I find it interesting that many people who I talk to concerning their project within Second Life don’t have a clear strategy for building and maintaining successful brands, builds and projects. Many seem to go at it until there’s some success paired with a prevalent Angles in the Outfield Theory (“If you build it, they will come”) that exists throughout Second Life, even among large groups and corporations. Having a beautifully built space or a really great idea doesn’t provide any clout unless a message and idea of clearly conveyed. Through my experience in Second Life, I’ve learned some lessons as to what a successful strategy entails, here’s what I’ve found to be several key elements.
I cannot stress the “Engagement” word enough. Your brand, project, build, whatever must engage others within Second Life. In order to be successful you must encourage participation and interaction with your brand. This means your target demographic should be using your content, brand, or area. Encouragement of sales should not be the end goal, successful brands have parties, contests, and their products or spaces in uses beyond Second Life, such as pictures that appear on Flickr. You should be sponsoring outside events, promoting events, highlighting important aspects of your brand. Your items become organic: living, breathing things that others use.
No man is an island. In today’s Second Life, no one designer or content creator can do it all. I’ve found collaborations, pairing your skills with someone else’s skills or having two stores on the same sim or to adjoin sims, really helps brands and projects grow. Collaborations should be complementary, a skin designer and a clothing designer collaborating seems to make a lot of sense, however to skin designers who focus in the same market may be redundant and confusing.
Collaborations come in many shapes and sizes, it’s not about having a storefront all of the time, it could be through event hosting, promotional items, renting popular sims or collaborative building. Be mindful of the way you collaborate, they should be fair amongst the collaborators and not one sided.
Setting Long Term Goals
It’s frustrating to see something begin in Second Life and end because of a lack of attention. Very rarely does any one brand see overnight success in Second Life (or the Internet.) Long term goals and milestones should be met. It roughly takes 3 to 6 months for a brand to gain momentum. In a year, a successful brand should have met many if not all of its initial goals and provide enough stability to venture forward.
These goals should recognize that many spaces in Second Life are crowded. There are plenty of designers, DJ’s, and builders within the space. Any goal should reflect an understanding that a brand must penetrate through a sea of other items.
I’ve previous mentioned several avenues of promotion within Second Life (Part 1, and Part 2). All of the promotion in the world will not help if you are not communicating clearly and effectively to your audience. While promotion is a huge part of an effective strategy, I’ve found that effective communication is more valuable as it is the crux of any promotion. This begins with clear, coherent websites, blogs or communication portals that provide information in a coherent and organized manner. Many times, Second Life related blogs or websites are so jumbled up, everything gets lost in a sea of information.
Even within Second Life, there are builds and areas that are not clearly designed. Notecards, IM’s, and notices should not be ‘spammy’, they should be short, clear, and simple messages that also provide a sense of hospitality. Welcome messages are nice, but unless they contain some important information, they are annoying.
Many of these strategies described above are similar to those for building effective websites, and having social media engagement, or successful strategies in general, they are the crux to many successful projects within Second Life. Anyone interested in working within the virtual world space must remember that these are living, breathing organisms that other people interact with and use. Before creating the next big thing, I recommend rethinking your current strategy along these lines to evaluate your projects.