As a Digital Agency we are always looking for creative ways to drive traffic so when Google came out with their 360 degree business photos that allow visitors a virtual tour of our digital agency and we thought “Hey Now! What can we do to make this even more creative and engaging?” Then we started to have fun with it.
If you don’t know what Google’s new Business Photos are you can find out more here but basically they can provide businesses with the opportunity to create virtual tours so your customers can walk around, explore, and interact with your business like never before, just like being there! And not only do these images appear on Google searches, Google Maps, and Google+ Local, but you can easily embed your panoramic photos on your own website, social media pages, and more!
Let’s Get Creative
If you’ve ever used Google’s Street View technology and been surprised by the alien relaxing by the side of the road or the two-legged white cat casually strolling down the avenue, you know what kind of fun you might have now that the same technology is available for business use. And we decided that’s exactly what we were going to do.
First of all we had to hire a trusted Google photographer or agency. Then when we knew what date they were coming we staged our offices to provide puzzle’s, objects, images and other creative gimmicks. By carefully planning our virtual tour, we created something that feels more like a virtual reality game, than a boring photo shoot, and that will also add excitement to our social media campaigns. As a matter of fact, you can go to our Advice Interactive Group site and try our “Solve the Riddle” contest for a chance to win $100 dollars.
Strategies that Surprise and Engage Your Visitors
So how can you use this tool to help your own online engagement strategy? Well, there’s no doubt that some businesses rely on their ambiance to bring people through their doors. Restaurants, in particular, may want to create inviting spaces that sometimes even evoke the cultural heritage of the type of food that is served.
However, it’s not just restaurants that can create interesting environments to explore using a virtual tour in Google’s Inside-Business Photos pages. If you stretch the envelope a bit, you will realize that any business can create fascinating treasure hunts, visual shockers, and mysteries that engage online visitors and have them checking out your website and social networking pages again and again. Not to mention they will share them with their own social networks.
- Invite Visitors to Snoop – Doesn’t everyone who enters a new place want to snoop around? Well, online visitors are no different. If you have a labyrinth-like hallway, what could be put around the corner? Instead of the same old potted plant, why not include a treasure map laid out on a side desk in your virtual tour. The treasure hunt could be used as part of your next social marketing contest. Stepping into your business through Google’s Inside-Business Photos should be an interactive, fun, experience, not a stuffy museum tour.
- Have Them Catch the Employees Unaware – Even though Google prefers no people in the photo shoots, you can stretch that rule a little, too. An alien is certainly not a person and neither is that robot manning the receptionist area for Leo Laporte’s tech studio. In fact, you can have your employees dress up as characters to enhance your business advertising idea and startle visitors who happen to walk through your business online. Haven’t you ever wondered what the employees do in the copy room when they think you’re not looking?
- Shock and Awe Your Visitors – Shocking photos are one way to get people to share those awesome images with others in their friend networks. For instance, if you’re a surf shop, it wouldn’t be too unnerving or shocking to have a shark somewhere on the premises biting a surfboard in half. However, you might have gone way too far if that shark has chosen to chomp on a hunk of the nearest surfboard and surfer with fake blood sprayed all around.
- Exploit the Vistas – If your business is in an unusual locale, it’s time to highlight that. Whether it’s the thrill of looking out on a panoramic view of the Seattle skyline or relaxing under the waterfall in the terraced atrium, make sure to emphasize those “vacation spots” within your space where people can loiter and amuse themselves. Find the best seat in the house and let your visitors try it out, at least virtually.
- Make it a Game – Google’s Inside-Business Photos can blur the line between game and photo gallery, especially if you tie the photos into social networking games that rely on image clues scattered within the virtual tour of your business. Always create stories, as they are important for establishing the backdrop to engage an audience to play. For instance, you can claim that you received an unusual text message from an employee on your Facebook status update and, thus, set the stage for the start of a game. What on earth could they be doing at your place of business and why? Not only does this storyline provide you with a way to inject humor into the tour, but others are going to want to snoop around to see how the story resolves itself in the end.
Eye-Catching Google Business Photos
Google Business Photos allow potential customers, clients, or just the curious visitor more access and information about your business. With a 360-degree virtual tour of everything from cheese shops to design studios, companies are able to, quite literally, open themselves up to the public. To capitalize on this new opportunity, you’ll need to get a little creative.
Other Creative Ideas
Remember, your job doesn’t end with calling the photographer. Before they arrive for the shoot, you’ve got to alert staff, arrange each room to look its best, and maybe even stuff a dummy into a toilet. In fact, this is something of a trend with ad agencies and designers. ACME Studio in Brooklyn features a grimy looking donkey posing in the photo studio, while Nmédia Solutions went for a Canadian classic: hallway hockey. Google Business Photos is a chance for these creative businesses to show-off their chops.
But what about the rest of us? Is there room for Google Business Photo fun in non-design businesses? If you ask the ski shop Krakatoa, you’ll find out. Amongst their down jackets and sportswear an extreme sports biker is plummeting down shop stairs and parking lot skiing. Even Google’s own Business Photo case study page gives a more subtle hint. The dog food manufacturer Just For Dogs features a golden lab in the middle of their kitchen.
Introduce Your Staff
Aside from improving the way potential customers view your business, Google Business Photos are also a great way to bring staff and management together as a team. Solicit ideas from all staff – you might be surprised who comes up with a killer idea. Bring everyone together to dress up your work areas for the photos too. Teams could make a giant papier mache foot for a shoe store, dress up in gorilla costumes in the fruit aisle of a grocery store, or put on nerdy glasses and bow ties for your book store.
By default, Google Business Photos will also be visible via Google Maps, Google + Local, and standard Google search results. This can have a significant impact on clicks and organic search visitors because a result with beautiful panoramic views will always get more of a reaction than a result that is “text-only”.
Aside from these Google properties, you also retain full rights to the photos and can use them on your own website, Facebook page, or just about anywhere else that you want people to engage with your business.
A few photos of your business – sounds simple right? But Google Business Photos can be a powerful selling point for your company, and allow you to let the culture and character of your business and staff shine through.
So what are you waiting for? Get creative!