Tuesday, November 03, 2009

« Korean Company Developing Multitouch Metaverse Screen Interface For OpenSim/Second Life | Main | Leading Blog for Metaverse/Second Life Art Suspended »

How To Make Second Life Truly Mass Market, Part 1: Deep Integration With Facebook

Flat growth of Second Life

The latest official economic stats for Second Life are now available, and they tell a mixed picture: while user-to-user transactions continue to grow, the absolute number of unique users does not. After a steady growth period at the start of the year, monthly unique repeat SL users have plateaued to around 750K. In his report, Linden Chief Product Officer T. Linden suggests this flat growth is the result of the new policy (imposed last May) banning Traffic-gaming bots.

That may well be the case, but what's undeniable is that Secnd Life is still struggling to become a virtual world with mass market status. By way of comparison, consider today's largest virtual world: YoVille, from Zynga, a web-based MMO played in Facebook and MySpace. Only launched in May 2008, it now counts nearly 20 Million unique monthly active users on Facebook alone. (Making it much larger than not just World of Warcraft, but web-based MMOs like Habbo.)

There are a number of reasons for YoVille's rapid and sustained growth, but one in particular stands out: Deep integration with leading social networks, especially Facebook with its 300 million active users. This explains how YoVille managed to grow so speedily, for its appeal is not just the virtual world itself (cartoonish and simple as it is), but the desire to play it with Facebook friends. "At their most fundamental level," Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, recently told me, social network-based games like YoVille "are games that you can play with real people with real identities."

I recently wrote about how mass adoption is so crucial to Second Life, and at the time, I promised to offer suggestions for making that possible. Taking YoVille's success as a reference point, my first recommendation is this: Second Life needs deep integration with Facebook.

YoVille avatars with real life Facebook accounts

I don't mean a mere SL-related Facebook Application (those exist already), but integration across all channels, starting with the very first SL signup page, which should accept Facebook account credentials.

Doing this would associate new Residents with their Facebook page, which generally contain many of their real life details. In that way, the subsequent SL avatar would have a subordinate status, after the owners' real name and autobiographical details. (As with my YoVille avatar friends, at left, who are automatically linked to their Facebook profiles.)

Philip Linden often says that someday, Internet users will feel obligated to use an online avatar that's somehow distinct from the actual owner. However, with the largest virtual world (and other leading social games) the exact opposite is the case: the most popular avatar types are explicit extensions of an already existing real world identity.

Or to put it another way: to gain mass growth, Second Life may have to abandon the expectation that new users adopt a whole separate personality. As YoVille and other top social games (which now count 100 million+ users) suggest, most people prefer avatars that are firmly linked to their first lives.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf74053ef0120a6a34223970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How To Make Second Life Truly Mass Market, Part 1: Deep Integration With Facebook:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

DrFran Babcock

SL will never be popular with big business as long as 60 avatars crash the sim. Another model is needed for scaling. When I read Snow Crash I marveled at the numbers of avatars huddled together.

Peter Stindberg

Are we talking about the same Facebook that does officially not allow avatars as users and has been known to suspend those accounts?

This is called SECOND life, and many people take the "second" literal and create a second existance, often not linked to their RL personas.

Ioki

I hate face book, I don't want sl to be anything to do with Facebook. I believe SL could do with perhaps creating two sides to SL,

one just devoted to the social aspect which can be about connecting to groups, social networks, and shopping

Second the creative content side for those who wonna make things happen for those social shopping types.

The viewer should be able to change to accomodate the sort of user you are.
1. The browser config that is real simple, only the option you need to socialise and shop. This simplified user experience can then be implimented in web browsers?

2. The pro user browser config with all creative options.

We see this kind of thing in other companys like apple, adobe.

2.

Henri Morlaye

Facebook and web integration is so obviously mandatory for mass market adoption of virtual worlds. SL walled garden goes straight in the wall. At A WORLD FOR US we are right now creating a good web and facebook embeddable web 3D solution with http://www.assemblive.com . Still in beta stage though but we definitely want to solve the problem of companies stuck in SL but willing to explore immersive 3D and social networks convergence.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Peter, while I like the creative freedom of SL as it now exists, maybe we old folks just don't "get" 18-22 year olds.

90% of the time, my students want avatars that reflect their appearance as closely as possible IRL.

I suspect that the Millennial Generation, characterized by demographers as questing for "authenticity" and, in my experience, "creeped out" by those who conceal their RL identities, would flock to a VW where the vast majority of avatars would be richly linked to who they are IRL.

They have been drilled into believing and repeating "the sad creep in mom's basement" meme.

My students have not, in any of my SL-assisted classes, put RL info into their SL profiles. They understand that while they have no privacy, they do have power over disclosure. And they don't disclose much in a world w/o security as to who they are encountering.

