Influencers, Streaming, and Virtual Reality: Speculations on a Promising Future
With marketers excited about influencers and tech-lovers excited about VR, it is fitting to speculate just how these giants will interact with one another. From funny reaction videos on YouTube to high-end gaming, VR seems like the perfect match for the streaming-generation. With both industries rapidly growing and transforming, just how they will interact is still far from being fully discovered, but forward-thinking marketers should be paying close attention to this potentially lucrative connection.
On top of all the usual joys of watching compelling influencers, seeing streamers play VR adds extra captivating elements. Most VR videos split their screens in two so that audiences can not only watch influencers’ VR experiences but enjoy their reactions to it too. That is what makes viewing so enjoyable. Look no further than the reaction videos to the terrifying game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s”. The game has a simple, yet scary, survival concept, which can simultaneously terrify audiences while making them laugh at the players’ reactions.
In addition, for the vast swathes of the public with a passion for virtual reality, but without the deep pockets required to purchase the requisite hardware, watching streamers provides the perfect solution. This in turn, helps to keep audiences interested in virtual reality. As adspree has previously written about, maintaining this intrigue is vital to the continuing development of high-end VR tech.
VR influencers will also face a unique set of challenges. Especially in the gaming industry where audiences favour long, drawn-out streams, something that is already raising health concerns for traditional gaming streamers. With VR, marathon streams are strongly discouraged; the immersive sensory nature of VR gameplay means that it can be exhausting to play even for short periods. VR players that look after their health must regulate their stream-time and take regular breaks, even if that’s contrary to their followers’ desires.
Of course, there are plenty of ‘VR influencers’ that do not personally stream. Onalytica has drawn up a list of one hundred VR influencers to follow in order to keep-up with the industry. This includes people such as Sanem Avcil, who despite only tweeting once or twice per month, has amassed a following of sixty-two thousand.
These are the ways in which VR is already interacting with influencers, but with the astronomical rise of real-time platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, and Twitch, it is fair to dream bigger. There are many more imaginative ways that the industries will combine, that are more creative than just sharing videos and social media, some of which have already been experimented with.
AR and VR hangouts will soon create much more immersive methods of influencer interaction. One of the appeals of closely following influencers is the sense of friendship it provides. The more interactive the experience, the more enjoyable it will be for followers. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that new VR games will offer customisable play areas in which audiences can join their favourite influencers. Influencers will be able to create virtual viewing rooms in any private space which can be streamed in 360 for audiences to share. This will create an enhanced connection for their followers, by providing the sensation of really being there.
Virtual Reality in Action. Credit: Maurizio Pesce
Vtime, a spin-off of the now-infamous Second Life game has already paved the way in AR hangout technology with its ‘VR Social Network’. Outside of the gaming sphere, travel vloggers could use VR technology to essential bring VR-using audiences along as travel partners; audiences can explore the world with them without splashing out on tickets or exposing themselves to the risks of travel. Similarly, pop-culture influencers can bring their followers to exclusive parties, festivals and events that they could otherwise only dream of.
If virtually exploring North Korea or going partying with the Kardashians is not for you, fear not, these are just examples of VR niches. Influencers in every sub-culture will have their own unique ways to provide deeper levels of immersion and give their followers the heightened feeling of being present. While at this stage, only so much is known with certainty, for VR developers, marketers, and influencers themselves, putting some time aside to think about the relationship between VR and influencer marketing can be nothing short of a sage idea. Watch this space; real-time VR could very well be the next big thing in influencer marketing.