No logo for Second Life

Image courtesy of Torley Linden
Image of a very rare Second Life pendant courtesy of Torley Linden

I originally wrote this post as a comment on today’s post by Inara Pey, and figured it might be a little more visible here on my own blog, instead of buried under the many comments that Inara might get on her post. Besides, it gives me a chance to correct the many typos and grammatical errors (!) in the comment…

/me sighs at her blindness that, like a miracle, is only cured after hitting the “publish” button.

The original post was generally about how the Lab should market Second Life, and more specifically on the idea of using premiums like logo-marked mugs, clothing and accessories.

Draxtor Despres, who raised this question with Linden Lab staffers in a recent DraxFiles Radio Hour interview, and I have discussed marketing SL in the past, and I remember this and other similar ideas coming up. Like then, as now, Drax and I see this differently.

/me sits comfortably in her leather armchair as she prepares to hand out advice predicated on a data set that resembles swiss cheese.

If I was advising the Lab in matters of marketing, I would recommend them to NOT invest in premiums as a significant marketing investment. And here is why:

Premiums aren’t a good investment

Premiums (which is the broader group for goods supplied by a company with their marketing messages on them) are not a relatively good marketing investment full stop. Studies by The Nielsen Company on global marketing return on investment have shown it to generate $1.19 for every $1 spent, which is only marginally better than average, but falls short when compared to the Return on Investment of (in ascending order) print magazines, co-op programs, long-term PR, long-term TV, and on-line advertising. So, I’d rather the Lab put more investment on on-line advertising and targeted PR before going elsewhere, primarily because Second Life is such a niche product and isn’t ready for TV.

Second Life is a bit like Fight Club – and in some ways the Star Wars Prequels

The first rule about Fight Club is that we don’t talk about Fight Club. Premiums are about communicating communities of association. They act as signifiers of the tribes *we want others to recognise* we belong to (and that “we want others to recognise” is the operative phrase in that statement).

I might, for example, have a coffee cup featuring nothing but Princess Leia’s famous hair buns in Episode IV. This might tell the world that I am a Star Wars fan – because I want to be associated with what Star Wars represents. I might also wear a Captain Picard t-shirt to show which Star Trek *team* I’m on, because everyone knows that TNG was the best series, of course… that goes without saying…

Again, it’s what these ideas or motifs represent, as opposed to what they in fact might even be. Many Millennials might not have even seen the original Star Wars trilogy, but due to retro branding, see it as cool. Original Star Wars branding (and characters) tends to represent originality, innovation, pioneering, and trendsetting. This is starkly contrasted with the idea of wearing a t-shirt with Jar Jar Binks on it, which might only be seen as ironic, lest one be considered devoid of all taste and good judgment. We all know that the second trilogy doesn’t hold a petering blue lightsaber to the coolness of the original.

These premiums (often licensed and not marketed by the brands themselves) might act as conversation starters. This is not why I have these goods, but I wouldn’t mind a conversation coming up surrounding them.

Second Life is different. Most people who use Second Life don’t talk about Second Life to friends and associates – even when probed. In general, Second Life users don’t want to be associated with it in their real life spheres of interaction. Virtual reality as a concept is hardly even discussed among people who work in *highly* technically oriented communities, in which one might consider it to be at least an objective area of interest. The Lab has a word of mouth problem because their product just isn’t seen as very cool.

I’d more likely be seen wearing a shirt featuring Carrie Fisher in her double-barrelled bun-headed glory (even if she was a raging cokehead in the ’80s… but hell, it was the ’80s…), than the same t-shirt featuring the more relatable Natalie Portman, regardless of how much more amazing her hair or how much of a badass she was (barring that unfortunate romance with the incessantly whiny young Anakin, as played by the equally incessantly whiny young actor known as Hayden Christensen).

