Marketers Will Not Destroy Second Life
Much negativity has surrounded the launch of a new marketing company called Crayon. The company chose to make their launch announcement within Second Life where they established an island outpost. Some seem to think it's the end of Second Life because Crayon, along with all kinds of other marketers, will enter Second Life with no respect for the world's current residents. To coin a Second Lifers anti-marketing sentiment, it's all a gallery of lies. Second Life will be just fine with or without marketers.
First of all, Crayon is not a company whose sole purpose is to create marketing programs within Second Life. The company created the outpost as an efficient place to conduct business. Sure, some of the work they do may be Second Life-related but that is not the focus of the company. We don't profess to know anything more than what a couple months-worth of visits to Second Life have provided but, as far as we can see, no one is forcing Second Life residents to pay any attention at all to brands entering the world. In fact. most have been set up on islands which can easily be ignored or never discovered in the first place.
It is completely understandable Second Life residents would be upset by the current onslaught of brands entering the world and the fear the brands will have no respect for the way things are done or for the hard work many residents have spent years accomplishing. Certainly, there will be many missteps by brands as they explore this new world and yes, there will be press releases filled with mindless, meaningless blather pontificating such "paradigm shifting" marketing blather. But that's just harmless, standard operating procedure in the world on marketing.
It's true most marketers have never heard of Second Life and don't realize it's been around since 1999 or so and that much virtual blood, sweat and tears have been spent building the place. But marketers, as they usually do, like to jump into these cool new things with much fanfare spouting the "first, best, only" theme and spilling forth senseless jargon without completely understanding what they're talking about. It's just their/our way. But they are not dumb and they are not stupid enough not to realize harming Second Life residents will make their entrance into the world pointless in the first place. Just like any successful new endeavor, Second Life is expanding faster than America's waistline and with that growth, inevitably comes marketers eager to get a piece of the fat. It's the natural life cycle of things.
In the marketing community, Second Life is the cool new thing just like YouTube, MySpace, podcasting and blogging recently were and AOL was a decade ago. And marketers love cool, new things. Marketers can't help but glom onto the next new thing because, well, that's where the people are and advertising, like it or not, follows the people because the people have money. Add to that the decline in effectiveness of "old media" and it's become a land grab for anything that remotely resembles a means by which to reach an audience that's gaining more control over how, what, when and where they consume media. Second Life is this week's poster child for "cool new ad medium" and it's now part of every agency presentation to their clients.
Both "sides" if you will are strangers to one another and a "getting to know you" period would be a step in the right direction lest each continue to misunderstand the other and do more harm than good. Second Life is not first life and first life's "rules" should not apply to Second Life. It's an entirely different world and right now, the residents know a whole lot more than the marketers. That does not, however, mean marketers - puff-filled press releases aside - should be immediately cast off as clueless idiots.
All of that said, while Second Life is a very cool place and very hot topic right now, it is but a faint, far off star in the gigantic universe of marketing. Sure, something may come of it Matrix-style but for now, it's mostly hot air and something to "hip up" a marketing presentation.
In terms off Crayon, that organization will be the least of the resident's problems as marketers continue their stampede towards this week's medium du jour. Crayonville is just a convenient place for that company's employees to meet and do business. It's not a vast conspiracy to tear down years of hard work Second Life residents have engaged in to make the place the fantastic experience it has become.