Aug 30 Why Second Life Marketing Is Doomed to Fail
In a post in July, I talked about how Second Life marketing and strategic marketing were not yet aligning. I originally thought that the early adopters hadn’t gotten it right yet and between more users and more savvy marketing techniques, perhaps it could improve.
- Second Life isn’t built to hold a mass audience in one place. (Only 75 people or so can fit in one place.)
- Second Life doesn’t efficiently allow you to have a one-to-many conversation like most other social media tools, including social networking sites, blogs, wikis and podcasts, do.
- Second Life users don’t like or welcome the marketing efforts going on so far.
- The barriers to using Second Life (downloading the application, setting up an avatar, spending hours figuring out how to use it) will keep it from “tipping” into something the general public (as opposed to a core group of early adopters) will actually do. In other words, SL will not jump the huge chasm between early adopters and mainstream use in the technology adoption learning curve.
- Second Life users “would like to be able to interact more with the brands represented,” but Second Life doesn’t offer very many opportunities to do this.
- Most real products in Second Life are horribly dull as compared to a) fictional products created in SL, b) interacting with them in the real world and c) other fun things to do in SL.
Check out this Scion in Second Life video to see what I mean by that last point:
Most importantly, most of the brands setting up in Second Life are not engaging their customers. This is caused in part by the limitations of Second Life itself and in part by the false hope created by Second Life to marketers. What I mean is that the similarities to our real world made marketers think they could do similar things they were comfortable with, like billboards and product demos. See Coke, the NBA, Wired, CNET, Adidas, Coldwell Banker, Sears…
Social media marketing, however, is (or will be as it matures) about stepping off the pedestal and engaging with people on an even footing. Those trying to justify SL marketing, like Joseph Jaffe, say the right things: “This is not about reach anymore. This is about connecting. It’s about establishing meaningful, impactful conversations.” He’s right, that’s what social media marketing is all about.
Problem is, Second Life is not efficient at “establishing meaningful, impactful conversations” and never will be. I pity how lonely this poor sap helping out the Edwards campaign is going to be. Until a significant overhaul in usability, marketing in Second Life will never generate ROI to justify the expense.
There are lots of companies out there (Link1, Link2) who make money helping companies do this marketing. Heck, we’ll help you if you want to do it anyway. Just know what you’re getting into: an experiment unlikely to generate results that you’ll be proud to share.