All good things come to an end. Here comes the last question of the digital marketing FAQ: Why on earth do people use sites like second life? I confess that I never went to SL. I have no avatar. I’m so old-fashioned, so 20th century,… I’m not really comfortable to talk about something I didn’t really experiment but I give it a try.
Mark Goren believes that it’s all about connections. I agree with that and would add that SL is all about connections and exploration. Second Life is the closest thing to real world possible. It’s a mean to confront behaviours and social control without taking risks. For individuals it’s the opportunity to meet new people but also to experiment new territories and behaviours they wouldn’t have in real life. Why? Because you can hide again. Second Life is somewhere between RPG and social networking. On the most popular communities, you’re supposed to be transparent about the real you and the way you meet people is somehow very structured. On Second Life, it’s OK if you pretend.
Ann Handley talked about her personal experience and it might sounds in contradiction with the lines above
EVERY kid (yeah… every!) in my daughter’s 4th grade classroom of 23 has at least one Webkinz; many have more. They trade screen names at school. They meet at each other’s virtual houses after school. They buy virtual presents for each other (…) Second Life is a hog. It’s clunky, complicated, and “inelegant,” as MarketingProfs Publisher Allen Weis would say. But it’s only the start. The technology is only going to become smoother, easier to grasp, more elegant. (go to the full post)
What Ann says is totally in line with the MTV-Microsoft study about kids, teens and technology: for them, the web can be taglined as: My mates are my media. Online communication is used to deepen real friendships while adults will try to discover new people sharing the same interests.
And for the brands? We know that so far, we cannot talk about a great match between marketing in virtual world and customers’ expectations and according to Forrester research, it will not be the most growing advertising channel. I think brands shouldn’t matter about the efficiency of virtual worlds but regard it as an exploration field, just like users do.