Kris Hoet at Belgium’s Cross the Breeze wrote recently looking for answers to eight frequently asked questions from advertisers, dealing mostly with social media and online marketing. He and Phillipe from Bad Idea, Indeed are looking for input on various issues, including these…
- How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What moderation level is acceptable?
- Are there examples of 2.0 initiatives made by traditional brands that went totally out of hand?
- Why on earth do people use sites like Second Life?
About the questions, Kris says, “I know that they might seem trivial to many of us, but they are day to day reality for many people that try to convince advertisers to try out new media.” Kris and company are posting the answers to their questions on the their own blogs as well as the Interact blog of IAB Europe Congress.
Steven Verbruggen is offering his two pesos on several of the questions. Joe Jaffe took on Kris’s first question here, with uncharacteristic brevity. The question that most intrigued me, however, was the last one.
It reminded me of HP’s Eric Kintz’s post this past week on why he remains on the sidelines of virtual worlds like Second Life. Here’s my own take on Kris’s last question:
“Why on earth do people use sites like Second Life?”
First–I can’t say I fully understand it, either. I have enough trouble finding time to empty the dishwasher in my First Life. But as Eric wrote this past week, “Second Life is another example of a web 2.0 property that marketers should explore and understand. It opens up a window into the future of 3D web.”
That’s just it: Even if you aren’t using it, others are. Or they will. For marketers, Second Life is a great place to learn what role business and brands can play in various 3D virtual environments, and (in turn) what environments like these require of them. What kinds of approaches work? What sorts of activities relate to results? It’s a test playground. A place to walk the walk… even in wobbly baby steps.
And, by the way, this applies beyond marketing and sales. There are many potential business applications in virtual worlds–including employee training and development, customer service, peer collaboration, you name it. Greg Verdino has a great take on that issue in a Q&A we did a few months ago.
Why is it important to know about 3D virtual environments? Because that’s where the Web is headed. Of course, this is only a guess. But I base that not on my own use–(see point about First Life, above!)–but by observing how my kids interact with the Internet.
Kiddie sites like Club Penguin(“Waddle around and meet new friends!”) and Webkinz (“Come in and play!”) are grooming my 10-year-old and her friends to actively and willingly seek out and embrace formats like Second Life, There.com, and any other virtual world that ultimately evolves from them.
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–her friend Hannah sent my daughter Caroline a swimming pool for her backyard.
It’s cute. It’s quaint. But it’s also becoming the status quo for how a whole generation of kids is interacting with the Web. To Caroline, 2D Web sites are “boring.” She complains, “There’s nothing to do on them.”
Second Life is a hog. It’s clunky, complicated, and “inelegant,” as MarketingProfs Publisher Allen Weiss would say. But it’s only the start. The technology is only going to become smoother, easier to grasp, more elegant.
And when it does… well, there’s a whole generation of users who will be ready for it. The question is–will you?
Tags: 3D_Internet, Allen_Weiss, Ann_Handley, Club_Penguin, Eric_Kintz, First_Life, Greg_Verdino, Kids, Kris_Hoet, Marketing, online_advertising, online_marketing, Second_Life, social_media, tweens, Webkinz, Web_2.0