Premiums are a solution for the wrong problem

Premiums are best for maintaining loyalty among heavy-users, and do very little to attract new users unfamiliar with the product. Second Life does not have a long-term loyalty problem, it has a new-user acquisition problem. As a product, I’ve been loyal to Second Life (albeit with a few short breaks) since 2007. I honestly can’t say that about many other brands. Second Life is by nature addictive because the experiences we have in Second Life are so highly rewarding.

This is even true for famously brand-disloyal Gen Xers (more on this later). We don’t need a logo-festooned jacket to keep us loyal or remind us to log in to Second Life instead of its alternative. For starters, there are very few viable alternatives. Second, we invest a great deal into Second Life, which creates a switching cost. Third, it’s as accessible as nearly everything else digital. Fourth, we don’t even have to be logged in to engage in the community by using the social media surrounding it. Fifth, appearing as a corporate logo-branding shill just isn’t very cool these days either.

I’m not a walking billboard

Premiums are generational, and premiums aren’t viewed the same among generational differences. I have no idea what the age demographic for Second Life is but I can hazard an educated guess.

My assumption (based on nothing but experience and intuition) is that Second Life is most popular among Gen Xers born between 1965 and 1979, with some bleeding into late Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and more penetration into Millennials (1980-2000).

Gen Xers were the first generation to actively wear corporate logos on their clothes, which is why I can understand that this idea might appeal to both Linden Lab staffers, Drax, and many of the readers of Inara’s blog post.

Gen Xers might think back to all the logos they’ve worn emblazoned on back pockets, buttons, chests, shoulders and backs and think that nothing could be more natural. What they tend to forget however, is that this was also the time when George Lucas had a soul.

While we still see some people sporting logos today the way previous generations wore crucifixes around their necks, Gen Xers, and nearly everyone else, has become considerably more aware of how marketing actually works, and refuse to be a walking advertisement for all but the most personally defining brands.

One might cite a trend that seems to fly in the face of that argument, in that for years, the logos on our clothing have become larger and larger. This trend, however, is adopted in mainly three cases: a) the brand is aspirational (which Second Life is not), the adopters of these products are from lower economic social classes (which I’d hazard to guess Second Life users are not), and the adopters of these products are from countries aspiring to Western ideals (which may be a market for Second Life, but wouldn’t constitute the heavy user base for which premiums actually work for).

So, no. As much as I’d like to have a t-shirt with Drax’s handsome mug shot on it (/me winks at Bernhard if he’s reading), I’d advise the Lab to spend its money and energy elsewhere.

23 thoughts on “No logo for Second Life

  1. Hi Becky, I’m so glad you wrote this “Reply Post.” Partly for the compelling ideas you’ve expressed, but even more because I’ve been thinking about Reply Posts lately!

    The nature of online conversation: Blogs > Comments > Facebook > etc has been on my mind. In the last month or so a lot of people have been talking about the “Blogosphere” that decade old term that would be as horrific to use today as admitting that you “use” or “play” or whatever it is that you do, SL.

    The Blogosphere was a great place of discussion. Then M. Zuckerberg steamrolled over that and the rest of online culture with his platform that is as boring as it is straightjacketing. I didn’t really appreciate MySpace back in the day, but vis-a-vis FB I’ve really come to appreciate how much freedom there was on MySpace. Freedom to choose your own identity. Freedom to design your page. Sure a few MySpace pages wouldn’t load because of overzealous HTML cutting & pasting, but what a small price to pay for all that freedom. It’s kind of ironic that FB TOS don’t allow access to avatars, because the 1 billion users that they do have are all zombies!

    Anyway, as I understand it, comments on blogs overall are down. Not because no one is discussing. But because even if someone does read your post, their comment is likely to be not on your post, but on Twitter, FB, etc.

    For sure there are a few smart people on FB. But mostly what I see are comment threads where no one has even read the original post, they’re just riffing on the previous comment. If your blog title is clever, you’ll probably get cussed out for being some flavor of chauvinist because the cusser didn’t bother to read your writing where you were, in fact, critiquing that very sort of chauvinism.

