It has been a couple of years since the world’s most popular social network rolled out a neat feature that only a certain subset of users were able to take advantage of. Facebook released 3D photos in 2018, but they were initially limited to high-end smartphones such as the iPhone 7, which was at the top of the Apple mobile device totem pole at the time. Later, the social network expanded 3D photos beyond iOS to the Android operating system, but only for devices with dual camera systems, meaning front and back lenses. In 2020, just a few weeks before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook announced that 3D photos were now possible even in devices equipped with a single camera lens.
The most recent expansion of 3D photos is quite interesting because of its underlying technology, which involves a simulation conducted by artificial intelligence, namely a machine learning construct. With the current version of 3D photos, Facebook users can achieve a 3D visual format for just about any image, and it is not limited to photos captured with a smartphone camera; it will even work in old photographs originally taken with analog cameras, printed, and later scanned into a digital format.
Tech sector analysts who follow Facebook are not surprised by the 3D photos development; after all, the company has shown a clear affinity towards sophisticated digital imaging and visuals with its acquisition of the Oculus Rift virtual reality technology a few years ago. It is clear to assume that Facebook plans to get into next-generation gaming and immersive videos, but we should not forget that marketing and advertising will always be at the heart of every business decision made by this billionaire company.
Why 3D Photos Matter to Business Marketing
Facebook has a vested interest in offering tools that make advertisers stand out, and we are not just talking about businesses that pay directly for post placement, suggestions, or sponsored content; any Facebook company page with followers should be considered to be an advertiser. According to statistics from 2018, more than 6 million active advertisers are vying for the attention of 1.4 billion daily active users on Facebook, and this competition unfolds on the News Feed.
As tempting as it might be to dismiss three-dimensional photos as being gimmicky, the reality of this new Facebook feature is that it is fun and certainly has great potential to boost the visibility of a post, and this is the marketing bottom line of 3D photos. If you have not seen 3D photos on your News Feed, here’s how they work: As you scroll down on your Facebook mobile app and come across an update with a 3D photo, you will notice that the image looks more alive. Once you pan and tilt your smartphone or tablet, the 3D effect will be more noticeable.
With 3D photos, you have an opportunity to not only get the attention of followers but also entice them to learn more about the image. Take a look at this company’s Facebook page, which is for an online jewelry marketplace; you will notice that a few updates are 3D photos of diamond engagement rings that simply look great when you move your smartphone around. For an even more impressive 3D effect, you can don a VR headset or use the Oculus browser.
A diamond ring is just one example of items that are perfectly suited for Facebook 3D photos. To a great extent, these photos are similar to the 3D web objects that some online retailers have been using for years to sell electronics, cars, and quite a few other consumer goods; the difference is that the technology is far more accessible even if it is not a true three-dimensional experience. We should not forget that the machine learning algorithm developed by Facebook will continue to become smarter as more photos are taken, which means that the simulation is bound to get more lifelike in the future.
Marketing strategies that incorporate 3D imaging do not have to be limited to retailers or wholesalers of retail items. Service providers such as airlines and tour operators, for example, can post 3D photos of spectacular sunsets in the destinations where they travel to. Needless to say, real estate agents, interior decorators, and architects can also call attention to the services they offer with 3D images. Finally, and in the near future, we may even see 3D video clips not only on Facebook but also other social media platforms.