I'll ask about YoVille today in class.

AnnOtooleInSL

So this is Klingdon's next big idea Hamlet?
Is this why Amanda is trying to shovel real life identity exposure onto SL? Because facebook doesn't allow pen names?

Newsflash: Yoville is already there duh. LMAO

Yes the regions have to be returned to supporting 100 avatars. So LL needs to start chopping out all that lag inducing crap they added that no customers asked for. And LL needs to scale SL and begin marketing it for entertainment purposes. As for "Nebraska" LL should have spun off a separate company/division for that and let it grow on it's own. SL is about entertainment. Trying to change SL into a meeting room is a fatal error.

Metacam Oh

All my friends, family, etc on Facebook are having a great time playing boring stuff like Yoville and Farmville when a greater world exists. Create the portal and they will come.

Deltango Vale

Hermes, Rolex and YSL are not interested in the mass market. Perhaps Linden Lab should focus on quality instead of quantity.

Tymmerie Thorne

What Deltango Vale said!! Times 100,000,000!!!

Giulio Prisco

I just tried Yoville, unbelievably boring.

I wish to see options for much deeper integration between SL and the 2D Web. Facebook, Linkedin... and, of course, Google Wave, which imo is where a lot of action is going to be. Wave is developer-friendly, and there are already groups of SLers on Wave.

Arcadia Codesmith

I think Facebook integration would be okay. The whole secret identity thing is a headache, but maybe some negotiation with Facebook would permit anonymous avatar pages (anonymous to other users; I think Linden Labs should have RL names and addresses for every resident).

The bigger issue I see is the disparate system requirements. Facebook will run on just about anything that can connect to the web. The same is true of most of their cheesy apps. SL, on the other hand... not so much.

Which means we'd get a big influx of people logging on, experiencing 3 fps, and deciding that SL is the pits before they ever make it to the Graphics Options screen.

Lalo Telling

I begin to surmise why Philip resigned: disgust.

Mass market = lowest common denominator.

Do we really want Second Life to degrade itself from the "National Geographic" of virtual worlds to yet another supermarket-checkout pop-culture rag?

JeanRicard Broek

To facilitate integration with web 2.0 & Facebook I would first propose that LL's new "2.0 Viewer be open source (I am afraid it may not be) & support both browser functionality and 3D windows in one common program. This combo viewer/browser design is unlike now, were everyone thinks you can only fit a viewer into a browser via a browser plugin or place the browser into a 3D viewer by way of HTML on a prim or a separate popup window as we currently have.

Imagine Chrome or Firefox having full browser code and SL viewer code in one single download, separate but in one app. Imagine the basic browser interface. By opening a new tab, you could be in a web page, open a second tab and you can be in 3D space(SL or OpenSim for example) open 3, 4 tabs as many as you want.

Imagine cut and paste. Imagine a rich sidebar placed like Google reader but instead it is a frame for plugin widgets/apps, sized like cellphone apps, linkable to the open main window for inventory, chat, avatar profiles etc.

Imagine the battle of which is better 2D or 3D ending. Imagine both living & working together as equal partners, each with their own strengths. Maybe then we can bridge the divide between facebook and SL.

The technologies are all here already, the core components of this simple framework are all in production & the code is all open source.

For more detail see my post and the suggestion made to the realXtend GUI team here: http://jeanricardbroek-architect.blogspot.com/2009/10/proposed-new-open-viewer-platform.html

Thynka Little

Many Facebook friends have suggested that they would like Farmville recreated in Second Life.

Pyewacket Bellman

How about the Google model? Don't worry about making money for the investors until the product is ready for prime time.

Another thing - Facebook. "It's a cookbook." You've been warned.

Camille Serpentine

Again your comparison of figures is skewed.
Your user graph is monthly for just Jan-Sept2009 and your previous entry about user to user $transactions was quarterly for Q1 2006 to Q2 2009.

A better comparison would be all the users from 2006 to 2009 with the user to user $transaction data of the same period.

It is hard to take you seriously when you don't use statistics correctly.

Mr Potato Head

Making SL appealing to Facebook users would be a good move. It's just questionable whether the SL viewer could be made light enough to run smoothly on a weak laptop and still be appealing.

Facebook users have very weak computers. And many of the users are likely to be using hand held devices in the future, so their machines are going to be getting even weaker.

Still, Facebook is definitely a crowd that's worth trying to appeal to. I'm all for less anonymity and role play in SL.

Opensource Obscure

I'm glad that Linden Lab didn't build Second Life's future upon other services's success.

YEAH TODAY EVERYBODY USES FACEBOOK. But what if in 12-18 months another service (or a combination of services) puts Facebook out of the game, like Facebook previously did with MySpace?

