Second Life for Corporate?

I just saw a great article in Wired about how Second Life isn’t adding up for the corporate sector. Coke and the NBA have been in there trying and while Second Life may have the cool factor, the cash register isn’t ringing for the marketers and their bosses!

Interesting because I have been saying this from day one. As one who advises clients on new/social media options, I checked out the blogging when it first got hot (loved it and saw great value), I checked out the podcasts (good for commuters but not everyone will have an IPod so it isn’t the perfect solution), I checked out video on Youtube and other sites (so cool and viral), I checked out Linkedin (great value but high maintenance) and MySpace (interesting but have to weed through a lot of riff raff) and Facebook (wild frontier with endless possibilities) and of course Second Life which, when asked, I said from day one it was cool but had no long term value (translates to sales) for the corporate sector.

Now at the Business Smart Tools conference in May, I invited Greg Verdino, then of Digitas, to give a demo of Second Life. With every conference, I want to present something that is way out there for those who aren’t messing around with the latest latest. He was great and it was interesting but many in the audience just didn’t see how they could use it to get their message out to their present and future customers. I agreed with them.

As Wired has mentioned, the concept of Avatars in an online community may evolve into something truly worthwhile for business, but until then, stick to the hundreds of other marketing options that exist online!

2 thoughts on “Second Life for Corporate?

  1. Hi Valorie –

    Hope all is well – and thanks for the mention. 🙂

    But I would advise you to take the Wired article with a grain of salt. It is loaded with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, quotes taken out of context and in at least one case an outright misquote.

    We are in the midst of an anti-SL downswing in major media coverage, so it was quite timely (and fashionable) for Wired to run their piece — and given the increasingly negative spin that many reporters are putting on their articles, it’s not surprising that Wired did the same. Nevermind the fact that Wired was also one of the principle hype monsters that sung SL’s praises (as recently as 6 months ago) and in all likelihood drove many companies to jump into SL without doing proper diligence.

    I’m not saying that SL is right for every business (or even many businesses), and I wouldn’t argue that its not outright silly in some respects (I think I even made that point when I demo’d it at Business Smart Tools.) And it would be hard to build a case that branded SL initiatives are making RL cash registers ring (but then again, many of our traditional marketing channels have only an indirect and often unmeasurable impact on sales – tv? radio? pr?)

    But these are VERY early days and if virtual environments hold promise in the long term (even Wired concedes this point) and you believe in the eventual emerging of a 3D web (companies like IBM are investing hundreds of millions to bring this to fruition), then I think companies should be exploring how to leverage virtual worlds for a variety of business purposes.

    Marketing is only one of those purposes. Here at crayon, we use our SL island primarily as a meeting place for our remote team members and as a forum for b-to-b networking events. We’ve pitched business in our SL boardroom and have interviewed remote job candidates. Our creative team meets in-world to colloborate on projects. I think these might be interesting areas of opportunity — even if marketing isn’t (yet.)


  2. A big hello back at ya, Greg Verdino, and a big thank you for your insights! You are right that SL can be used for other things like meetings using Crayonville as the example, and of course you are right about the potential of SL for business. I just don’t see the marketing value at this point in time (which doesn’t mean that there won’t be value in the future) plus you are right when you said at the BST conference that SL wasn’t for every business just like, as I say, blogging or facebook might not be as well.

    Always good to hear your perspective.

    Hope all is well at Crayon!

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