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Small business owners are required to collect, report and remit FICA taxes to the IRS. If they don’t, the business owner may face penalties and fines.
The FICA tax comprises Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits.
Outside of increases due to inflation, FICA taxes don’t change much, which means small business owners can set it and forget it.
This article is for small business owners wanting to learn more about the FICA tax and how to calculate it.
Paying taxes is a key responsibility of owning a business. While business owners need to be aware of several types of taxes, the biggest one is the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. FICA taxes are paid by both employers and employees to cover Social Security and Medicare. Since this is such an important payroll tax, business owners need to know what exactly these taxes entail, how to calculate them and when to pay them.What is FICA?
FICA is the federal income tax that business owners are required to pay on their employees’ behalf. They do that by withholding 10% to 37% of pay from workers’ paychecks. The employee’s income and filing status will determine how much the IRS gets in federal income taxes. In addition to the money they withhold from employee paychecks, employers are responsible for paying their own share of the tax.
FICA comprises three taxes: Social Security tax, Medicare tax (with an additional tax for high-income employees), and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax.
Social Security tax: The Social Security tax, which is 12.4% of income, is split between the employee and employer. Business owners are required to withhold 6.2% from employees’ paychecks and match the remaining 6.2%. As of 2023, a maximum of $142,800 can be taxed to cover Social Security. This means that those who make more than that are only taxed for Social Security on the initial $142,800, not on anything more than that.
Medicare tax: The Medicare tax is 2.9%, which is also split between the employee and employer. The employer withholds 1.45% of their employees’ wages and pays 1.45%. There is no limit on the income that can be taxed for Medicare.
Additional Medicare tax: There is an additional 0.9% tax for high-income earners – those who make over $200,000 as a single filer, $250,000 as a married person filing jointly, or $125,000 as a married person filing separately. There is no employer match for this added tax.
FUTA: The Federal Unemployment Tax Act was created to fund the nation’s unemployment benefit programs. Employers are required to pay 6% of the first $7,000 of workers’ wages. Businesses that pay this tax fully and on time receive a 5.4% credit, which lowers their FUTA tax responsibility to 0.6%.Breakdown of FICA taxes
Type of taxSocial Security taxMedicare taxAdditional Medicare taxFUTA taxPercentage of income12.4%2.9%0.9%6% of the first $7,000 of workers’ wagesWho pays?Employee and employerEmployee and employer
Married employees who make over $125,000 and are filing separately
Single employees who make over $200,000
Married employees who make over $250,000 and are filing jointly
EmployerRequired withholding from employees’ paychecks6.2%1.45%N/AN/ARequired employer match6.2%1.45%N/AN/AMaximum taxable income$142,800No limitNo limit$7,000
FICA’s three components are Social Security, Medicare and FUTA taxes. Employers and employees split the bill for the Social Security and Medicare portion of FICA, and high-income employees pay an additional Medicare tax.What payments are not subject to FICA taxes, and who is exempt?
FICA doesn’t apply to all wages. These are some types of compensation that are not subject to FICA taxes:
Wages paid after an employee dies
Wages paid to disabled employees after they begin collecting Social Security disability insurance benefits
Expense reimbursements on mileage
Employer retirement contributions
Did You Know?
While most employees must pay FICA taxes, there are some exceptions. Employees who have worked for the government since 1984, as well as some state workers, may not have to pay FICA taxes.How is FICA calculated?
Calculating FICA tax contributions of an employee and employer is straightforward. You multiply the employee’s gross pay by the tax rates for Social Security and Medicare. If your employee earned $1,000 this week and is required to contribute 6.2% to Social Security and 1.45% to Medicare, it would amount to $76.50. The employer would pay the other half plus FUTA.
Calculating the FICA tax can get cumbersome if you have tens or hundreds of employees. The good news is that the best payroll software, CPAs, and payroll services calculate it for you.
“Once you establish a payroll policy and have it up and running, it’s rare for a small business to run into trouble with FICA taxes,” said Mike Slack, manager of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. “The only thing that changes yearly with FICA is the maximum wage limit for Social Security.”How do self-employed people calculate FICA taxes?
Those who are self-employed or independent contractors are required to pay both the employer and employee Social Security, Medicare, and Medicare surtax, which is known as the self-employed tax. For 2023, self-employed workers and independent contractors pay a total of 15.3% in FICA taxes.