Tristin M

Second life has gone from leading.. to following not a step in the right direction at all.

Vax Sirnah

I think you are on the right track here, but I actually think that the idea is not expansive enough. Second Life needs to be able to plug into social media of all forms. We should be able to easily create and consume tweets, RSS feeds, blogs, Google Wave, etc. while in world. Conversely, things out in the cloud should be able to easily contact avatars/objects in world. That means robust APIs for SL-Net communication.

Part of the problem is that SL is an island. It's an immersive environment - it's supposed to block out the rest of the world. But the world isn't moving towards that - they are moving towards co-existence in several virtual environments (people have the web, IM, twitter, facebook, etc all open at the same time). SL needs to break out of that and become a part of the landscape. Possibly by providing client-end integration for a lot of this (you can already log into IRC from Emerald. Why not AIM?). Maybe just have a tabbed interface like someone above suggested. Or expand the HUD capabilities of the clients so that you can make HUDs that talk to the client directly and call the web directly.

Or maybe work on getting other services to inetgrate SL features - like being able to Digg places in world, or post SLURLs directly to Delicious or Facebook.

The enterprise end of SL is fine and dandy, but it's the personal use of SL that makes it viable. Make SL more attractive to people and companies will follow.

soror nishi

I am on facebook, but have to say that the garbage increases exponentially with every passing day.
I think it will be surpassed and would have no interest in lowering the quality of SL to attract more "viewers", that is exactly what TV has done. It is now virtually unwatchable.

More is seldom better.

YoVille....? you HAVE to be kidding me.... surely.

Eladrienne Laval

While integration with Facebook might not be the answer, I can see how games like YoVille appeal to some folks. Might seems cheesy to SL folks, but maybe for the average user it's like a netbook: It's just what they want without the bells and whistles. I talked about this in my blog about a month or so ago:

http://elinsl.blogspot.com/2009/09/elle-in-yoville-virtual-worlds-and-ease.html

Sure, Facebook has the numbers that LL might like to tap into, but what I found was that one of the most appealing things to those I know who love YoVille (or FarmVille, etc.) is its ease of use. Easy interface, simple to use and run and no problem to jump right into it with friends that you already know. Rather than concentrating on Facebook itself, maybe that is something LL needs to think more about.

Merlynn

And what happens when Facebook goes the way of MySpace? It may be popular today, but next year there will be some other hot great new app that you just HAVE to TRY!
I'm convinced that the RL economic meltdown is directly due to people spending way too much time plurking, facebooking, tweeting, myspacing, plunking, and skreeing and never got any work done.

Hamlet Au

I agree, Eladrienne, but I think that LL and third party developers can work on both Facebook integration and a simplified interface. (Will talk more about the latter in later posts.)

"I think it will be surpassed and would have no interest in lowering the quality of SL to attract more 'viewers', that is exactly what TV has done"

Two more things to know about YoVille: a lot of its users are women in their 30s and 40s and also teens, so it's reaching a broader cros section than SL. And even as rudimentary as it is, it's already developed a market for user-generated content. The YoVille developers tell me they discovered that people were using the in-game whiteboard object to create art-- and selling it to other users. See a similar ecosystem of UGC in FarmVille, check it out:

http://www.wonderlandblog.com/wonderland/2009/10/farmville-art.html

Hamlet Au

"YEAH TODAY EVERYBODY USES FACEBOOK. But what if in 12-18 months another service (or a combination of services) puts Facebook out of the game, like Facebook previously did with MySpace?"

Ms. Obscure: That would be fine, because the SL account will have already been created and the user acquired. Though I find it highly unlikely that Facebook is going away any time soon. 300 MILLION ACTIVE ACCOUNTS. If they lost a million users every month, they'd lose half their total customer base... in TWELVE YEARS. And still have 150 million users.

Crap Mariner

Why would any major social network partner with LL/SL?

What benefit is it to them to shift attention away from their socnet to the immersive time-sink that is SL?

-ls/cm

Hamlet Au

Crap, for the same reason Facebook partners with Xbox, dozens of game developers, etc. etc. Though you're right that FB will probably demand some/most SL integration drive traffic into the social network. Which strongly suggests SL needs a web-based embed aspect. But that's a conversation for another post.

Talia Tokugawa

Hmm few points come up here.
Someone said about SL having facebook style applications?
Does Tiny Empires, Psion chickens, and that damn Vampire game not remind you in anyway of facebook applications?
step one: join game...
step two: try sign all your friends up to said game.
step three: spam whatever communication routes you have available to try get more people to sign up.

I recently joined facebook after a very long time of steering well clear of it. My main reason for steering clear was the amount of time I wasted trying to sort out friends computers with viruses, malware and other nasties. After some research into what ever the issues were I was finding a large number of the issues were using Facebook/Myspace as a primary delivery vector.

