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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 134 -- Second Life dot Biz

Yes, you could do business in Second Life.  But there's some things they didn't tell you.

Episode 134 -- SecondLife dot Biz

Hello again, and welcome back.  Making another run at a podcast, since it's still Sunday and I don't have to work till tomorrow.  And I wanted to talk about Second Life again, and I had a topic that I thought of and thought worthwhile a ways back, and hadn't spoken about till now.

A few years ago, Linden Labs came up with the clever idea of Enterprise Second Life.  They figured they could sell Second Life to businesses, convincing them that it could really be a good place to do business.  Some companies tried it for a while.  I don't know of many still here.  Heck, I don't know of any still here.  But there might be some of which I am unaware.

Some businesses in particular would have done badly in Second Life, those businesses that came to SL expecting to sell RL, Real Life, stuff to people in Second Life.  It's possible to sell real world stuff in a virtual world, it really is.  There are tools here in SL that could be quite effective, properly used.  But if you're coming to SL for straight up sales, you need to come into it aware of what you need to do to make that work.

You have three possible audiences in Second Life.  Why three?  Because there are always three things, ask anyone.  Anyway, here are your three audiences.

First, you can sell your stuff to people in Second Life if you have stuff the people _already_ in SL are going to want to buy.  You would need to come to SL with an already compelling product, and it would have to present well in SL, and be particularly buyable via the SL environment.  There are products exactly like that.  It's certainly easier to sell in SL things that are _for_ SL.  But that doesn't happen on the scale RL businesses are used to. A thousand Lindens is about four US dollars.  That'd take you a while, just sayin'.  Content should be sellable in SL.  Books should be sellable in SL.  Movies & music should be sellable in SL.   And there are folks selling all those products in SL, to the existing SL audience.

But whatever you want to sell, you'd be assuming you're going to sell to people already _in_ Second Life.  There are between 20 and 30 million live accounts in SL altogether.  The most accounts I've ever seen logged into SL at once was around 60,000.  There's your market.  It's no Facebook.  But Facebook has it's own flaws.

So that's your first audience, folks already here.  Your second audience is your current customers.  You could convince your current customers to come to SL to interact with your company.  I suspect that'd be more doable B-to-B than B-to-C.   A business could well have their own internal uses for the SL technologies and environment.  Certainly educational institutions have used it well in the past, and their successes can inform your plans.  It's a profoundly immersive environment at it's best.  But my point about that second audience is that you have to bring them.  To a degree, for your business to succeed in Second Life, you need to work for the success of Second Life.  You bring your own audience.

The third audience is somewhat like the second.  You bring new customers to where you are, to your place in Second Life.  That could be hard work, depending on who you are and what you sell and to whom.  To a degree it's like convincing customers to come to your new store in the Mall.  You're attracting customers to you, but you're also attracting customers to the Mall.  You really can't get them to come to you in the Mall without getting them to the Mall, now can you?  I'm old enough to remember when Malls were a new phenomenon.  Up to a point people came to the Mall because they'd never been to one, because there hadn't been any.  That novelty helped the initial success of a number of businesses.

Second Life isn't new anymore.  They just had a big celebration for the 11th birthday of Second Life.  I visited the SL11B event, briefly.   There was a lot of potential there, and a bit of sadness, too.  Those of us who have participated in this most social of Social Media know that potential well.  And it's sad that so few who could make use of that potential are willing to try now.  Because... Second Life isn't new anymore. 

So, it has always been true that to succeed in any business in Second Life, you'd have to appeal to those of us already here, or bring your existing customers here, or bring new customers here.   Enterprise SL failed because, I think, Linden Labs failed to communicate the last two requirements.  In the process of shifting resources to Enterprise SL, Linden Labs pulled resources away from parts of SL that were already working well, especially education.  And when Enterprise SL fizzled, those resources were never put back where they'd been working.  Too many Enterprise SL businesses came with the idea that they could pitch their tent and the crowds would come flocking to them, with no effort on their part.  That doesn't work.  It doesn't work in RL, and it doesn't work in SL, and wishing won't make it so.  But you're smart.  You knew that already.

Could Second Life be made a productive environment for business?  Certainly it could.  I think I'll do another show explaining how smart people like you could make that happen.

Let me know what you think.  Call the comment line, hit the websites, tap me on Twitter or Facebook or, here's a crazy idea, tell me in Second Life.  I'll be around.  See ya.

Show Theme "Hot Swing" from Kevin MacLeod of

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