Friday, July 20, 2007

Is second life close to death?

How times have changed: The last few months Second Life was grabbing headlines in the traditional press and blogosphere. Apparently, many first lifers believe that things are not going that well in Second Life: Empty stores, brands mostly going instead of coming and advertisers feeling disappointed about the ROI of their investment.

I'm not surprised.

Second Life was envisoned as an alternative to real life. The residents wanted to escape their daily routine, communicate with friends and strangers on a different life, experiment with a virtual world and see where it would take them. And then came the brands. Billboards, showrooms, commercial displays. Second Life turned into Time Square because marketers didn't understand the premise of Second Life. Instead of working with the community, becoming a valued participant, they decided to disrupt and be annoying. The good news is: the disrupters are bailing. Nobody visits their islands. Nobody cares about their brands.

Instead of lamenting the demise of Second Life, we should be celebrating the opportunities for a real second life. Community-centric, a place where brands can experiment and discover how they can build relevant connections to their customers. It was always meant to be that way.

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