Having a Virtual Presence Online – February 2009
In the last few years many big companies have been making news by establishing a virtual presence in an online world. The most common place for businesses to do this is in Metaverses which are also called virtual worlds. They are online environments where people go to interact with each other. They are often very much like the real world but without any physical limitations. Unlike many other virtual worlds there is no game or plot. Second Life (“SL”) is the best known and most popular of all of the metaverses แทงบอลออนไลน์.
SL is also the most common place that businesses have a virtual presence. There are at least 11 million residents in second life with at least 400,000 users logging in during a 7 day period. At the present there are also over 50,000 in world business owners. Many companies like IBM already have set a presence there. Experts believe that in the future a lot of networking and even hiring could take place based on a SL reputation. You shouldn’t jump in though without bearing in several factors though.
What you should know
If you want to build a good reputation in SL you are going to have to spend significant amounts of time not only developing your online business but also your online character (known as your avatar). In SL you will be judged on the way your avatar looks, behaves and communicates. You will also have to develop profile pages. Form there you can be judged by your in-world property as well as by the ratings you receive from third party rating services.
Recently some marketers have expressed doubt about how useful SL is to a business and many are actually closing their second life shops. Spaces developed by companies have not been as popular as spaces developed by users. Many company sites are now empty and devoid of virtual staff. American Apparel has closed up shop and the Dell Island seems deserted. Some advertisers have noted that there are many problems with trying to sell products in virtual worlds since real world rules don’t apply. For example food and drink aren’t necessary and clothing is optional and so is even being a human. As one commentator has pointed out SL is about fun and innovation and it is not enough to simply move a real life business into SL: “Why should I visit the virtual store of real life clothier to buy exact copies of their actual products? Why is that fun? It’s not… In conclusion, users visit Second Life and related worlds to escape the boring world.” Keep this in mind when opening a virtual store or island on SL.
You want to avoid doing the same thing you do in the real world but make sure that what you are doing ties into your business or your SL friends will not find you in the real world. A good example of how to do this is from Nissan, which after a series of protests changed its SL presence from selling cars to an “automotive amusement park.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t expect to make a huge deal of money from your virtual brand itself but instead use this as an opportunity for promoting the brand or to get valuable feedback. The large hotel chain Starwood was never able to earn money from selling rooms in their SL hotel but instead was able to get useful ideas for their real life hotels, including the idea to add radios into their showers and to change their colour scheme to earth tones. They said that this feedback has been extremely valuable.
Another big problem for businesses is that SL is getting an unsavoury reputation for being risqué. As one reporter noted, if you tour SL the businesses are often empty whereas the casinos, brothels and strip clubs are packed. Apparently, the most frequently purchased item in SL is genitalia. Despite this it is doubtful whether your reputation will be tainted merely for having an SL presence. However, if you engage in risqué activities yourself while in SL that is another matter entirely. See later on for tips on protecting your reputation in SL.
Another problem is the dwindling number of SL residents. Although many people have accounts at any one time there is only 30,000 to 40,000 logged on. At one time it had been predicted that there would be as many as 150,000 residents logged in at any time but that has not occurred yet. For some companies there simply are not enough people to devote the necessary time it takes to build up a virtual presence. That being said SL is extremely affordable for the quality and length of time you get for your advertisement. This can make it a good ad investment provided there is a good audience to whom to market your business.