The Medicare surtax applies to single filers earning more than $200,000 per year and married couples earning at least $250,000 who are filing jointly. Small business owners pay this tax at the end of the year when they file their income tax returns. The IRS allows self-employed workers to claim 50% of the self-employment taxes paid as a deduction on their federal income taxes for the year.
Individuals registered as a sole proprietorship, LLC or partnership are on the hook for the self-employment tax. If you report your business taxes on Schedule C when filing your personal tax returns, you have to pay the self-employment tax.
Self-employed people have federal income taxes too, but it’s called the self-employed tax. It covers Social Security, Medicare, and the Medicare surtax if it applies.Are FICA withholdings mandatory?
The Federal Insurance Contributions Act is the federal law that requires employers to withhold Social Security, Medicare and FUTA taxes from employees’ wages. It is mandatory and ultimately the employer’s responsibility. Small business owners who fail to collect, report, or remit payroll taxes to the IRS face penalties and interest on the money they owe.
Small business owners may also face penalties if they misclassify workers as independent contractors. Under FICA rules, you don’t have to pay taxes on independent contractors, but if the IRS finds that your “independent contractors” should be treated as full-time workers, you could be in trouble.
“The employer is the ultimate party responsible for FICA taxes,” Slack said. “Let’s say the corporation does not deposit those taxes over a certain period of time – the IRS can fine the owner.”
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Quibi is yet another video-streaming service founded by a titan of the entertainment industry. Jeffrey Katzenberg has some serious Hollywood clout as chairman of Disney during its animation renaissance and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. While Katzenberg certainly has the credentials, how does Quibi hope to differentiate itself in an already over-crowded field? Read on to find out what Quibi is all about and whether or not you should subscribe.What Does Quibi Even Mean?
Quibi stands for “quick bites” and doubles as the ethos of the entire platform. Quibi is hoping to pioneer a new way of consuming television. All of the content on Quibi will take the form of short, episodic TV and movies divided into “chapters.” This means that viewers can watch an episode from start to finish in five to ten minutes.
The idea stems from the fact that most people have periodic downtime in their day. Whether that’s on their daily commute to work or while they’re putting together something for dinner, Quibi hopes to fill these gaps in our day with content. Because Quibi is designed to be watched in moments of spontaneity, Quibi is only available on mobile devices.What Kind of Content Will Quibi Have?
Quibi isn’t going to simply chop up existing TV shows into more manageable run times. Instead, Quibi is investing heavily into original content made specifically for this new format. With approximately $1.75 billion to play with, Quibi is courting big name stars and creative talent to develop their shows. With that sort of cash, Quibi is aiming to cover all of the bases.
Are cooking shows your thing? How about immersive prestige dramas? Are you a reality junkie? Do you love to laugh? What about being scared senseless? Quibi is aiming to scratch virtually every entertainment itch you can imagine.
Furthermore, Quibi will also feature non-scripted content such as documentaries and shows dedicated to news and popular culture. At launch, Quibi will be home to approximately 50 different shows, but expect that number to increase as time goes on.
One of the most interesting facets of Quibi is its unique approach to the way we hold our devices. Quibi employs “Turnstyle,” a sort of pan-and-scan technique that seamlessly makes the best use of your screen real estate, whether you’re holding it in landscape or portrait.Criticisms of Quibi
Despite being only a few days old, Quibi already has its critics. The biggest complaint about the new streaming service seems to be the fact that Quibi is available exclusively for mobile devices. Because of this, Quibi is not available on TVs in any way, shape or form. There is no Quibi app available for Android TV or other smart TV platforms. Additionally, there are no apps for the Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Roku, game consoles or other streaming boxes. Furthermore, Quibi does not support Chromecast or AirPlay, so you can forget about casting your Quibi shows to your TV.Quibi Pricing Structure
Unlike other short-form video platforms like YouTube and TikTok, Quibi is a premium service. This means that there is no free option, so if you want to watch, you’re going to have to pony up those credit card details. That being said, Quibi is a bit cheaper than the competition. Quibi subscribers have a choice of two pricing tiers.
