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Second Life: Navigating the Metaverse

Posted on 2.11.2007

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By Wayne Porter

Second Life, the popular social site where users create custom avatars and literally build a new, virtual world can be an excellent place to extend your brand.

Second Life is also an ideal place for product experimentation, feedback and simulation. However, failing to prepare your company for this new arena can end up wasting time, money, and even harm your brand.

It’s important to understand the contours of this brave new world and realize some of the common mistakes that other companies have made.

1) Failure to understand the culture. The culture of Second Life is in no way monolithic. Chances are, you will find someone or some group that shares your interests or has the right dynamics and demographics that your company is seeking. However, actively pursuing those people can be a major turn-off to potential customers. Let your company’s reputation speak for itself and be transparent about your intentions. Your community will find you. It is not whom you know, but who knows you.

2) Failure to understand how properties, monetary issues and terrain impact usability. There’s nothing that regular and influential Second Lifers detest more than egregious or out-of-place buildings, islands or constructions. Do your research and know in what part of the world your company is going to set up shop and how you are going to develop your program.

3) Disrupting the culture or group of artisans. Do not attempt to insert your brand into the general day-to-day of Second Life or the conversations that are occurring in other places. Your brand will suffer and the long-term result will be a waste of Lindens — Second Life dollars. Realize that people in Second Life are people in the real world as well. Their avatars might look different, but the psychology of not wanting to be bombarded by an advertising message is the same.

4) Your brand may be perceived differently in Second Life than it is in the real world. You must realize that your company’s offline brand may have different perceptions in the virtual world because of the type of user actively engaged in Second Life. You will not be reaching the same demographics in Second Life as you do with a newspaper, TV, radio or even online media buy. Research your target demographic and understand who will be interacting with your brand.

5) Failure to survey, immerse and spend adequate time building relationships in a neighborhood. Even though Second Life has more than one million users, the secret to success for any brand is relationship building. Allow people to learn something about your brand and contribute to the overall experience of the average Second Life user rather than trying to make a quick profit. Even small brands can have an impact in Second Life where innovation is rewarded through micro-transactions.

Second Life, despite its strange terrain, new vocabulary and learning curve for new users, still comes back to community, participation, and joining the conversation. Just don’t be surprised if you end up talking to someone with blue wings or purple skin. He might be a 19 year old college sophomore at Stanford or he might be the CEO of a giant company. You can check out Second Life the Official Guide from your favorite bookstore.

Here are some additional resources recommended at the Linden Labs Second Life site.

About the Author:
Wayne Porter is Director of Special Research at FaceTime Communications and also co-founder of Revenews.com. He is a MSFT Security MVP with a strong background in e-commerce analysis and analytics. More at WaynePorter.com.
 

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The following is an excerpt from an interview of Katt Kongo of Metaverse Messenger (M2), conducted by Andrew Mallon of Mallon Advertising Representatives.

What is Metaverse Messenger?
The M2 is a newspaper which solely covers the world of Second Life (SL), providing a source for news and entertainment, as well as a way for businesses to spread the word about their products and/or services.

Describe your marketing activity/experience in SL:
I started the M2 in August of 2005. The first month, we had 200 readers. We currently have 12,500 readers. We got to where we are now by actively marketing our product, being visible in the community and being a reliable product.

How can a company of any size best utilize this new, virtual economy?
One of the M2’s slogans is "Be Virtually Visible." No matter who you are, whether a small virtual company selling virtual goods, or a real-world company coming into SL for a cross-promotion, no one will buy into what you are offering if they don’t know about you. Get out in the world, advertise your product or service.
 


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