Facebook’s new 3D photos feature is a godsend.
I started using Facebook 3D photos hours after its launch. Engagement on my personal and professional pages has soared as the Facebook community reacts with a collective “How cool!” to my photos popping with astounding depth and clarity.
Facebook has given brands a powerful way to improve their visual storytelling game, and it has challenged community managers to become more creative and proficient with technology.
This new tool make it possible for viewers to scroll, pan and tilt to see photos in 3D. Viewers can enjoy the interactively without wearing 3D glasses, although they can level up to VR by using the Oculus Browser on Oculus Go or Firefox on Oculus Rift.
The feature works exclusively with photos taken in portrait mode on iPhone 7+, 8+, X, or XS, giving your business an advantage right out of the gate if you’ve already embraced the newer-generation iPhones for creating visual content on your socials.
In order to maximize the value of this feature for your business, I suggest following a few best practices:
Experiment, but choose your shots thoughtfully
Some photos work better than others for 3D. As Facebook suggested in its blog post, it’s best to capture scenes with multiple layers of depth, such as photos with people in the foreground and something visually arresting in the background.
So far, I’ve gotten more engagement from these types of photos, too—although close-ups do work if you’re going for a surreal, whimsical image. Here are some examples of how brands might use the feature:
- 3D can make retail more immersive: An automotive dealer can make its Mustangs and Challengers fly off their Facebook pages in 3D, and personal care retailers such as Sephora can apply 3D photos to uplift their customers using their products. Any retailer selling Halloween-themed merchandise should be using 3D photos to make its ghosts, monsters and superheroes pop. Give your customers a fresh look at your costumes, glowing pumpkins and other accoutrements.
- 3D is perfect for any type of event-based experience, such as haunted houses or theme parks: Disney could feature shots of families in the Magic Kingdom with Cinderella’s Castle in the background looking even more magical with a 3D effect, or promote its seasonal events such as Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Or a museum could surprise and delight its Facebook followers by giving a taste of its works in 3D. The Impressionism galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago come to mind, as well as the post-Impressionist works of Paul Gauguin.
But if you want to focus on the subject in the foreground—say, a shot of a celebrity appearing at your corporate event or a more straightforward photo of a new product feature—then the 3D effect could be distracting.
Moreover, going overboard with 3D could backfire. In the example of a museum rendering its art in 3D, a little goes a long way. Offering a glimpse of Gauguin’s Mahana No Atua with a 3D effect would be an interesting way for the Art Institute of Chicago to suggest how the great artist’s mind reimagined a Tahitian beach with pink sand. But a museum that bombarded its Facebook followers with 3D renderings of art would come across as gimmicky.
Using 3D photos makes you Facebook’s guinea pig for an evolving feature. The tool is imperfect: You’re not really delivering a complete 3D experience, but rather the suggestion of 3D with more depth and contrast. Depending on the composition of the photo, the images render imperfectly.
For example, one of my photos features a woman carrying a parasol, and the shaft of the parasol was rendered with a tiny gap in it. If you zoom on the image, you might notice that the parasol appears to be floating because of the existence of the gap. Also, some subjects can leave a blurry trail when you tilt your phone, and the edges of the frame might look too fuzzy.
Think of 3D photos as you would a beautiful mosaic: If you look closely enough, you’ll find imperfections. But don’t let those imperfections stop you from posting a breathtaking visual. Also, closely review Facebook’s tips for improving the quality of your images and keep a close watch as pros get more experience with the tool and offer in-depth advice.
The 3D photos feature is yet another example of how social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have rolled out tools that dramatically improve visual storytelling with video, photography, augmented reality and virtual reality. These features require your marketing team—especially your social media community managers—to get more creative and technologically proficient than ever before.
Community managers need to become better visual storytellers by learning on the job, getting specialty training and forging strong relationships with creative directors at their companies. A community manager who understands the art of telling a company’s story on social is in a perfect position to thrive with tools such as 3D photos. Now is the time to expand your visual vocabulary.