second lifers: unhappy with brands

A new study shows that current Second Lifers don't appreciate brands coming into Second Life. Many don't even notice the brands. "Over a third of them were unaware of the branded presence and 42% said they thought it constituted nothing more than a short-term trend, lacking durable commitment from the companies."

Shouldn't really be a surprise - as the majority of the brands that have made the greatest noise outside Second Life aren't doing anything worthwhile inside Second Life.

In the old days of about a year ago, brands could issue a press release announcing their Second Life existence, and expect boku attention. No more, thankfully.

Like any community of humans, a brand needs to provide something of value to the community, in order to get recognition. It's the most simple branding, marketing or business principle. And yet everyone's thrown that out the window in the last year.

So, before you launch your lonely island in Second Life, ask your agency "what benefit will this provide current Second Lifers?" If you hear a long 'uhhhhhh...' it's time to rethink the strategy.

Unrelated, Justus flexes for the camera, in his world famous pants, above.


*IPHQ* said...

I called it months ago, but the Second Life backlash is finally getting into full swing. What happens when you mix lots of advertising, a slow server and nothing but chaos? The second coming of MySpace, which, to no one's surprise, it treated like the plague by many.

Lucky for us in the web industry, there's always new stuff coming. Just last night while catching up on a couple of blogs, I saw Virb mentioned on several of them (after this one of course!). What did people like about Virb most? It's clean design (and the fact that it actually looked DESIGNED) and the lack of "brand spam," which is what all MySpace is anymore.

I don't think the challenge is for brands to get into the online social networks anymore, it's how they get into those networks in a way that doesn't piss off everybody who's already there.

People like to discover things. I understand the need for major companies to issue a press release every time someone blows their nose, but I think people would be a lot more acceptable of brands coming to where they unwind and interact if it were done in a way that allowed users to feel as though they had discovered them vs. feeling like they are being forced to take notice.

It's less about being 100% visible everywhere and more about becoming a part of people's lives, looking smart and building trust so that people respect you enough to pay attention and not just dismiss your brand as one of the many other things they get bombarded with on a daily basis.

Troy Mc said...

Some brands *do* understand how to get a meaningful presence in Second Life, either by providing things that people there want, or by sponsoring things already there that people want.

Examples: Reuters distributes a free news feed displayer device and covers SL news, SirsiDynix is sponsoring the core islands in the Info Island Archipelago (a growing international community of librarians and educators), Thomson NETg sponsors classes (on building, camera control, and much more) offered by the Academy of Second Learning, Pontiac is giving people free land where they can build stuff (and more importantly, build community) related to car culture...

Repeat this mantra: If you build it, they will come, once. If you help them build it, they'll call it home.

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