Second Life, a communicator’s dream tool

           

 Second Life has added another element to the exploding social media scene.  If you’re someone like me, you’ve heard of Second Life (SL) but know little about the extensive virtual online community.  Well, here is my chance to educate myself and others about the professional and personal benefits of SL. 

            Second Life was created by Linden Research Inc. which is more commonly known as Linden Lab.  Linden Lab officially launched SL in 2003.  Second Life is a web based virtual world that resembles the video game “Sim City.”  Sim City is a video game that allows users to build cities and characters in the game.  However the resecondlifelogo.jpgsemblance of Sim City is just in concept only.  Second Life takes the Sim City platform and exploits it to the absolute advantage of the user (resident).  Imagine having the ability to live all of your fantasies in a virtual world or create a virtual world that closely mirrors your real life (RL).  Well SL makes the impossible – possible to all residents.  Second Life, is just that – it is living your life in a virtual online community.

            This new social media tool goes beyond the blogsphere, MSN, Facebook, twitter and online chat rooms combined. So what is SL really?  I’m glad you asked.  Second Life gained mass media attention in 2006.  Second Life is a free 3D downloadable program where residents create their world as they see fit.  Most residents create characters (avatars) that do not resemble their RL features and status in any way.  They do this so they can live another life; call it their second life if you will.  Avatars interact with one another through exclusive group events, social meetings, virtual companies and even concerts.         

           When Second Life was created, it was widely viewed as a personal application for leisure only.  Nevertheless, that concept has changed as corporate communicators and public relations practitioners have taken this social media application to the next level – business use.  A good example of this is how Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. uses SL for PR.  Harlequin’s Digital Content and Interactivity Manager, Jenny Bullough, is a PR practitioner that uses SL to increase the profile of Harlequin.  For instance, she is able to hold book launches, Victorian balls (that coincide with some Harlequin novels), live-audio author readings and events geared towards aspiring writers.  In a recent interview I had with Bullough, she described having a virtual presence on SL has increased Harlequin’s profile among many potential and loyal consumers.  For instance, she is not confined to geographic boundaries.  In other words, her special events, workshops and author readings are accessible to everyone on SL regardless where they are living in the world.           

            Another PR practitioner has found SL to be instrumental in the communications world.  In fact, in late 2006, Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal of My PR Pro, predicted SL would take corporate communications to the next level.  She arrived to this conclusion because many established corporations such as IBM, Telus, BMW and Reebok have created elaborate thriving businesses on SL that continue to grow.  Huyse says most of these corporations have developed strong internal communications over SL and also manage to assist external customers like you and I.  She also says “Communications Overtones” has a group that meets once a month on SL and the group they’ve created is called “Second Thursday on Second Life.”  Just like the social media phenomenon Third Tuesday’s in RL.           

             Real life companies have developed a strong online presence because they want to stay connected to their readers and customers.  An article published in the New York Times, says companies are realizing the power of SL and they notice some demographics of the overall population love spending money on this online platform.  So as PR practitioners it makes perfect business sense to create a virtual presence.  Many communicators have experienced heightened brand recognition of their products and an increase in their sales because of SL.  If SL life is the wave of the future, now is the time to jump in before the “hype” dies down.  Nevertheless, many practitioners urge, in order to have a successful presence in SL, the company must research the market before jumping into this space.

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~ by Natasha C. on March 20, 2008.

7 Responses to “Second Life, a communicator’s dream tool”

  1. Natasha, I invite you (and any others who wish to join us) to our Life 2.0 Summit Spring which is a six-day conference held in Second Life on the islands of CMP. Produced by UBM (United Business Media) Metaverse division, we bring businesses, educators, technologists, futurists, and business developers together for a week filled with panels, keynotes and discussions. There are two days left, and you can view the program and register to attend at http://www.life20.net/.

  2. WHOA!!

  3. A friend of mine started telling me a story, and it was getting so convoluted and interesting, I looked at her and said, “WOW! When did this happen! Oh my…what did you do?” (Albeit with much skepticism that it actually happened.) Only for her to answer back, “No! No! No! This is in my Second Life! Geez.”

    The premise of this platform works, and marketers are definitely going to have a ball with this. I understand the concept of this virtual world, and living out your fantasies…but seriously, I want to live in my first life. This life. I think our desire to live outside ourselves is OK, as long as you preface all crazy SL stories with “In my second life…” So that people such as myself are aware of your situation 😉

    The fact that major corporations are jumping on board is a fascinating concept. Amazing. Target people not only in their first life, but their second life too! What a concept.

    Great topic Natasha! 🙂

  4. Wow indeed.
    Like I said in my posting, SL really took communications and PR to the next level. We can reach our target audiences like there is no boundary and set up our venues according to our wildest imagination.
    However, there are still the technology barriers Linden Lab needs to resolve if they want Second Life to reach out to more homes around the globe.

  5. SL is the wave of the future. I’m impressed how communicator’s, multinational corporations, multi-million dollar rap stars and others are using this space. It is an encouraging trend for PR and I don’t imagine this platform disappearing any time soon.

  6. Wow this is really interesting..cool. The graphics are so cool..how do they do that?? It seems like a great tool something else people could use to communicate ideas and concepts when it’s harder to come together for example people on various parts of the globe. What if most of our interactions (business and other big group activiites)happen in the virtual world like Second life? What would happen to our face-to-face communication? Something to think about also.

  7. You now, Second Life *is* a great tool for PR and communications, amongst other things. The name is certainly a misnomer. I don’t think Linden Lab ever envisioned the platform turning into what it has today. It does have a long way to go in regard to improving the client interface, however, at our now recent Life 2.0 conference, we had over 2100 people register. We had amazing audiences and great people from all types of businesses, institutions and a mix of positions ranging from CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, IT, marketing managers, public relations managers, to strategic innovators (some amazing titles), application and engineering specialists. I think with this kind of showing and attendance, one can say that yes, this is a very good tool to reach out with. I do believe that if one “thinks” this is a “Second Life”, they need to investigate a little more closely 🙂 Drop in and see us on CMP1-4 in Second Life. We’re frequently there in our avatar forms, while working on our desktops. Ciao!

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