I did eventually cave in however and besides suddenly finding that I have been able to fill the facebook shaped hole that was in my web presence (koinup > flickr/facebook & digg > twitter/facebook), I also got sucked into several of the game apps, rendering my wall a spam filled nightmare of requests to join X game.

Maybe this isn't the best of comments I don't really have a view one way or the other. I really do want more SL users, but at the same time I don't want to render SL unusable through stupid subgame requests and making it a larger target for the shadier side of the internet. (maybe viruses and malware are not such an issue for sl but content theft certainly is in the news a lot recently)

Tal's slightly rambley two pence ;)

Fogwoman Gray

Watching newcomers arriving in our Gateway in Caledon, I am struck by the fact that the first thing folks want to do is edit appearance.
I will admit to being older than the demographic that I suspect many of these companies are chasing, I have to say that I am initially turned off by the apparent requirement that I spend my time in their world resembling a Bratz doll. My few ventures into other places ended after struggling to make an avatar that did not look like a cartoon bimbo, and the inevitable flood of spam filling my inbox from said company. Again, I suspect I do not represent the demographic being courted here :)
I just joined Facebook, but I admit to having become quite spoiled by the richness of communication in SL, despite all the challenges. Being confronted with a page of spam for various apps being run by people on my friends list and the "twitter" of sound bytes leaves me pretty cold.
We shall see what evolves, it should be interesting.

Ariane Brodie

You should change the title of this entry to "How To COMPLETELY RUIN Second Life, Part 1: Deep Integration With Facebook"

Facebook follows a philosophy I like to call "Online Utopianism". The exact opposite is called "Role Playerism"

A very large chunk of SL's core audience is into Role Play of one form or another. The name Second Life implies role playing, its even part of its mission statement. Second Life has been making many moves away from role play for a couple of years now to attract a more mainstream audience.

So far they have not made a move that would alienate the role players, as they continue to flock to SL, but facebook integration would pretty much do it.

Have you forgotten that FB has cancelled accounts of people using their SL name?

coco

facebook is doomed when it must monetize without selling all its users daily minutes of product doings.... cause somebody will sue der asses....

Aol 3.0 26 million, 200 million - it all goes in a weekend in the networked world...

dont you all get that yet.?

Hamlet Au

"A very large chunk of SL's core audience is into Role Play of one form or another."

Ariane, you're right there's a lot of them, but probably not the majority -- maybe 20-30% at most. In any case, there's nothing to preclude roleplayers from sharing the same SL space with Facebook folks. There's already a bunch of real world-oriented educators/organizations who use SL, and they mainly get along fine with the roleplayers.

"Have you forgotten that FB has cancelled accounts of people using their SL name?"

That seems to be a very sporadic thing, mainly happening if you have an obviously exotic Facebook name. I still have a lot of Facebook friends who are avatars.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

The verdict from fifteen first-year college students about RL and SL conflation:

--13 prefer anonymity for avatars as an option
--1 prefers RL identification
--1 absent

--1 uses YoVille and loves it. 2 other have heard of it. All of them have Facebook accounts.

Salient quotations:

"Um...do the NWN readers (read, old geezers) realize how much anonymity that Facebook permits?" (noting that none of the class use their RL names in their profiles)

"An Ethernet cord is not convenient. If it won't run on a laptop on wireless, I won't do it."

"Not everyone can afford an Alienware desktop to see this stuff."

"If businesses want RL identifications, let them build their own virtual worlds."

Go, students! Half of them reported using FB to plan group-activities for SL, as it relates to doing assignments.

Brenda Connolly

More and more of RL's garbage is being dragged into SL each day. Soon enough it will make SL merely a redundancy for RL. There will be no need to bother with it.

ColeMarie Soleil

Facebook + SL = TOTALLY win

Anyone who thinks it's even remotely a bad idea?
>.<
*stabs self repeatedly*

Koinup Burt

Hamlet,

completely agree with you that Second Life has to reach a mass adoption and that a web-deep integration with Facebook could gain millions of users to LL database. BUT

There is a large hostacle to the success of this move. Basically, Facebook is the hanghout for our real identity. People are in FB to showcase, hookup, promote and get friends for their "FirstLives"
Moreover, Facebook has been the first social network that reinforced the concept of our real identity. Myspace, and many other hadn't this approach and indeed they are populated by millions of people that are on there with nicknames, fictious names, etcetc..

At the same time, Second Life is the apotheosis of "nick name" culture. You have to register with a fictitious name, you have to pick a name from a list of already exhisting "gentes". All the first wave of second life has been based on the theme of "second lives".

They said: "Escape from the boring first life, create a world with your imagination.....

yes, sure it sounds as a fashinatingperspective, but then, you can't think people finally arrive in Second Life and "invite their RL friends".

