As a designer, it can be difficult finding creative ways to break through the norms of traditional marketing tactics and collateral production. While we desire new opportunities and methods to create intriguing design for our clients’ audiences, channels and tactics are often already determined when a designer’s work begins.

But the evolution of social media has yielded new ways for compelling design to influence consumers and decision-makers. As more of our clients regard social media as a viable marketing component, designers are being presented with new avenues to showcase those brands.

About a year ago, Facebook introduced the ability to post 360° photo and video content — a unique and dynamic way to share experiences with friends. Users can capture and upload panoramic photos or video footage with a mobile device, or use special cameras to record all 360° of a scene simultaneously. When posted, the result is a cylindrical or spherical viewing experience that places the user at the center of the action. And they’re in control — by dragging the view around with their finger, moving their mobile device, or clicking and dragging on a laptop.

This innovative development allows people to share captivating views from places like the Grand Canyon, a sold-out concert, or a hot air balloon ride. Marketers soon realized that this progressive way to share content on Facebook could be adopted by brands to go beyond how individuals were utilizing the feature.

Quick backstory: 360° photos and videos look the way they do on Facebook because specific metadata is embedded within the files. Most devices embed this data automatically, and Facebook reads it when you upload your photos and videos.

Facebook recently embedded this metadata into special Photoshop templates — and savvy designers started capitalizing on this new technology.

Within my own Facebook feed, I began seeing two companies (Mazda and the NBA on TNT) posting unique 360° images — but they weren’t spectacular panoramic views of places, events, or celebrations. Instead, designers were using the templates to create illustrated and Photoshopped murals — bringing brand stories and information to life via futuristic, surround-style, digital billboards appearing in your daily news feed.

*Click on post to redirect to the Mazda Facebook page and experience the 360° graphic

Marketers and designers are pursuing Facebook 360° media because the content is interactive, immersive, and disruptive. Fans spend more time engaging with the brand, by discovering and exploring a message in a fun and memorable way. These interactive posts are easily identified within the news feed with an overlaying animated icon encouraging viewers to play around and experience every angle. (The icon disappears once you tap or click.) With so much clutter to swipe through in a Facebook feed, 360° media helps ensure that publishers and content creators have a greater chance of reaching their target audience.

*Click on post to redirect to the NBA on TNT Facebook page and experience the 360° graphic

The allure of the Mazda and NBA on TNT 360° graphics inspired me to dive in and learn how they were being created and what the process was — in hopes I could design one myself and present it to a client. The client wasn’t asking for it, and didn’t know it was an option. But I knew they had an existing social media plan, and with plenty of product launches and trade shows approaching, I saw it as a chance to break through the norms while still satisfying the client’s current initiatives.

After designing and testing the initial layout, I worked with our social media team to share the concept with the client through Facebook Business Manager. The client was thrilled with the impact and interactivity, agreeing to not only post it in the coming weeks but also work with us to develop more for their upcoming Facebook schedule.

*Click on post to redirect to the Danfoss Power Solutions Facebook page and experience the 360° graphic

Taking what I had learned and experimented with, I was able to share the process with other teams and designers at the agency. As a result, other clients are now interested in developing 360° graphics as well. And because it’s a design tactic that doesn’t require weeks of classes or online tutorials, it’s a very effective and efficient way to supplement and maximize a client’s social media plan.

Proactively bringing new ideas and methods to clients might begin with nothing more than pursuing your interest in something that catches your eye. But ultimately, it helps us as an agency, and our clients’ brands evolve to the nth degree.