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Second Life: not for the ROI obsessed marketer

When asked about Second Life in the line of work, my usual response has been that it is an interesting place conceptually: you can see glimpses of what the 3D web will be, you can experiment, innovate and marvel at the thing, but don't go committing big budgets without (a) fully understanding how it works and (b) expecting much by way of return beyond the experience and the insights.

Looking at even the more used branded spaces in the virtual world, you might conclude that a stand in a "Real Life" shopping centre would be more effective from a "footfall" point of view. If stats published by Second Life monitoring firm Tateru are anything go by it would have to be a very small shopping centre indeed, with the most popular branded sites attracting almost 6,500 visitors a month.

As reported on Nigel Hollis's blog:

As Wagner James Au suggests, “With a month of Tateru reporting, a consistent theme emerges: real world marketing sites in Second Life are still struggling for significance in the world’s overall culture.  At a weekly high of 6454 visitors, even the most successful corporate site now attracts but a fraction of Second Life’s total active user base of some 400,000.” Over the first month of measurement, the three benchmark native reality sites consistently topped the ranking, outdistancing the best mixed reality brand by a fair margin.

My favourite brands in Second Life remain Reuters and IBM - both are using the space to experiment, innnovate, try stuff out. If you're not there to learn and experiment like these brands, best leave your "Second Life strategy" as being one of watch and learn.

: : Meantime, I'm looking forward to next year's launch of the Lego virtual world... Lego's harnessing its strong online fan-base and communities to help develop the world. There's a fair bit of discussion at the project messageboard already. 

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Well, first off - the traffic system is flawed, and numbers are easily skewed with a few camping chairs. Thankfully, they are supposed to be fixing that... right...

Next - most marketers don't even have dynamic websites of import. They are niche websites. There are only a few million people, at most, in Second Life. Meanwhile, about 2 billion people on the planet have internet access.

Apples and Bigger Apples. Where's the comparison? The truth is that most marketing on the web is flat and impersonal. In Second Life it is not flat and it is personal. If you can visit a site on a web browser, what's the point of visiting a 3 dimensional version of the same thing? Why would I go to a site in SL to purchase an Amazon book when I can simply get more in a web browser?

Second Life is not corporate, it is social - and it is not social in the marketing sense but in the human sense. Put down your blog, your spreadsheet and your pen and paper - go interact with people. That's Second Life. Static websites are the equivalent of what most places are there in SL.

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