What Are The Best Practices For Real-Life Businesses In Second Life? - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
4/16/2007
11:19 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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What Are The Best Practices For Real-Life Businesses In Second Life?

I've lost count of the number of real-life businesses that have opened shop in Second Life. While many are doing it as a publicity stunt, some companies are taking it seriously. IBM, AOL and, well, us, come to mind here. They're in Second Life as a long-term investment, both of financial resources and of time spent by employees learning the ins and outs of this new medium. Which has gotten me to thinking: What are the best practices for real-life businesses in Second Life?

I've lost count of the number of real-life businesses that have opened shop in Second Life. While many are doing it as a publicity stunt, some companies are taking it seriously. IBM, AOL and, well, us, come to mind here. They're in Second Life as a long-term investment, both of financial resources and of time spent by employees learning the ins and outs of this new medium. Which has gotten me to thinking: What are the best practices for real-life businesses in Second Life?

I'm interested in what you think. Here's some notes off the top of my head:

Look at it as a learning experience and a long-term investment. Second Life is the best glimpse we have so far of what the whole Internet will look like in years to come.. The net will certainly have a three-dimensional interface by then, and avatars -- little 3D representations of our own selves -- are likely to be how we get around. Second Life lets you learn what works and what doesn't work in using the 3D Internet as an interface for users, customers, and business partners.

Measure your results. What do you want to achieve? Brand awareness? Traffic to a particular area? Sales? Second Life allows you to do some extraordinary measurements of traffic and avatar movements in areas you own, use those tools to measure the effectiveness of your in-world campaign.

Engage in the world. It's not enough to just build something in-world, you have to have your staff available to interact with SL residents. That's possibly the most important thing. Second Life, like Soylent Green, is people; if your people don't use what you build in SL, nobody else will either.

Don't expect big paybacks up-front. There's only a couple of hundred thousand people worldwide dedicated to using Second Life. The maximum capacity of an individual region is 30-50 simultaneous users. It'll take a while for revenues to become significant. You're in it for the long term.

What do you think are the best practices for real-world companies doing business in Second Life? What real-world companies do you see doing a great job doing business in SL? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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