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Should Marketers Get a Second Life, or a First One?

Posted By Robert Gorell On July 16, 2007 @ 3:01 pm In Community,Marketing 2.0 / Web 2.0,Social Media | 8 Comments

A lot has been written about Second Life [1] over the past few days, mostly because it seems marketers are fleeing the popular online community in droves. After a mad rush by large brands to plant their flag in Second Life, folks like CenterNetworks‘ Allen Stern are questioning whether the virtual world really needs [2] a “Ben & Jerry’s Island.”

We spent most of the session on the “Ben & Jerry’s” island. During the session, we were able to fly around, look at a wall of the history of B&J, and chat with other people. Wait, that was one person during the entire 30 minute session. I asked what it cost to create the island and Don nodded when I suggested $50k.

Don also noted that we are only in the first inning of virtual worlds. I agree with his statement. It reminds me a bit of when the Web first started to commercialize. “Who would use the Web to buy insurance” is a statement I heard several times from an executive at an insurance company.

Technovia‘s Ian Batteridge has a similar take [3], writing that:

. . . the approach that most corporates have taken with Second Life has been the same as they took with the early web “We must have a Second Life presence! Build it and people will come!”

But SL isn’t static media, and that, unfortunately, means that the static media approaches you can take with a web page won’t work. SL isn’t a medium which is suitable for researching information unless that information is best communicated via 3D models. A museum might profit from simply building an island and waiting for people to come – a corporate won’t.

On face value, I agree with both Stern and Batteridge. But they raise an interesting point: If those marketing on Second Life are using prehistoric Web tactics — i.e., stuff from the broadcast or “push” marketing playbook, left over from the old media days – why in the proverbial world might they work in a virtual one? This is uncharted territory to be sure, but wouldn’t product placement and viral promotions among Second Life, er, citizens make more sense than paying $50k to setup shop just to say that you’re kinda, almost, virtually there?

Ah-ha… the plot thickens! Over at WebInkNow, David Meerman Scott* tells us of a staffing company that’s paying real money to Second Life temps [4]. Might these virtual folks end up staffing the virtual islands, thus creating a real economy? And does virtual ice cream taste any good? Like “astronaut ice cream” perhaps?

For now, I’m skeptical. But there’s a lesson here for all of us: Before pushing a new online presence, make sure you know what success really means in advance. Otherwise, those virtual islands might leave your company a bit… shipwrecked.

[*For those who missed it, don't forget to check out my recent interview with David Meerman Scott [5] on his fantastic book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR.]

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/07/16/should-marketers-get-a-second-life-or-a-first-one/

URLs in this post:

[1] Second Life: http://minethatdata.blogspot.com/2007/07/multichannel-retailing-week-e-mail.html

[2] questioning whether the virtual world really needs: http://www.centernetworks.com/going-out-of-business-sale-40-off-all-second-life-islands

[3] a similar take: http://www.technovia.co.uk/?p=1278

[4] a staffing company that’s paying real money to Second Life temps: http://www.webinknow.com/2007/07/randstad-offers.html

[5] recent interview with David Meerman Scott: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/07/05/grokcast-david-meerman-scott-on-the-new-rules-of-marketing-pr-part-1/

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