    Blog commenting fades. FB comments are pointless. So let’s bring back the Reply Post! A place where real conversation can take place. Where Inara writes something interesting and Becky does more than “like” it or write a 1 or 2 sentence comment, but comes to her own blog and writes a great Reply Post!

    Um, why am I still typing this comment? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment and for the reply post I just read this morning! I agree (obviously) with your points about reply posts. I’ve done them before but only here and there, and I think I’ll be doing more of them. One thing I want to do where I can, is reply in both places (the original post, with perhaps a link to the reply post once it’s done). The funny thing is, I find that my writing is much more free flow in comments than it is on my own blog sometimes. Perhaps the free flow comes from the notion of conversation – just like it’s quite easy for me to write at length in IM, then get a bit stumped when writing for my blog. I might experiment with that more and see how it goes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually agree and concur Becky. I actually think SL needs to turn around and address the elephant in the room before thinking to brand outward. Buying a mug or T-shirt isn’t going to resolve the issue of the roquefort smelling stigma of SL where the only publicity of the product is on the evening news regarding “parents” who are so involved inworld they let their baby starve. I won’t wear their logo, or viral out their logo on the premise having it on my shirt is akin to wearing a scarlet letter. Their best offense at this point is dissemination of information in various channels clearing up this information . Educate. Or something like that. *hits enter with the hopes nothing is out of sorts*


    1. No, it won’t. But it will give SL users, if they so wish to make the purchase, something they can have at home to express their personal interest and engagement in SL. In my original article, I saw outreach and promote very much SL as secondary to providing users with good that have been seen as desirable (the limited edition pendant sold-out rapidly), and at limited outlay to the Lab (the goods have already been designed and sourced) – as I’ve noted below in my reply to Becky.

      As to the “elephant in the room” – well, as we all know from our own experiences, changing another’s opinion / perception (or indeed, having our own changed) is extraordinarily difficult once set opinions / perceptions are set in stone. And the reality is that perceptions within some quarters of the media were set in stone a long time ago, and no matter how the Lab tries, they’re not going to successfully impact them, no matter what they do. As it is, the Lab is very much doing as you request – disseminating information through interviews and articles through those channel where they are likely to be heard; and that’s all they really can do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Or show in measurable ways how SL positively impacts so many real world residents, whether it’s our work with charitable foundations, awareness campaigns or even just providing those with disabilities a better quality of life. Figuring out how to leap that wall would go a long way toward improving perception. It’s not impossible, heck look at Taco Bell ‘ s successful rebranding, i am just saying perhaps attention to this detail is a little better suited to what ails SL. I give a lot of money to this “game” as it is, I would love for this to be a fact I am proud of at the end of the day is all I meant, Inara. 🙂


  3. I posted the following in reply to your original comment on my blog, and am re-posting without amendment here:

    Thanks for the feedback, and points made.

    In terms of point 1. True – although the counter argument is that within niche environments, the ROI can be more significant.

    “In general, Second Life users don’t want to be associated with it in their real life spheres of interaction.” I’m not sure that is entirely true; many SL users are willing to allow overlap – perhaps not a majority, but enough to be substantial.

    However, whether or not we’re willing to talk to others about our interest in SL or not is actually beside the point. Yes, I do make the point of the potential towards the end of the article (and do so somewhat tongue-in-cheek in the case of FIC mugs), but it is entirely secondary to the main point of the piece.

    As you point-out, we are deeply invested in Second Life. We’re invested enough to push back against media articles that we perceive as presenting an unfair view of the platform; we’re invested enough to keep coming back time and again despite (real or imagined) outrages at the Lab “doing it wrong”. We retain – in the broadest possible sense of the word – a feeling of community and belonging. As such, and even if the items never get seen beyond our fridge door, our desk at home (or even sits, unremarked upon, on our desk at work), there is a an “internal” marketplace for Lab-related merchandise.

