In World

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When was the last time you thought about virtual worlds? Do you have an avatar? When was the last time you were in Second Life?

It became amazingly apparent that we have switched from talking about Second Life to Twitter without missing a beat. So much so, that after reading the AdWeek article, Second Life Attempts to Stage a Rebirth, I wondered who is still popping "in world" for a little virtual existence? It doesn’t seem like such a bad idea given what’s been going on in the real world as of late. Aren’t you just a wee bit curious to know how those Linden dollars are stacking up against the real world currencies?

"…the venue is seeking to reach a wider audience through enhanced usability, helping new visitors quickly learn the ropes and enticing them to probe more deeply once they’ve become acclimated. Second Life’s first attempt to accomplish these goals is a new home page that’s already generated big bumps in exploration once users are ‘in world,’ according to the company."

While many of the big name brands that drove the popularity of the virtual world have now moved on to other digital channels (like, err… Twitter), there is still a vast community doing, building, hanging, connecting and – yes – even making money.

"To be sure, Second Life is still notching growth by some measures. The virtual world reports the time residents spent ‘in world’ in 2008 rose 61 percent from 2007. And it made a 31 percent gain in peak concurrent users over the previous year."

Admittedly, I can’t remember the last time I was "Mitch Till". I don’t even have the Second Life software downloaded on to the new laptop yet, but after reading the article in AdWeek and thinking about how much of an impact virtual worlds had on me, I’m thinking of giving it another shot. The AdWeek article focuses on how Linden Lab (the owners of Second Life) knew that there were huge usability and technological challenges with getting newer users (beyond the early adopters) and keeping them.

If Second Life becomes easier to use, simpler to navigate and more useful to more people, we may just see a resurgence in people looking to lead the life they were meant to lead.

What would bring you back or get you into Second Life or another online virtual world?


  1. Honestly, I’ve never used it and only heard of it at all in the past six months. Lacking a specific reason for needing to figure it out, I won’t waste the time. I would almost need the 140 character pitch as to why it’s relevant to me specifically. It seems as if it would almost be a step backwards in terms of productivity.

  2. I’ve written about Second Life and virtual worlds more times then I can remember. I even wrote about it a few weeks about after it and WoW came up in my eBusiness class.
    Second life is trying to rebirth but can they succeed is another question. I think there time has come and passed to a great degree. You only get one chance to make a first impression. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out as more people move their marketing budgets online.
    Mitch, what do you think will be one big trend for 2009?

  3. I did join second life a few years ago but found it all a bit bewildering. Maybe I should have stuck with it. Still, I have enough to do in this life let alone trying to add more with a second life.

  4. I used second life for marketing of product launches at both Cisco and Dell. The problem usually was it was too cumbersome to use and the interface was not intuitive. What I have found successful are virtual seminars (outside of Second Life) put on by companies such as on24. These are much simpler implementations and I have found much greater ROI. Happy to talk more at length if needed.

  5. Not that bringing stuff into Second Life is not valid, but one thing I’d be more exited about, I think other gamers could agree, is all the different ways to take stuff from Second Life out with you into the real world/other web services.
    One example is I see Plurk being used by Second Life characters, as their alter egos. On that service they can share images (that get embedded in their posts) from the virtual world with others. Perhaps it’s the idea that experiences on Second Life do poorly as an isolated end.

  6. I’m your woman/avatar if you want to know about Second Life as an integral part of any social media strategy.
    I’ve done my own experimentation in SL including getting a virtual job as an SL reporter for; starting an SL-based business; co-owning a virtual island; holding 3-5 live events weekly with guests such as Don Peppers, and producing several live Second Life television shows including REAL BIZ in SL where I’ve featured Dell, IBM, Cisco, Playboy many other major corporations and nonprofits; and organizing simultaneous real world/SL events.
    I’ve taken what I’ve gleaned from these experiences plus over 15 years as an Internet consultant to conduct strategic SL marketing for clients. We specialize in cross-platform marketing so as Malcom Bastien mentioned, the really interesting part is going from SL into “RL” or “FL.” It is this cross-pollination that really gains traction when you’re looking to embark on an SL initiative.
    Frankly, I find all my Web-based social media tactics are greatly enhanced with an SL component. And when it comes to global reach, it has that in spades.
    For Heather Kennedy who wanted a 140-character pitch as to why Second Life is relevant to her:
    If you’re engaged in social media, you can take your efforts to profoundly new levels using SL to increase your reach & enhance your brand.
    And yes, I make real US dollars from my work in Second Life & BECAUSE of my work in Second Life.
    [get’s off soapbox]

