Virtual Reality Has Marketers Planning In Real Time

By now, everyone in the professional services industry understands the crucial need for social networking in the marketing mix. Businesses have embraced the idea and recognize the value of using social networks to communicate with target audiences. Now, the next big idea in marketing has arrived: virtual reality.

At the moment, virtual reality is most prominent in video gaming. Wearing a special headset grants users the opportunity to put themselves inside the game as a contestant, not just as someone controlling a character’s actions on the screen. But when Facebook bought a virtual reality company named Oculus Rift last year, it started a conversation about how companies can take advantage of virtual reality to boost brand recognition.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started the hype when he announced that he planned to make Oculus “a platform for many other experiences.” His ideas ranged from watching sports games, to participating in a virtual classroom course taught by anyone you desire. (How cool would it be to learn physics from Albert Einstein?)

The potential uses for Oculus Rift, however, reach far beyond entertainment. Some foresee this as a perfect platform for training nurses on the proper use of healthcare applications. Others believe it can be used to help treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Autism.

Doing any of these activities while wearing the Oculus Rift headset would allow users to feel as if they were physically at these events. In addition, they would be able to share what they’re seeing on social media. “Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures,” Zuckerberg said.

Still not convinced of this particular business utility? Envision how a customer might embrace a proposed building construction, a courtroom scene, or a real estate option if they could move within the action, not just hear it explained or see it in drawings.

No one thinks this will be available immediately, but when Google and Facebook first entered our consciousness, no one predicted how integrated they would become in our marketing and public relations decisions, nor how they would disrupt the communication marketplace. It was when people started experimenting with them that their potential was realized, and other platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) followed.

You don’t have to take advantage of every new digital offering, but you should be aware of the options and their potential. Better yet, start thinking about how they might create value for your business.

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