All the plans of M Linden, at least some months ago, were about people from Second Life inviting their (rl) friends and (web) social connections to join Second Life as well. (there is a long talk at metanomics all around this topic)

Yes, it make sense.....but, there are no chances that this could happen. Because when you enter Second Life, you build a second identity, starting with a fictitious name and continuing with many other "escaping" features....

Would you love to integrate with Facebook? Yes, sure you can. They have a tool, there, called: Facebook Connect, that is a really powerful tool to connect your website with Facebook.

The only drawback is that people have to login in your website by using their Facebook identity .......no more AEON, Barbosa and hundreds of others fictious names....

I think that such a moove would have sense, it would make Second Life more appealing for milions of people. Just I think that its not only a problem of integration. But also we're talking about a whole vision of what Second Life is, and how the brand is perceived by their users.

If they allow real names to be used in the registration procedure, I think that it will create a large issue with people that are already registered with their sl names.

ArianeB

"Ariane, you're right there's a lot of them, but probably not the majority -- maybe 20-30% at most. In any case, there's nothing to preclude roleplayers from sharing the same SL space with Facebook folks."

Depends on your definition of role play. If you pretend to be someone you aren't, if your avatar looks nothing like you, I'd consider that role play, even though you are not playing an organized game.

Real life is filled with a lot of role players too. Roles that are thrust upon us by societal norms. Escaping the forced roles and replacing it with our own creative roles is kind of the whole point.

In my experience, the typical "Facebook" crowd does not understand this. They are the ones reporting people wearing child avatars for being under age, that think it is cool to out gender benders, that take offense at furbys and goreans and nekos.

Yes, there is nothing to preclude role players from sharing the same space as facebookers, I'm not so sure the reverse is true. Those that want Second Life to be like real life don't really last very long. Facebook is a bad source for reliable SL players. Besides there is already a 3D Virtual world doing exactly as you prescribe called Vivaty.

If SL wants to attract future loyal players, they need to hit sci-fi and comic conventions, SCA and Renaissance fairs, war reenactors, and other places likely to attract the role playing types. I've met lots of SL players who are into all of this stuff IRL as well.

AnnOtooleInSL

Wouldn't it be easier if people that want to be in yoville and facebook just go there and leave SL to the people that want a 3D environment?

Tell you what. You and Klingdon go over to Yoville and FB and advertise Second Life. I.e.; Linden Research never bothered to even try marketing. Sort of a Marketing 101 thing: Advertise or shut up about lack of growth.

Want more people to be able to function in Second Life with lower end computers? Remove Windlight. That's 130,000 less triangles to render right there.

Linden Research needs to come out and say what their plans are so people that want no part of it can deal with the situation before getting any further invested.

Also, BTW, those facebook "real life identities" are about as reliable as Second Life NPIOF accounts.

Oh and newsflash: Your Second Life profile page has this little tab called 1st Life. If you want to share your real life identity then there you go. Been there all along. Even has a spot for your picture. Ever bother to notice how many Second Life customers (that pays Klingdon's and the rest of LL's salaries) do not have any desire to share their first life identity? Is there a reason Second Life's paying customers do not want to share their real life identities? Did anyone with these ideas consider that?

Maybe Linden Research needs to just push reset on Second Life, delete all the accounts, content, and regions, and start over with these new ideas and see how their revenue streams hold up. Who knows? Might be the best thing since sliced bread. Just give everyone a month to grab the right kind of third party client to export everything first. ;-)

Hamlet Au

"Linden Research never bothered to even try marketing. Sort of a Marketing 101 thing: Advertise or shut up about lack of growth"

Actually, Ann, that's wrong in several ways. Linden did run some marketing campaigns in 2005-2006, on Boing Boing and gaming sites. Even did a cross-promotion with Suicide Girls. And so on. Had minimal impact on traffic. For that matter, a large portion of media coverage during the hype period qualifies as advertising, it was so puffy. Certainly with the *CSI* cross-promotion, that was essentially a national ad campaign. Again, all had minimal impact on traffic.

By contrast, YoVille has little or no external advertising, and grew to 20 million users in just over a year. Why do you think that is?

Robbie Kiama

I would like to point out to how all those users in Facebook gathered around social games made by Zynga:
http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecosystem-of-hell/

Brenda Connoly

I have a FB account for my SL avatar, to help promote a project I am involved in. I don't chat much, usually only about that project, and primarily though not exclusively friend SL avatars only. I have to admit several people have come into SL based on thisproject, but it is admittedly in a fetish niche.