The base option is $4.99 per month; however, you’re going to have to sit through the occasional ad. Alternatively, you can opt for the premium tier which will run you $7.99 per month. These prices aren’t exactly cheap, and the folks at Quibi seem to recognize that. Because of this, Quibi is offering a 90-day free trial in the hopes of getting you hooked. But be quick – the 90-day free trial expires at the end of April.How Do I Get Quibi?
As we mentioned earlier, Quibi has been designed exclusively for mobile devices, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. For better or worse, this means that everything Quibi has to offer is going to be delivered to you solely through the screen of your phone.
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Most women have probably cursed their pain-inflicting uteruses at least once in their menstrual histories. But an increasing number of women who don’t have them—either because they were born without or had them previously removed—are going to great lengths to obtain new ones. In mid-January, the Associated Press reported that nine Swedish women received transplanted uteruses in a series of procedures conducted by a team from the University of Gothenburg. This was the third group of researchers to attempt a uterus transplant with the end result of a successful and full-term pregnancy, and many teams around the world are racing to be the first to succeed, despite skepticism and ethical concerns.
To be candidates for the procedure, women had to be of childbearing age (mostly in their 30s) and not have a uterus. This transplant is designed to be only temporary, though; the idea is that the women will become pregnant, have one or two children, and then have the uterus removed. This is because, after the operation, the women have to take anti-rejection drugs, which suppress the immune system and make them more vulnerable to diseases and infections, according to Mats Brännström, the Swedish team leader. These drugs do cross the placenta in “negligible” quantities and could affect the developing fetus, said Doris Ramirez Nessetti, a gynecologist at the AllCare Medical Center in Venice, Florida. Cyclosporine, one of the most common immunosuppressant drugs, has been shown to negatively impact fetuses in animal trials but no controlled studies have been conducted to see if it works the same in humans, she said.
In the recent transplants in Sweden, the uteruses came from live donors, often the patient’s mother or close relative, in order to reduce the risk that the woman’s immune system would attack and reject it. There’s no age cut-off for donors; they just have to have a healthy uterus. The surgeons remove the uterus, tie up the fallopian tubes and blood vessels left behind, and stitch her back up.
It’s the transplant surgery that is the hard part, and it’s particularly complicated. “It’s a new kind of procedure,” Brännström said. “Not only does the organ have to work and survive, but it’s also going to expand a lot during the pregnancy, and there are many other demands on the organ.” The uterus also comes with many small blood vessels and must be placed in a particularly difficult and “inaccessible” part of the body, he noted.
For some of the women, the transplant will bring many firsts. The women born without uteruses will have their periods for the first time. All women experience the hormonal fluctuations that regulate menstrual cycles since puberty, Brännström said, but for a woman without a uterus, there was never any period to induce. Unlike in a typical menstrual cycle, the ovaries won’t release an unfertilized egg into the uterus during those periods because the fallopian tubes are not connected. Instead, a fertilized egg must be placed into the uterus (IVF) for the woman to become pregnant.
Doctors consider most organ transplants to be successful if the organ works properly in the host’s body. But for a uterus transplant, success is defined more narrowly: not only does the uterus have to work, but the woman has to give birth to a healthy baby. That means the Swedish team won’t be able to determine success rates for two or three years. It’s because of this narrow window for success that all previous attempts to transplant uteruses have failed: a Saudi woman who had the surgery in 2000 had to have the transplanted uterus removed several years later due to circulatory complications, and a Turkish woman who got the transplant in 2011 from a deceased donor got pregnant, but then miscarried after eight weeks.
But some experts are concerned about the ethics behind the current stage of uterus transplants. To some, not enough animal tests have yielded live young to show that it’s time to try it out on humans. Florida’s Ramirez Nessetti has conducted similar transplants on sheep. “[Although] there is not a standard guideline on the amount of animal transplants to move to human,” she said, she believes that Brännström and his team jumped the gun on trying their experiment with humans. After multiple trials with sheep, she and her colleagues plan to perform transplants on apes, which have more biological similarities to humans, before moving to human subjects.
While Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University, agreed that more animal studies are necessary before the surgery can be brought to the United States, he’s more concerned that the competition to see which research team can bring about the first baby may negatively impact the science behind it. “The race…is creating a moral issue since reproduction is involved and safety ought to be the primary concern,” Caplan said. Additionally, the attempts and outcomes of uterus transplants have not been well-tracked internationally or published regularly, Caplan said, so it’s hard for researchers to build on each other’s work; Brännström and his team have yet to publish a paper, although they plan to do so in the near future. “Reporting clinical innovation through the media rather than at peer-reviewed professional meetings or in peer-reviewed journals is a deeply troubling way to launch any clinical innovation, especially with a procedure as risky and as controversial as uterine transplants,” Caplan wrote in the November 2012 edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Because not enough studies have been conducted, gynecologists wouldn’t know how to deal with the huge variety of issues that can arise in pregnancies under much more normal conditions, said Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN based in San Francisco. She expressed concern about complications ranging from the effect of mild organ rejection on the fetus to what can happen to the placenta, which could put the life of both mother and baby at risk. “I do think there are many unanswered safety questions and that is a concern for me,” she said.
“The issue becomes what risks to fetus and mother are justifiable in order to carry a pregnancy,” Caplan said. “The risk/benefit ratio is a very close call.”
After all this, why not use a surrogate mother, who would carry and deliver a child for another woman? In Europe and the Middle East (and in some US states), surrogacy is illegal, which changes the stakes. “It’s not a coincidence that [the first attempts at a transplant were] conducted in Islamic countries,” Brännström said. “It’s very important for a woman to become a mother, so surrogacy and adoption would not be approved by Islamic convention.”
Even in places where surrogacy is legal, Caplan said, women just might not want to “deal with” a surrogate and all the uncertainties that come with it, such as legal issues, birth complications and the health of the fetus during gestation. “There are also some who seek a more natural reproductive experience,” he said.
Cost would also be a factor. Since uterus transplants are not yet offered to the general public (and may not be for some time), there’s no way to know if insurance will cover the procedure. However, since the operation is voluntary and insurance doesn’t currently cover the use of other fertility treatments such as IVF, insurance companies aren’t likely to pay for uterus transplants. On the other hand, surrogacy can be expensive, depending on the type of surrogacy. If the surrogate is not a family member, compensation could range from $10,000 to $30,000, not including doctors’ appointments and vitamins.
In the end, the deciding factor in whether to get a transplant may come down to the hard-to-control, deep-seated emotions attached to a specific kind of motherhood where a baby grows inside its mother, who nurtures it before bringing it into the world.
Even though Ramirez Nessetti mentions surrogacy to her patients, she said, “A lot of them want to experience all the feelings and emotions,” she said. “They’re missing that part of being a mom, feeling the pregnancy, feeling the baby kick. It’s really about the bonding.”
While talking aboutWhat Is the Cybersecurity Color Wheel?
TheThe Cybersecurity Primary Colors
The red, blue, and yellow teams are the major and largest teams in a security department.What Is a Red Team in Cybersecurity?
The red team is the offensive team in cybersecurity. Red represents “The Breakers.” and they are the team commissioned to perform “ethical hacking” on an organization. They perform multiple security tests to do whatever it takes to breach the security defenses. They do more than just penetration testing to discover potential vulnerabilities and risks. The team acts like real-world attackers and carries out simulatedWhat Is a Blue Team in Cybersecurity?
The term Blue is entirely different from Red. They are the defensive team. Their responsibilities are to defend and protect the organization’s assets from unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. They are responsible for implementing defensive security, damage control, and incident response. They may also play the role of threat hunters, operational security wardens, and data forensics experts. A blue team is made up of Security Operations Centre (SOC) analysts, incident responders risk assessment analysts, and more.What Is a Yellow Team in Cybersecurity?
Yellow stands for “The Builders.” The team is responsible for developing the security system of an organization. They could be an in-house IT department or a third-party security solutions provider. They may also be app or software developers, who are expected to ascertain that their applications are adequately secure.The Cybersecurity Secondary Colors
Two primary colors are assembled to create a secondary color. The green, orange, and red teams are derived from the combination of two of the three primary colors.What Is a Green Team in Cybersecurity?
Green, symbolizes the color between yellow and blue and symbolizes a change in mindset on the part of The Builder (the yellow team). This indicates that the creators of the security system put themselves in the shoes of The Defender.What Is an Orange Team in Cybersecurity?
