into how popular these interactive photos are, for consumers, and for fellow business owners looking at how successful other profiles are that contain this type of photo. The good news you do not need that specialized, expensive 360 degree camera on top of the colorful Google Streetview car (in above photo).
How To Get Started Taking 360 Photos With Your Smartphone (iPhone or Android)
So, you want to take a 360 photo for your business listing on Google, but you do not want to spend a few hundred on a pro photographer or on a specialized 360 camera (although they are not very expensive). You likely already have the ability to take a 360 photo (sometimes called Photo Spheres) with your smartphone using the Google Streetview App (free to download). Here’s the link to the iPhone version of Streetview.
Google Streetview 360 Photo app photo by TJ McCue
The Streetview App (screenshot from tutorial above) will guide you through the process by having you take numerous slightly-overlapping photos (with your smartphone camera) and then the software stitches it all together for you, into a complete 360 image. You can then upload that photo to your own Google My Business listing or on a Facebook page to give your customers a detailed look at the inside and outside of your business location and facilities.
Tweet This: With a regular Android smartphone or iPhone, and the Google Streetview app, you can make your own 360 Photos.
To be clear, you don’t have to do this for business purposes. People are capturing 360 images all around the world and sharing them for fun. The Streetview app allows you to keep the photo on your device and you can then upload it to other services or sites.
Planet modern city.360-degree panorama of the round of the Shanghai skyline
Here’s one I did (out of several) of a little coffee shop, Tierra Mia Coffee, in Montebello, California, that has landed them over 20,000 views. I normally do these type of photos for a fee, but I was just getting used to the new Samsung Gear 360 camera that I purchased and did a bunch in those first weeks pro bono to help small shop owners.
Here’s one from Classic Cycle on Bainbridge Island (just a ferry ride away from Seattle) that has received 15,000-plus views. Are these images a make-or-break proposition for these shop owners? No, but they definitely drive a lot more web traffic and interest via Google Maps and then actual visits to a location.
Here’s how simple it is — the Google Streetwise instructions:
Create photos with a phone
There is an easy to follow process with Streetview guiding you through the ideal overlapping photos with a simple centering tool — you move around and line up an orange dot inside a larger circle and as you turn, it pops up another orange dot. Keep aligning it as you move around the sphere and you’ll stitch together enough photos to complete your 360 image.
If you get stuck, they have tons of help files. If you absolutely do not want to do it yourself, just search for Google’s Trusted Pro list of Streetview Photographers for your area. You can take those same Streetview 360 photos and import them to Make a 360 Photo For Your Facebook Page, too. It doesn’t have to be for business, either, you can just do it for fun while traveling and upload to a specific Google Maps location or a Facebook profile. The Google Local Guide program rewards people with perks simply for sharing 360 photo spheres (as well as traditional photos, reviews, details about a place, and so forth).
A subsequent 2015 study by Google (and granted, they are a bit biased, but they are hiring independent research firms) found that “Listings with photos and a virtual tour are TWICE as likely to generate interest” by consumers and likely result in a visit or call.
I have found the Google study data to be true — customers, web searching consumers, engage with these photos. They definitely interact with a 360 photo to move around and see if it is a business they want to visit. It doesn’t take long to create a 360 photo; the Streetview app makes it easy and fast. Give it a try and send me a link with your final results.