Marketers Live in Alternate Realities, erm, Second Life

I’m a pretty well known guy. I like that. It’s odd, at times, particularly at conferences or meetups where people I don’t know introduce themselves, “Hey, aren’t you that Technosailor guy?” Despite being known in tech and the social media scene, I never claimed to be PR-oriented, despite Geoff Livingstone calling this blog the top blog of that type in the DC Area. I still give Geoff the business for that. :-)

Unfortunately for Geoff, yet very fortunate to me – in my eyes – I am no rock star in the PR and Marketing communities. I do my own PR. I do my own Marketing. I do okay, but I’m not a rock star. In terms of that industry, I am but a nobody, a peon. I am guessing most everyone else falls into the same category.


Photo by Danilo “Maso” Masotti

I’m guessing that most people also don’t know about or pay attention to Second Life, the alternate reality digital world that marketers have obsessed over for several years now. Second Life is a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Users create “avatars” that represent themselves or an alternate reality, purchase land and goods, build things and generally follow whatever path they want that might or might not reflect real lives in “first life”.

Marketers have swooned over this as it allows them to build virtual representations of their companies, events and people. It’s supposedly a great way to market in an alternate life to a subculture that is the Second Life group.

But that’s the kicker. It’s a subculture of reality. Yet hours and hours are spent along with immeasurable dollar values to market in this arena and I question the ROI. I have no issue with a moderate use of Second Life. But if you attend Ad Tech or any of the marketing groups in the DC area, and I venture elsewhere as well, you’ll find that Second Life is the only thing being talked about. Way too much is being invested in this thing.

I’m telling you folks, reality calls!

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

7 thoughts on “Marketers Live in Alternate Realities, erm, Second Life”

  1. Groan! I’ll never live that down. You have the best marketing voice because you are authentic. That means more in this realm than anything else.

    I agree Second Life is to close to no life at this point to be a real play. That being said, I will monitor Second Life to see how the world evolves. If the interface becomes easier and more natural, if the interaction becomes more natural, I can see it taking off.

  2. Aaron,

    I’ve never heard of second life and will look into it. Thanks for the info. I’d imagine you’d have to know what these people in second life do in reality for the marketing to be effective. Unless… is it branding?

  3. Aaron, I have to agree with Geoff. You’re effective because you’re genuine and real. You don’t talk down to people or use fancy (ahem…meaningless…) buzzwords. That kind of marketing is rare, especially in the social media world — and it’s a shame, because the success of social media ultimately relies on genuine human connection, despite what some marketing “gurus” might say.

    As for SL, I’ve never used it and never will. My “first life” is busy enough, and the real people in it deserve my undivided attention. ;-)

  4. Aaron, hush yo’ mouth. You’re a great marketer.

    As for 2nd Life, I think that it’s good if you’re trying to reach a particular demo. We PR/social media “gurus” (tee hee) can get so wrapped up in our web 2.0 universe that we forget that it’s predominantly comprised of X,Y, and Z types of people with certain levels of education, income and of course, the currency of the social butterfly. That’s kind of a narrow niche. Second Life is cool for the escapists. I don’t play there. I’ve never played The Sims. I do, however, read the Superficial, so I’m not saying I’m above anyone. And I do think http://www.getafirstlife.com is really freaking hilarious.

  5. As with most emerging applications the monetization scheme is not clear. But similar things were said about regular websites or blogs years ago.

    One angry parent telling off his kid for wasting a gazilion hours on Myspace and the kid ended up paying for his dad mortgage.

    On occasions not minding strict ROI metrics pays off. It’s kind of what happens with Research & Development activities.

  6. I’ve heard that a lot of companies have invested time and money establishing a presence in second life. Most have claimed that it was a waste of time and money. On the other hand, there are inviduals that make their living off of Second Life, investing in virtual real estate, selling virtual products, etc. I think it you have the time and money, it may be worth looking into.

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