The orange team comes from the need to bridge the gap between the red and the yellow team. Their main responsibilities are education and facilitating interaction between the red team and the professionals building the application system.What Is a Purple Team in Cybersecurity?
Purple being the color between red and blue represents a change in mindset from being a pure defender to a team that also takes the vantage point of theWhat Is a White Team in Cybersecurity?
The white team is the neutral team. They are answerable for management, compliance, and policy-making. They operate the security departments, monitor their progress and metrics, organize teams and their exercises, and report the results to the organization’s board if there is one. This team includes Security Managers, Chief Information Security Officers, Security Auditors, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) analysts, and more.Improving Your Organization’s Security Posture
While talking about cyber security with customers or prospects and specifically more about security testing, we come across a more colorful world. cybersecurity tech is hardly associated with being colorful. Blue teams, red teams, yellow teams, and so on. Moving forward in this article we will discuss a handful of colors that have relevance in the field of security testing . The World Economic Forum published an article on why 2023 is a turning point for cybersecurity , focusing on the need for business leaders to adopt a strong cybersecurity culture. The article also highlighted how the emergence of new technologies will create risks as the new decade starts. The Cybersecurity Color Wheel was presented by April C. Wright at BlackHat USA 2023 in light of the growing problem of cyber threats. She wrote a paper on the coloration wheel to increase and shed light on the completely different fields in cybersecurity. In the beginning, the sole groups identified in cybersecurity had been the pink and blue groups. But the safety discipline has extended past these groups. The present discussion focuses on manual security testing. Automated cyber-threat assessment is a purely different subject since there are no different teams involved and the security professionals who use the automated and simulated attacks are usually coordinating or sharing their respective vantage chúng tôi cybersecurity color wheel is mostly a multicolored circle that displays the various fields in cybersecurity. It is made up of primary colors, secondary colors, and white. The primary colors contain red, blue, and yellow; the secondary colors are a combination of those primary colors, and they display purple, orange, and green. In total, the cybersecurity color wheel represents seven colors. These colors each symbolize something simple but highly sensible and represent a team in cybersecurity. They all have their different functions and career paths which are elaborated on in the discussions chúng tôi red, blue, and yellow teams are the major and largest teams in a security chúng tôi red team is the offensive team in cybersecurity. Red represents “The Breakers.” and they are the team commissioned to perform “ethical hacking” on an organization. They perform multiple security tests to do whatever it takes to breach the security defenses. They do more than just penetration testing to discover potential vulnerabilities and risks. The team acts like real-world attackers and carries out simulated cyber-threat to find and enumerate vulnerabilities in an organization’s system before any real hackers find them. Then these vulnerabilities are sent to the defense team to correct the chúng tôi term Blue is entirely different from Red. They are the defensive team. Their responsibilities are to defend and protect the organization’s assets from unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. They are responsible for implementing defensive security, damage control, and incident response. They may also play the role of threat hunters, operational security wardens, and data forensics experts. A blue team is made up of Security Operations Centre (SOC) analysts, incident responders risk assessment analysts, and more.Yellow stands for “The Builders.” The team is responsible for developing the security system of an organization. They could be an in-house IT department or a third-party security solutions provider. They may also be app or software developers, who are expected to ascertain that their applications are adequately chúng tôi primary colors are assembled to create a secondary color. The green, orange, and red teams are derived from the combination of two of the three primary colors.Green, symbolizes the color between yellow and blue and symbolizes a change in mindset on the part of The Builder (the yellow team). This indicates that the creators of the security system put themselves in the shoes of The chúng tôi orange team comes from the need to bridge the gap between the red and the yellow team. Their main responsibilities are education and facilitating interaction between the red team and the professionals building the application system.Purple being the color between red and blue represents a change in mindset from being a pure defender to a team that also takes the vantage point of the cyber-attacks. The white team is the neutral team. They are answerable for management, compliance, and policy-making. They operate the security departments, monitor their progress and metrics, organize teams and their exercises, and report the results to the organization’s board if there is one. This team includes Security Managers, Chief Information Security Officers, Security Auditors, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) analysts, and chúng tôi organization’s security posture means its ability to respond to and prevent cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is not a one-team job, but rather a very large and important field. Blending these colors represents the sharing of perspectives and collaboration similarly imparts a useful lesson system builders, defenders, and attackers should consider.
