Is Second Life a Waste of Time and Money for Marketers?
Wired ran an article yesterday that encapsulates one of the biggest problems with the emerging Web. The money quote:
For people who’ve grown up in analog, Second Life is not that hard to understand,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a consulting arm of the global ad giant Publicis Groupe. “I have a store in the real world; I have a store in the virtual world.” In contrast, the kind of digital marketing that actually works requires a conceptual leap. Successful online marketing is targeted and specific, like direct mail — but it’s direct mail in a fun house, where the recipients can easily seize control of what the mail says, where it goes next, and how it gets there. You need to know how to buy up keywords to maximize search returns, how to make the most of recommendation engines, how to use the viral potential of Web video, how to monitor what’s being said in blogs and message boards, how not to blow it by trying to be deceptive. Building a corporate pavilion in Second Life doesn’t require any of these things. It’s simple and it’s obvious.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward: online community building isn’t about fancy technology or flashy corporate pavilions in 3-D worlds. It’s about enabling people to connect with one another in ways that are meaningful to them. As Liz Strauss told me, you can’t have a community without people.