I do play several of the games, and enjoy them, but to make any comparisons between them and SL is ludicrous.Maybe the fact that so many millions play them shows that difference. They aren't people who would "get" SL.So are we now going to turn SL into something they will "get"? Also that remark by the guy from Zynga was an insult. REAL people with REAL identities do play SL. We just don't want the entire Metaverse(tm)to know them as soon as we log on.

MyFaceSpaceBookTweetPlurk holds no interest for RL me. Nor does connecting my First Life with my Second. If this does become the norm, I won't stay around for it.

Brenda Connoly

"I would like to point out to how all those users in Facebook gathered around social games made by Zynga:
http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecosystem-of-hell/"

That's a great article. That's the first thing I noticed when I started those games. I don't go near those "offers"

It wouldn't suprise me to see some sort of similar scam for Lindens in SL, especially aimed at new people. That is the same sort of greasy marketing tactic that the new regime there would probably pull.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Ann, I often disagree with you, but you have hit an enormous nail squarely on the head when you note:

"Linden Research never bothered to even try marketing. . . . Advertise or shut up about lack of growth."

Are we seeing the limits of "viral" growth with SL? I was impressed by a commercial I saw on BBC this summer in the UK, advertising the Sims.

Where's the SL media-blitz? Are they afraid it won't scale, after all? Every I.T. goon who hates SL has told me that.

Arcadia Codesmith

The whole concept is a non-starter unless Facebook mods its TOS to allow anonymous avatar pages. The fact that enforcement is spotty doesn't change the fact that the rule is fundamentally incompatible with Second Life. And unless the Lindens have the leverage to get Facebook to do this, we're done here.

One alternative I can see is for LL (or Independant Philip) to muscle their way into the social web space with an app that has Facebook-style functionality, is by design deeply integrated with Second Life, and can play well with others. And if "Lifebook" can cross-link with Facebook, that's gravy.

Hamlet Au

"Where's the SL media-blitz?"

Like I said, Iggy, Linden did try some media campaigns. The *CSI* cross-promotion was a GIANT media campaign. Results were negligible.

Personally I don't think a mass market campaign is viable until the viewer and first hour experience is greatly changed. However, I doubt it'll add a few hundred thousand new users in itself.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Hamlet, thanks for reminding me of the CSI promo. I *still* want to see it. But did it send the wrong message?

One student this term saw it, with her mom. Her mom tried to get her to withdraw from my class, based on the use of SL, and the student reports that the CSI episode made her feel that SL is "creepy." She now enjoys the work writing about SL, and she went to Burning Life, but it took some personal reassurance that our initial work would be educational.

Another student saw SL on "The Office." In that case, it was "SL is for guys like Dwight."

Good publicity for SL? I'd prefer some print and online ads, some TV spots that don't emphasize stalking and escape for losers.

Hamlet Au

I believe *The Office* episode with SL was cleared by LL, Iggy. At the end, you see that Jim (the only cool guy in the office) is also into Second Life, with a rock star avatar he shows off to Pam. T. Linden even mentioned the show in his Web 2.0 talk last week, saying SL is full of Jims and Pams and Dwights.

But again, that episode of *The Office* caused a huge influx of new users... almost none of whom stayed. Second Life's problem isn't lack of publicity, it's difficulty at being sticky (beyond a small minority of users.)

Hamlet Au

"I would like to point out to how all those users in Facebook gathered around social games made by Zynga"

Robbie, I'm well aware of that controversy raised by TechCrunch and I know the players involved. Arrington has some valid points but he painted with a very broad brush. Be sure to read Anu Shukla's response. In any case, most of the criticisms don't actually apply to Zynga, and the CEO has a reply as well:

http://markpincus.typepad.com/markpincus/2009/11/my-take-on-zynga-and-cpa-offers.html

AnnOtooleInSL

OK Hamlet. LL tried some rather obvious ineffective marketing techniques. Even you have called these attempts out in your comments right here as ineffective whether you like your words being spun as that truth or not.

So let's just agree LL has never run any effective marketing. CSI hardly counts at all. One channel. Limited audience.

IMHO the best advertising SL has encountered so far is negative press lol.

If LL wants effective marketing they must first decide what Second Life is. It used to be entertainment. Now it looks like Klingdon is unhappy with the trailblazing leadership position Second Life has been enjoying and wants to opt for barking dog chasing the facebook van. I.e.; what is SL anyway? Let me know what LL will firmly state SL is and I'll toss out a couple of hints as to what might work for marketing. If LL will not peg SL as entertainment then this discussion is academic and pointless because it means Second Life has reached it's end of life phase.

Hamlet Au

"Now it looks like Klingdon is unhappy with the trailblazing leadership position Second Life has been enjoying and wants to opt for barking dog chasing the facebook van."

Far as I know, Ann, M. Linden hasn't said anything about Facebook integration. It's my opinion they should do it; no idea if he or the Lindens share it. Please don't mistake them for me.

