Mitch Joel offers up a post today on examples of some marketers he thinks are doing Second Life right. He sees a shift from the “build it and they will come” philosophy to one in which companies seek to engage consumers in the Second Life experience through contests and other activities.
In the past couple of weeks it would seem like Marketers are starting to understand the power of marketing in Second Life and other virtual worlds. My main contention with previous Second Life marketing initiatives was that brands were entering the Metaverse, buying islands and were then “open for business.” It became apparent – quickly – that the Field Of Dreams model of, “build it and they will come” was not the ideal execution. We’ve seen countless islands that are now abandoned and seem more appropriate for a Discovery Channel documentary on lost civilizations then in the still-buzzing hype of Second Life.
Both examples seem simple enough… and that’s the point. Second Life is complicated enough, so the big Marketing lesson is to leverage the Second Life community, make it easy to enter and fun to win. It also helps that both of these examples enable non-Second Life residents to take part and get interested. This has remarkable strategic by-products: it may well be that what Lacoste and Coke are doing in Second Life will stimulate people who never would have entered the Metaverse to take a look, and – hopefully – try out virtual worlds.
Second Life marketing is coming of age… and this is just the beginning.
I’m still not convinced about Second Life as a marketing vehicle. I do participate in the weekly Coffee with Crayon event where about 30 online marketers get together inside Second Life to chat about issues of the day. And I do feel like I get value out of it. But it also feels a bit clunky to me and I can already sense the novelty of commenting on the style and appearance of others’ avatars is wearing thin. In many respects, I feel like I’ve turned the clock back 10 years to when I used to organize online chats.
Perhaps what concerns me most is that there seems to be relatively little discussion of outcomes. I believe that Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson did touch briefly on the ROI potential of Virtual Thirst on a recent episode of For Immediate Release, but in general I think companies need to do a better job of thinking through what they want to accomplish by participating in Second Life and then subsequently monitoring and measuring to see if those goals — whatever they may be — are being achieved.