For several years a number of governments around the world have worked tirelessly to monitor or somehow regulate the way in which their citizens interact on the Internet. Due to services like Tor and virtual private networks (VPNs), this task has been getting difficult and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As long as there are people willing to make utilities that help people become anonymous on the Web, there will always be a way to work around regulations and blocks set up by centralized administrations.How It Works
If you’re unsure of how Tor works, I’ve already written a piece here on MTE that explains it. On top of Tor, the messenger system will work by connecting you through the OR protocol first, then adding your chat service of choice’s protocol as another layer on top of it. You can connect to Facebook, Jabber, IRC, Google Talk, Twitter, Yahoo, and many other services that allow for private conversations using this method. The goal of Tor Messenger is to allow conversations between people in countries where such a protocol is blocked for various reasons. You will always be able to find a Tor relay in a country where these services are not blocked, allowing you to both chat and hide your location with end-to-end encryption.Can’t You Just Run Tor Through Your Favorite Application?
Here’s where we get to the crux of Tor Messenger and what makes it special compared to just configuring your application to run through Tor and using it to chat instead. Yes, technically you can configure onion routing through your browser, Yahoo! Messenger, or whatever it is you use to chat. But while that may give you peace of mind knowing you’re appearing from another country, it still allows exchanges and relays with your encryption keys to view the messages sent through their servers. The keys work only until the message is decrypted by the last server before reaching its destination.
With Tor Messenger you have an added layer of functionality. Instead of having a traditional cryptography model, you will be using “Off-the-Record” (OTR) messaging. The way OTR works is that you and your friend on the other side decide on a secret key to use and input it directly into the messenger interface. Your messages will be decoded not by the server sending them but by the program running on your computer. This leaves every OR relay (even the one on the tail end of the transmission) completely clueless about what you’ve sent or received. By doing this you eliminate the possibility that your traffic will somehow be sniffed out by someone malicious. Instead, only you and the person on the other end will see the message itself rather than the gibberish that is normally transmitted through the web.Can’t Someone See The Key Before It’s Used, Though?
Of course, if you exchange the key through the same messaging system you intend to use it in, you’ve technically made all this effort for nothing. Someone can just easily grab your key and decode the entire conversation anyway. My suggestion is to make a phone call, send an SMS (less safe), or meet in person to exchange the key with the person you intend to speak with. Use a different key for each person you speak with to eliminate every possibility of sabotage if the conversation is extremely sensitive.
As long as you adopt these good practices, you’ll be able to keep your head underwater if privacy is that important to you in those particular moments.
Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.
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The time of the website as the primary location for online conversions is coming to an end.
This evolution is happening for many reasons:
The rise of mobile apps.
Google is working hard to become your personal assistant.
Chat apps, such as WhatsApp or Messenger along with the rise of chatbots that will offer more personalized conversion funnels and assist with voice activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
But one of the biggest factors is the rise of VR (virtual reality) and emergence of usable AR (augmented reality), which will see consumers move to other mediums.
With big-hitting names including Facebook with the Oculus Rift, HTC with the Vive, and Google with Cardboard, there’s no doubt that virtual reality will join the mainstream marketing mix over the next years.
But what does this mean for marketers? How can you leverage this new technology to connect with your customers?Why You Need to Understand VR Marketing Now
Those who say “VR will never be mainstream” also once said that “mobile will never replace desktop”. In the words of Sarah Hills, CEO for StoryUP and a pioneer for virtual reality storytelling:
“The world is no longer flat. The internet is fast becoming a place you step inside. Just as you had to make your site responsive for mobile, so too will you have to make it responsive for VR.”
A Goldman Sachs Research report agreed, noting that there are qualities in VR “that can take this from niche use case to a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone”. This is thanks to the captivating power of immersion.Virtual Reality Marketing Is All About Immersion
The upcoming buzzword for marketers is immersion — a strong feeling of being physically present in a virtual world. If you haven’t yet experienced it yourself, you can watch the powerful impact of this feeling below.
Immersion allows an emotional intensity in VR far greater than traditional media. For the first time since TV, we’re adding a new layer of experience to marketing — a technical infrastructure which allows us to be in another place, not see it from the outside.