Alberik Rotaru

Ms. Obscure: That would be fine, because the SL account will have already been created and the user acquired. Though I find it highly unlikely that Facebook is going away any time soon. 300 MILLION ACTIVE ACCOUNTS. If they lost a million users every month, they'd lose half their total customer base... in TWELVE YEARS. And still have 150 million users.

What would your analysis of MySpace have been 18 months ago?

Hamlet Au

Alberik, MySpace is still quite popular, with much more than 100 million active users, and reportedly monetizes social games better than Facebook. For that matter, Orkut, Google's early social network that was all but abandoned by US users in 2004 or so, has continued growing in the rest of the world, and now has around 100M users:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/20091103/google-orkut-becomes-simpler-smarter-and-faster.htm

AnnOtooleInSL

According to some analysis that got tweeted about not too long ago Myspace was for the blue collar, Facebook was for the middle class, and Linkedin was for people with actual money and who were financially secure. Shouldn't LL be chasing the Linkedin van instead since those are the people that actually still have money and make the decisions anyway?

Or how about *all* of them instead?

I like myspace. At least there the guys from Tarsha will say hi.

Anyway I think SL is in identity crisis mode. So kind of hard to market when you don't even know what you have lol. Might be the underlying reason there is difficulty. Perhaps LL should consider coop marketing and help the various segments within SL market themselves.

Balthasar Bookmite

Personally FB is rl and mostly play the games to procrastinate. Honestly FB and SL totally different forums. FB is about connecting with friends, not really about making new ones. Also, it is more a supplement to rl because you can send people you haven't talked to in a while, ect. With sl is more about being an avatar, interacting with the metaverse, ESCAPING from rl. There needs to be a divide in our worlds because that is what keeps people coming to our world in the first place.


Also, a lot of my friends always wonder why I have a Second Life because they see it as not living the first, which should be the most important.

Ziki Questi

I couldn't agree more with Ann and Soror. I've never created a Facebook account for my avatar because it's my understanding that Facebook routinely deletes accounts that aren't "real" people. And even if I (Ziki) had a Facebook page, what would I use it for? To friend other SL residents and chat with them? I already do that inworld.

My human (who, yes, is a regular Facebook user) doesn't have much interest in publicly connecting her real life and second life identities. A few close friends in both worlds know my identities in the other, but do I want to broadcast my SL identity on my RL Facebook page? No.

On the other hand, Facebook could be a great place for LL to advertise SL ... Speaking of which, the current SL sponsored link on Google says: "Second Life Virtual World - Buy Linden Lab Dollars, Rent Land Build Your Dream Live Extravagantly." Huh? That's how to advertise Second Life? By starting off with "buy Linden Lab dollars"? Who is running the marketing department at LL?

Crap Mariner

It will be interesting to watch StreamJam's integration with Facebook when it comes out of alpha.

-ls/cm

Arcadian Vanalten

I'm on Facebook and YoVille, although I've only been to YoVille once and frankly don't get why folks are into it *shrugs*. I DO like the idea of a FB-style feature for SL, but I'd rather see a new proprietary beast instead of an actual FB page, like FB for avvies.

FB doesn't allow alternate identities, and frankly, I kinda like keeping the 2 pops separate. But I'd rather like to see an online networking site like FB that my avatar's identity could use to stay in touch w/ his friends' list when not in-world, leave messages for folks (that don't get capped). Perhaps something that launches from the Secondlife.com website? I really think there's a market for this.

Archie Lukas

I read the YoVille blog

seems it is mostly down at peak times

So its does share user experiences with SL then?

Alex

I spend 195$ USD a month for a full sim in SL, completely generated by sales of SL products that I create and sell in SL. I have a Facebook page too, but I don't spend a dime in Facebook on gifts, games and the like. I also don't make any money, or get any work from being on Facebook. It's a no brainer for me. I spend maybe 20 minutes on Facebook a day and several hours in Second Life.

My SL avatar looks nothing like I do in RL and that's the way I like it.

Alex

It's pretty obvious why the "corporate world" prefers FB to SL. And to compare the two is like comparing apples and oranges. Facebook is for "oversharers", ie; people who think that everyone they know is interested in hearing about and seeing all the mundane, insignificant details of their personal lives. We're talking about hundreds of pictures of themselves drinking, partying with friends, on vacations, with their kids, pets & possessions, etc... Facebook caters to the "LOOK AT ME!" crowd.

These people are very easy to market to because they pretty much tell everyone about what they like & dislike. It's one big popularity contest to see who can pad their page with the most friends.

