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!

I Will Not Be Your Twitter Whore

There’s a lot of uptake on Twitter in recent months. The service that allows folks to tell the world what they are doing in 140 charachters or less has become the new playground of marketing types looking for the next big thing. Now let me say that I love Twitter. I love finding out what my Twitter friends are up to whether it’s a new aspirations or what they really think about a topic.

The great thing about Tweets like this is that it makes you feel like you know the person on the other hand. It’s a vast global playground where people are swinging on swings and sliding down slides and just having fun. They are having conversation.

We had this big global conversation a few years back when marketers were trying to figure out how to leverage this new blogging fad. It was so raw and real, and folks were transparent. It challenged traditional PR types to think differently. The problem is that these same PR folks may have learned about blogging but instantly regress to old habits in other forms of Web 2.0.

In the end, the conversation is still the important thing.

Lately, Twitter marketers have taken to using this global instant messaging service to promote their products, their political candidates, their new service without much thought to those of us who were on the ground floor of Twitter (defined here as pre-SXSW ’07) and using it for it’s purpose.

Robert Scoble said somewhere that he loved Twitter because it was where he could have a window into the minds of early adopters. And this is true. In the end though, traditional marketing types have failed to realize that it’s not the tool that matters. Use a blog, use Twitter, use MySpace. I don’t care! The tool matters not. What matters is the conversation.

Treating my time and my focus as a cheap trick is not winning me over to your thing. I don’t care if John Edwards is using Twitter. I will not come to your event if I have to see it promoted on Twitter. Period. End of story. I am not your whore. If you want my trime, at least buy me a drink and lets spend some quality time first.

You may use Web 2.0 tools, but Web 2.0 is not the answer to marketing. Conversations and relationships are. Use Twitter for what it was intended.

Is Your Marketing Premise Faulty?

Yesterdays Feedburner report surrounding reader engagement has left me with a lot of questions about assumptions and premises that we take for granted. I blogged about the report, but let me take a few minutes to ask some deeper questions.

To date, the assumption has been made that a site producing content is the nexus of all activity surrounding that content. With that premise, we have developed all our technologies, marketing strategies and SEO techniques around sending traffic to and around the site. In fact, most of bloggers ad revenue is formulated around CPM (impression based ads), CPC (click based ads) and to some degree CPA (affiliate, sales-based ads) which cater to traffic to and around a site. One has to wonder how these ad models could be used any other way, and that question would be valid. You see, if the premise is faulty, everything we do based on that premise will also be faulty. Continue reading