Let’s take a moment to think about the digital communication hierarchy. We went from:
Reading text: You must imagine the scene for yourself.
Seeing images: You can view the scene but you are separate.
Watching videos: You can see and hear but you are separate.
Immersion in virtual realities: You feel part of the world.
As content becomes more tangible, engagement increases. Immersion, and the strong emotions it triggers, has the power to bring about real behavioral change. And innovative brands are already leveraging this technology.Impactful VR Marketing Campaigns Storytelling With Presence: New York Times
War has driven 30 million people from their homes. How do you get people to care? By bringing them into the lives of those displaced with an immersive documentary.
Readers didn’t watch these stories. They experienced the stories for themselves.Product Experience: Merrel
As marketers, it’s our job to tell people why they want our product or service and generate the desire to purchase. Merrel achieved this by allowing potential customers to go on a virtual hike and experience the thrill and awe for themselves.
The result: 5 minutes dwell time at their booth, with a line to try the experience out the door and around the corner! The campaign reached well beyond the one location’s 750 virtual hikers to a total reach of 500,000 worldwide due to word of mouth and social sharing. But neither of these was the biggest win for the brand. The campaign’s real success was inspiring people to go hiking with Merrel shoes — a testament to virtual reality marketing’s power to influence consumer behavior.
Following these innovative brands, others have embraced VR marketing, including Marriott, BBC, IKEA, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, TopShop, The North Face, and many more.
It doesn’t need to be a big, complicated campaign.
Restaurants can bring customers into their kitchens to show how their signature dish is made.
Recruiters can immerse candidates in the work environment to see how they behave with challenges.
You could meet speakers in a virtual world before signing up to a conference.
Virtual reality marketing can be leveraged by businesses of all sizes across any industry.How to Actually Do Virtual Reality Marketing 1. Be Immersed
Similar to social media, if you don’t live the channel, you’re bound to fail. So spend some time in VR.
Ride a virtual roller coaster. Play “Insidious” (only if you enjoy horror movies). Immerse yourself in news.
Experiencing the potential of virtual reality will allow you to create better content.2. Go Big or Go Shopping
Understand that there are different levels of VR.
If you want a fully immersive game or a complex, interactive application, you will likely need to work with a VR studio to create the experience. But virtual reality marketing doesn’t need to be so grandiose.
You can start small. Spend around $250 on a Gear 360 Camera and make your own videos. In-house creation allows the production more content and, more importantly, the ability to iterate on that content, improving video based on audience reactions.3. Treat VR as the Platform, Not the Idea
Virtual reality marketing is new, and as such will naturally attract user interest more than traditional channels. However, VR is the platform, not the message — don’t fall into the trap of treating it as the idea.
Impactful VR marketing provides meaningful branded experiences where the virtual reality component has an authentic role. You need to know what you want your audience to think, feel, or do and design an immersive aspect to achieve this.4. Brand the Virtual World
Miss out on the benefits of well-executed virtual reality marketing.
Don’t offer meaningful brand interaction.
Don’t leverage immersion.
Can’t encourage behavioral change or leave a lasting brand experience.
As in the real world, they are at best a distraction, at worst an annoyance.5. Launch a Virtual Reality App
Many examples of VR marketing focus on high-spend, short-term campaigns:
For many marketers, getting buy-in for such a campaign will be difficult. But more importantly, campaigns end. Virtual reality is a channel where customers will be engaging on a daily basis so you need to have a long-term presence and continually create new content.
The better approach for sustainable virtual reality marketing is a mobile app that distributes VR content on an ongoing basis. This content could be:
Live event coverage for publishers.
Showing the latest outfits in full 360 glory for fashion retailers.
Travel destination snapshots for a hotel chain.
List your VR app in the relevant app stores. Capitalize on app store optimization by adding “VR” in the app title and “Virtual reality” in the app description, and use visual iconography of a Cardboard in the app icon. These simple tips will ensure your app attracts the attention of those with compatible devices.
However, VR videos are not limited to being watched in-app. They can be viewed as 360 content on most social networks. This means they can be uploaded as a series of posts on Facebook, YouTube, and more. Be sure to link to back to your VR app so users download it and experience your content in full VR glory.
Featured image by Jes Stiles
Screenshots by Jes Stiles. Taken May 2023.
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