  7. I started in Second Life 2.5 years ago because I was interested in the marketing angle. It didn’t work all that well then but more because the marketers rushing in wanted to do old-school marketing in a new-school setting. I’m in it every day, but now for more of the social and creative aspects. There’s plenty of room for anything you want to do there, but you have to understand the world before you go in to change it.

  8. I joined SL just over two years ago and while my hours in-world dropped after the initial time I spent learning the ropes, they have been stable ever since.
    I am glad the hype is finally dying down and there’s more focus on what’s really going on in-world.
    I am an in-world broadcaster, both on radio and TV, and we’ve been finding attendance at events and listener/viewership going up steadily. I’m noticing concurrent users nudging 100K. No way is this thing dead: on the contrary. I’m finding new in-world venues having to move because they underestimated attendance levels and needed more space…
    I think most marketers failed initially in-world because they did not take the trouble to find out who residents were and what conversations they wished to have. The average resident is very creative, very original, very intelligent and marketers have to recognise that. This is why in-world businesses often did a lot better than off-world brands.
    It’s been said before, but the parallels between SL/Vws and the early days of the Web is worth remembering. In the Hype Cycle, we’re on the Slope of Enlightenment now. Thank goodness.
    Today, I am particular excited by educational and library-related possibilities of VWs in general and SL in particular, and especially virtual conferencing, which offers something much more like a real conference than the “remote powerpoint” experience of videoconferencing or web-seminars – and with minimal carbon emissions (plus enormous CO2 emissions savings if you were otherwise going to fly to a conference venue).
    Today, I am spending much more time in-world on business than ever before: meetings, shows and conferences. I have to remember once in a while I can go in to have fun too (mind you, my in-world events ARE fun).

  9. I think most everyone finds that SL is too real. It can cause real life depression and has in most of the people I know there. The problem with fake reality is that people have no real accountability saying and doing whatever the ID dictates at that moment. Many put “no drama” signs on their land and in their profiles but it is like admitting defeat. SL is a drama paradise and nobody escapes it – much like real life.
    Marketing in world is just plain strange. People latch onto fads that make less sense than the “pet rock” craze of the ’70s and they do it showing all the tell tale signs of blind conformity. Why? Well it is not because there are lots of bullies twisting people’s arms. No.
    It is because there is too much land, too many stores, too many clubs, too much space. Peer pressure is all about being at the few clubs, stores, and places where other people go. Once there, you wanna chat right? Well that is when the fads seperate the old farts and noobs from the cool avatars. In my estimation, only high school offers this kind of pressure that if you don’t conform nobody will talk to you.
    Finding key influencers (the cool avatars) is the key to marketing in SL. One vocal avatar telling all their friends about a cool club can pack that club’s next event much better than even a $20K Linden contest prize. In fact, offering prizes to Avatars is the best way to make the game a nightmare.
    All of these articles talk about how smart and independent avatars in SL. I have not seen this. I have seen cliques, peer pressure, drama queens and all other forms of selfishness and greed. By and large, the majority of avatars are still in process on a college degree and are severely deficient on life experience.
    Ive met a lot of great folks in world, but it came at the cost of filtering through tons of folks that remind you of the movie “Mean Girls” within the first 30 seconds. I strongly recommend against setting the goal of getting rich in SL. Very few people ever make more than a handful of sales in Second Life.
    You can fancy yourself a marketing genius, but you are full of yourself if you can’t see that SL is just a replacement for TV – still a complete waste of time.

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