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Facebook now lets you guide viewers around your 360-degree video

Facebook is building upon the success of its 360-degree video rollout — which has seen 250,000 360-degree clips uploaded to the social network since September — with a couple of new publishing and analytics tools for the format.

Chief among the social network’s new features is the ability to input a guided tour of your 360 clip. This basically allows creators to automatically direct viewers to the best points of action in the video. Consequently, the person watching the clip doesn’t have to click and drag the screen to seek out the best point of view.

To use the guide, simply select the option that states “this video was recorded in 360 degree format” when uploading your video. Now you will be able to use the new “360 Controls,” where you can select the “Enable Guide” box, which allows you to add points of interest throughout your clip.

Once you select the guide feature, it will be turned on by default for viewers, and your video will automatically pan around to the action spots you chose during the editing process. Viewers can opt out of the guided view by panning or swiping out of the scene to manually explore other parts of the 360-degree video. To return to the guide after navigating away from it, all you have to do is hit the small compass indicator located at the top right of the video display.

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A number of prominent publishers have already started using the guide feature on their 360-degree content, including GoPro, and ABC News.

The other new feature aimed at 360-degree video creators is Heatmap, an insights tool that helps users to discover the parts of their clip audiences find most interesting. Heatmap does this by creating a visual map of your video that displays its hottest parts. Facebook claims that it pulls this information from the aggregate data of its view ports, measuring every time a viewer moves 30 degrees within the frame of a clip.

Facebook 360 video heatmap

Facebook 360 video heatmap

Heatmap is currently only available for videos posted from May 1 that have reached more than 50,000 unique viewers. It can be accessed via your video library, under publishing tools.

“For publishers who opt to use Guide, the insights you glean from Heatmap may help inform how you select your points of interest in Guide,” states Paul Beddoe-Stephens, partnerships lead at Facebook 360.

Aside from the 360-degree video tools, Facebook is also launching a slew of new video metrics features. Publishers can now learn who watches their content on a minute-by-minute basis based on demographics such as age, gender, and top geographic locations.

Additionally, Facebook Live video is getting a new analytics tool which displays insights including the volume of reactions, comments, and shares throughout a real-time broadcast. Facebook states that 48 percent of video watch time on its platform occurs when viewers share a clip, which explains why it is also introducing new metrics related to minutes viewed from shares and cross-posts of a video.

“All kinds of publishers post video on Facebook to engage, inform, and entertain people,” states Anaid Gomez-Ortigoza, product manager at Facebook, in a blog post. “We’re always listening to feedback from publishers, and we’ve heard that they want to learn more about their audiences to help build their content and business strategies.”

The new analytics features will start rolling out today, and will be available to all Pages in the next couple of weeks.