You can hide again


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.


15 Responses to “You can hide again”

  1. Ann Handley Says:

    I absolutely LOVE this line… “My mates are my media.”

    Absolutely brilliant.

  2. Mark Goren Says:

    Great post, Philippe. Love that you added exploration to connections. In fact, you could say that without exploration, no connections would be made.

    On another note, thanks for inspiring the series. It’s been great fun answering the questions.

  3. General Pattern Says:


    Thanks! I really see an generational gap in the way people are surfing


    This makes me think that brands on SL tend to be a little passive. I also thank you for your very active participation. Like I already wrote, I learned a lot from you.

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  5. Some minor issues Says:

    Q8: The meaning of second life

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  7. Anhara Welles Says:

    I have been on SL for…it will be a year in December. I was skeptical but decided to try it anyway. I had no idea what to expect,…but I can tell you one thing: I never expected it to be more than just a game, which I assure you, it is.

    As far as hiding from the real life, or rl as we second lifer’s call it, I suppose some do go to sites for that reason. I played The Sims2 and thought one day, what if these characters were real people instead of just a charachter in a game. And so, I started my search and ended up in SL.

    I cannot even begin to describe how much SL has benefitted my life. Before SL, I was isolated and didn’t talk to many people…I had no life, real or otherwise. I met many people in SL, some who I have since become very close to. This goes beyond the virtual aspect of things. I have made many real life friends through SL…some whom I have even met in person, only to find that they are the same person they portrayed themselves to be personality wise in-worlld. I even did something I did not expect…I found real life love in a virtual world..and after a four day drive across the country, we now live together and are doing incredibly well. We will be together a year in February.

    Why do people go to sites like SL? Yes it may be to get away from rl once in a while, we all know it can be stressful. Perhaps some even go to live the life they would want in rl, and yes by doing so it may create a fantasy world alive in their minds. I have a question for you. Why do you care what other people do and what their reasons are? I know for me, I was told that you have one life, so you might as well live it the way you want to. I would think that by spending time concerned about what other people are doing, you are taking time away from your own life. It’s your life, your choice. People have their own reasons for going to sites like SL….but if it makes them happy, doesn’t stop them from carrying on rl activities, and doesn’t hurt you or affect you in any way…what’s the harm?

  8. Melissa Says:

    I’ve used sites pre-Second Life that were actually pretty mature and well organized. But like much of everything else on the net, they either become obsolete or so overrun by teenies that they suck.

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