Corporations Leave Second Life. We never knew you were there!

Posted on July 25, 2007. Filed under: advertising, American Apparel, Bank America, Burger King, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, H&R Block, Lost, NBA, Sears, Second Life, Social Network, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Warcraft, Web 2.0, Web3.d, Wired Magazine |

I got a good laugh out of the recent Wired article stating that Second Life was officially over.
Many companies who tried to market themselves in Second Life failed and are now leaving. Coke, American Apparel, NBA, Sears, H&R Block, etc. (edit: Some of these companies aren’t leaving, just complaining that their real world strategies failed).

The problem with these companies is they try to market in it the same way they market in the real world. This is a virtual world that they know virtually nothing about. Why would an avatar want a Coke? Duh! There is no thirst in Second Life as their is no rain.

It amazes me that these companies look at a brand new technology and say, “let’s make money in it right away. If we build it they will come and spend.” Very few of the marketers who have delved into Second Life have engaged users. “Come drive my car”, okay but to get there I’m going to hop on my hovercraft or just fly. Once the novelty of driving your car for 5 minutes wears off, what else do you have to engage me? A chance to win a Pontiac to the person who creates the coolest concept car in Second Life? No? A Mercedes racing game? No? Oh, a free racing suit. Thanks. ALot of people talk about American Apparel closing it’s store. It may have been one of the first but it was also one of the worst. There was stage but no posting as to when fashions shows took place. AA clothes are for the most part non-descript. Why would it appeal to me to buy one of your plain t-shirts for my avatar? I have an alligator head and fairy wings! Not to mention that there was no staff at the store, no events, NOTHING of interest, oh, except the free 6 pack of beer on the desk (random).

One of the few real world entities that has a presence in Second Life that works is the L Word. Why? Because they’ve created locations from the set to hang out, they let Second Lifers sell their L Word-related merchandise their, they host events, there are greeters to meet you and answer questions. Second Life is a waste of time for most companies just like Bud.tv was. Why go to a web site just because it has the bud logo. What are they offering consumers? Why go to Coke Island or wherever? Because it’s Coke?

I’m surprised Burger King hasn’t tried to replicate their games or created new ones in SL. That would generate some interest. I’m further surprised that game companies don’t host mini, playable previews of their game environments there, or more record companies don’t do virtual artist shows, or tv shows (Hello Lost) put on spin off episodes, meet the cast, or tour the island events on. These are the kinds of companies that can benefit from Second Life. Bank America isn’t going to get people to use their ATM machines! What is H&R Block going to do in Second Life, help people with their virtual taxes?

As for Wired’s article above, it’s further sensationalist journalism. “Second Life is Officially Over” they say. Only 1 million visitors in the last 30 days. I’d bet there are alot of companies that would like that kind of turnout on their web site.

Second Life does herald the next generation of the Internet, only a fool can deny that. The thing is, not unlike early 90s web sites, it’s not ready to be an ecommerce tool. Brand awareness, generator, maybe. Possibility for consumer engagement? I’ve got news for you, consumers are in charge now and no place is that more apparent than in their own world.

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Michael Durwin in a Google

Posted on March 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, Boston, Eternal Gaze//Scope, Google, Matt Hanson, Michael Durwin, RSS feed, Second Life, Warcraft, XPLSV.tv |

Google search bar with Michael Durwin's name in it.

I’ve been a bit self-obsessed I do admit. Over the last year or two I’ve been searching for my name, Michael Durwin, on Google. I’ve spoken to several companies who have Googled me prior to business meetings. It’s been very interesting to note what they have found, online community comments, Amazon book reviews, old portoflios, etc. I can’t tell you how many people looking for information on Michael Durwin have found my old portfolios. Granted, all designers evolve, but the last thing a designer wants to hear is that someone saw their work from 4 years ago and be judged based on that!
Because Google is such a big part of just about everyone’s online experience, it’s important to be mindful of your online image. Many are talking about avatars in reference to 3D characters in Second Life, Warcraft, etc. I’d suggest that users create an avatar the second the begin building their online representation, usually with an email address. Web sites, blogs, email addresses, online community comments, etc. are all facets of our avatar.
That means that everything you say or do online becomes part of your avatar. Users who act like pricks in community forums, put up pictures of them with their drunk buddies on MySpace, videos of parties in YouTube, etc. should expect that anyone looking for information on them such as human resources, recruiters, fathers of girlfriends, the government, clients, press or anyone else wanting to know you better, is not going to have the best impression.
I believe that it is very important to manage your avatar or online personality. Not to say that any of us should censor what we discuss online, but we have to be prepared to accept the consequences.
I recently ran into an interesting situation. While searching for my name on Google, a new entry popped up on a web site called Eternal Gaze//Scope, which is apparently a blog from UK writer Matt Hanson (no, not one of the Hanson brothers of 90s pop fame). THe site is intended to be a blog but pulls reviews of motion graphics clips from a site called XPLSV.tv. XPLSV.tv is an awesome motion graphics site. It is comprised of some of the most amazing motion artists I have ever seen. Users post their work for review by their peers. I have several pieces posted on XPLSV.tv and to be honest they pale in comparison to some of the other work there. That however, is the point. I’m posting to a site that, while I know it is accessed by the general public, is primarily used by other motion graphics artist. Those users feel free to be as harsh as they want in reviewing work, which is not always pleasant but it is constructive for the most part. My issue began when I found a couple of comments that, in the context of XPLSV.tv’s site are fine, but when taken out of context, shed a negative light on me personally.
As mentioned above, everyone should expect that any thing they say or do online is accessible to anyone. What is tough to take is when online comments, articles, etc. are made on one particular site and repurposed on another out of context. Of course you can’t do anything about it because those who do this have a certain sense of entitlement and hide behind the anonymity provided by the web. Eternal Gaze//Scope’s writer Matt Hanson expecting me to speak to him in a concilitory manner if I were to contact him again. I’d already requested that he discontinue pulling XPLSV.tv reviews and posting them out of context. Matt Hanson doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong. Why Matt Hanson needs to pull RSS feeds or repurpose other sites’ content to fill up his blog is beyond me. Matt Hanson could just post a rant like this one bitching about some punk emailing him about to remove his name from his blog!

So, to sum up my rant… We all need to be aware of appearances even if they are in the form of email, forums, pictures, etc. because you never know who’s looking and you never know when your personality is going to be co-opted, and you can’t control how, where or by who either.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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