Posted by: wingnut650 | August 29, 2007

Second Life…ahead of it’s time?

I was thinking recently about the destination “Second Life” and how it was, at one point, hyped to be this greatest virtual world / social site for internet users.  I did some reading on various blogs regarding the successes and failures of this virtual world as a business and marketing channel.  It got me thinking at first that it was a huge bust (from a marketing perspective) because:
a) I don’t know anyone that actually visits SL on a regular basis so, no ‘word of mouth’ affect for me here
b) Experiences of other bloggers seem pretty mixed, no ringing endorsements
c) I NEVER see any marketing of SL, really anywhere

So, from this, I would think that my verdict would be that SL really isn’t such a good idea for business opportunity.  BUT, the way I actually feel is that maybe SL is too far ahead of the curve.  My co-writer discusses the slow acceptance of airport kiosks for ticketing in airports and my thoughts on this are similar in that I believe ‘end users’ just aren’t comfortable or familiar with the technology yet.  I think you can apply the same logic to SL.  On average, the number of simulatneous visitors to SL is around 20K out of approximately 2M members (this is fuzzy math, but probably not TOO far from ‘reality’, here’s another) and these users seem to be fairly balanced from a demographic standpoint.  Now, from what I’ve read, users of SL seem to be quite comfortable with technology in general – which really does NOT describe the greater population and therefore greater number of consumers (just look at the use of airport kiosks, which I think could be looked at as a bellweather for technology acceptance by the general population).  This is not a recipe for success if you plan on using SL to make money or be a key marketing channel – your audience is immediately small and since it’s relatively diverse, your target audience in SL is even smaller (now, if SL is a good way of targeting mavens, that’s another thing to think about).  As more people begin to become comfortable with technology and that the barriers of entry to a virtual world are painless/easy, then SL becomes more viable and deserves more attention as a means to market to your consumers.  I think eventually being active in SL/virtual worlds will be a very real way to both network socially and participate as a consumer, I just don’t think that today is it.

For an insightful article on SL, here’s a link that I found including one regarding the analysis of CTR and CPM rates on SL and a referred article that discusses popular myths of SL

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