Second Life, on the other hand, is for people who prefer a more escapist experience. These users want to enjoy the creativity and wonder of a world created by themselves and fellow users. In SL it doesn't matter if you can't walk in real life, because you can fly and teleport in this world. I know dozens of physically handicapped people who enjoy SL for this reason alone. SL users don't want to be "marketed to" by huge corporations who offer nothing but real life products and contribute nothing more to SL but billboards and ways to separate them from their money. During the initial corporate "gold rush" into SL two years ago, all these corporations did was "ugly up" the SL landscape. They contributed absolutely NOTHING to the SL experience. If anything they tried to remove the SL user from the virtual experience, and when it didn't work, they tried belittling it and it's users.

The majority of SL users who contribute to making it what it is are creative people. We create our own experience and our own products. We don't need Coca Cola billboards on every SL roadway, there's plenty of that ugliness in real life. Second Life has a very successful economy for people with imagination and creative ideas, something that is completely lacking in the "demographic marketing" world of huge corporations. Corporate exploitation of SL will continue to fail as long as they continue to take a "real world" approach to it.

Frankly, I'm happy to see them fail in SL, the landscape is much more enjoyable without all that corporate clutter and blatant commercialism. One of the best things about SL is the ability to escape that constant "marketing to" experience that pervades most social networking sites like Facebook. In fact, if FB couldn't put advertising on your personal pages, they wouldn't make a dime on that site.

mark thompson

SL will never have the numbers like similar worlds and social networking sites because of the very nature of SL. You have to download a program that makes intensive use of your computer. If you don't have a fast processor, good graphics card, the most memory your computer can handle, and high speed internet, it does not work well enough for you to enjoy. Even then, if 40 people are in one sim, it slows down considerably. What does this mean? Time and money. You have to have the patience with the technology and a good deal of disposable income for your virtual life. SL would have to stop being SL, in order for the numbers to increase.

SL can only appeal to a limited segment of the market, who find the characteristics of SL appealing despite the lag and who can afford the costs.

These are the main reasons why most of the people who I have spoken to about SL are not in SL. They don't want to go through a lengthy registration and orientation process. They don't want to download a program and learn how to use it. Many people's internet speed is not fast enough or use computers with low end graphics.

SL tries to create a real 3D world but the concept is ahead of the technology. Computer hardware and software will have to catch up with the concept and the costs will have to come down for the average person before the numbers can increase. Even then, let's admit it, people who create scripts for fun have a higher level of intelligence than the general population. Most people don't have the will or ability to climb steep learning curves, which SL is.

What will always be most popular is simply using the standard browser to access social networking sites that don't require much from you or your computer. But not necessarily the most profitable.

Sl has an older client base, which research has confirmed, with greater disposable income and a willingness to spend. When I just joined SL, I didn't intend to buy land or spend a dime. I wouldn't tell my partner what I've spent just this year.

Biancaluce Robbiani

Facebook is a mass product. Not for experts. Is web. Like reading a newspaper. That's something completely different from SL. SL per se is not so difficult to use but a bit of patience is needed to.
That's why we can't compare web numbers to SL numbers.
In a 3D space you can make totally different things and share syncronous and asyncronous things with others while sharing your shaped environment made of chat, scripts, textures, objects etc.
That's is completely different from sharing simple written things or simple links to videos...
Let's teach people what SL is or can be shaped. Let's stop whining for what is offered, comparing it to other VW. And moreover let's teach number readers what SL numbers are.

(btw 50 avatars in a virtual conference are more than a video conference 10 one, and 50 avatar conference linked to a 1000 ppl rl conference one are thousands time worth than let's say, 10000 playing games on FB)

Markopolis Balhaus

Integration with the rest of the Web is a good move for Second Life. There will be some that will realize the potential that exists in SL.

FarmVille? YoVille? I agree with Soror Nishi on that.

MarK Thompson

I have to say that this constant push for mainstream by certain people will be the death of the kind of virtual worlds that appeals to people like me.

I only got a facebook account last year in order to keep in touch with a group I went on a training programme with. Since then, although I have tried to make it as private as possible I've been friended by people who I don't necessarily want to be friends with.

I am not mainstream because I do not want to have lots of friends, and I do not want people to know how I am feeling or what I am doing.

My life is very compartmentalized because of my profession and my private life and the things that I am interested in. I already have more than one identity, because this is the only way that I can pursue my diverse interests without creating conflicts between my personal and professional lives.

I do not wish these different interests to connect. That is why I no longer use Facebook regularly. People who can access my Facebook account already know more about me than I am comfortable with.

The day that Second Life becomes mainstream and integrated with things like Facebook, is the day that I will leave it, and return to only dreaming and reading sci-fi to escape my reality in the ways when I need to.

This is the real market need that SL is filling, and for which I am paying thousands of US dollars per year, and which has made the company profitable, because people like me are willing to pay big bucks for that. Facebook can go to hell! Long live fantasy!

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.