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SecondLife, a virtual marketing tool?

May 9, 2010

SecondLife (SL) is a virtual culture using avatars to navigate and communicate through this space. SecondLife developed by Linden Lab launching this virtual world on June 23, 2003 which is accessible on through the Internet.

Based on an article from Businessweek.com, companies are thinking twice about virtual worlds and finding more security and flexibility in alternatives.

The article focus on many big name companies, such as Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola (just to name a few) that created virtual worlds in SecondLife all trying to market and attract youthful, tech – savvy customers.  But Wells Fargo, “Stagecoach Island”, pulled out of SecondLife and opted to create its own world, a larger, stand-alone online universe that it can monitor more closely and customize.

According to the article, they stated the Web-based parallel universe is a messy marketplace where you’re as likely to see a bare-chested, rabbit-headed avatar trolling for adult themes entertainment or vandalizing a digital store.  So more companies are utilizing a 3-D virtual world, however their creating it owns their own.

The growing crop of Second Life alternatives is diverse and highly specialized but shares a common focus on security, customization, and control – three qualities that are business-friendly.

So what is SecondLife doing to increase their security and allow businesses to gain more control?

Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, doesn’t think that building a series of separate virtual worlds is a good strategy, director of marketing Catherine Smith says. The company, however, is working on allowing corporate players to increase security by hosting their own servers that could keep their back-end data separate from Linden Lab’s main server.

So is it worth being on SL?

From an interactive marketing standpoint, a company should only brand their selves where the audience they’re trying to reach is at.  Companies must be an active player in any virtual space not just a placeholder to say “we on all the latest social sites and virtual environments”.

“It’s about conversations. It’s about having conversations with your target audience. It’s about participating in your target’s conversations. It’s about listening in a way that helps you understand your audiences better.”- Jim Tobin, Ignite Social Media

And having conversation on SL isn’t difficult but would be pointless (for a company) if their target audience isn’t there in the virtual space and their not seeing ROI.  Let’s face it; at the end of the day for a business, it’s about making money.  True marketers know that and would research and create a marketing strategy before just jumping at the latest technology.

So to answer the question is SecondLife a virtual marketing tool?  It depends on some many factors to say a “yes” or “no” answer.  It really depends on the company and their purpose for entering this virtual space.

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