    What’s more, one could argue that the case for a modest range of merchandise has already been made. The pendant to which I referred (and my thanks to Caliburn for the image reference!), saw interest exceed availability, and being limited-edition, the offer was never repeated to satisfy the interest shown.

    Further, and my own wilder aspirations for merchandise aside, making a modest group of items available to users needn’t be a huge effort. A lot of the hard work has already been done: the Lab has mugs, magnets and (at least the design for) pendants already available; t-shirts don’t take a huge amount of effort and oversight to produce. So they’re already pretty much in a position to at least test the waters once more, and with controlled cost of execution. So why shouldn’t the Lab test the waters once more. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, talk about an echo chamber with all this duplicate posting! 😉

      Yes certainly Inara, ROI can be more significant depending on numerous conditions, the numbers I cite are averages, so by definition one’s results can be higher or lower than reported.

      In regards to your suggestion that a “substantial” amount of users want to overlap analog and digital lives: How much is substantial? And substantial for what?

      We can only guess of course, but there is a mountain of practical evidence that suggests that a very, very, very insignificant proportion of residents volunteer to do so. The vast majority of users conceal all and any identifying information in their profiles, which would be the easiest place to look for evidence of overlap. This includes one’s image, one’s location, one’s occupation, where one works, and one’s name. Many don’t even share the fact they use Second Life with their most dear, let alone friends, associates or (gasp!) strangers. And if that is not the case, where is the evidence to suggest that that this substantial inclination exists?

      The point I’m making about wishing to talk to others is important, because by wearing or using branded merchandise outside of my private home, we are effectively communicating our association with a product and inviting remarks or questions. It is likely that this association would generate negative assumptions among those only marginally acquainted with the breadth that SL has to offer (assumptions which would likely remain unspoken), and genuine questions from those that are familiar and positive, which may in fact lead to some uncomfortable evasive manoeuvres.

      I don’t argue with the idea that there is a minority of people that might purchase such items (and by minority I would expect a maximum of 1-2% of residents), but I would be very surprised if more than that small number of “residents would go nuts” buying them by the dozens as Drax suggests in his interview. We have to always remember when listening through Drax’s filter – he is not a typical Second Life user, just like how people that choose to be featured in the DraxFiles or the Radio Hour are not typical Second Life users.

      It’s true that these things don’t take a huge amount of effort and oversight to produce, it might (and should) be outsourced even, and at a cost that wouldn’t be significant at all. Every effective marketing budget has an element of experimentation (some might argue as high as 15%) which we might call “mad money”. These are resources that one might forgive a zero or even a net loss return, because you are right, one wouldn’t want to miss something great at the altar of being error-free. So sure, make pendants! Make mugs and t-shirts too – hell, I might even buy some if I didn’t think we had enough tat polluting the world and needlessly cluttering our homes and landfills – but again, I recognise I am in the minority and atypical.

      Whilst the idea is worth exploring, all I’m saying is that there are far more effective areas on which to spend energy and effort, that might help address more significant marketing problems, given limited marketing resources.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And… my reply to your reply… reposted…!

        “We can only guess of course, but there is a mountain of practical evidence suggests that a very, very, very insignificant proportion of residents volunteer to do so.”

        Yes, we can only guess, which is why – with respect – the second half of this statement is purely subjective, and possibly biased by your own leaning on the matter.

        As such, I’ll offer my own subjective counterpoint. There has been for a far while now, people who openly state in their profiles that they see no real boundary or divide between their virtual and physical selves, and see no differentiation between how they interact in either realm. Look at the numbers of SL users happy to directly link their SL identity with the physical identity of Facebook (the major driver behind the original SL capability in the viewer). As such, they may well welcome the opportunity to have a mug on their desk at home, a pendant to wear – or even a t-shirt or sweatshirt to wear in public.

        So, the “mountain of practical evidence” you refer to could be very well balanced-out by a counter “mountain of practical evidence”.

        “I don’t argue with the idea that there is a minority of people that might purchase such items (and by minority I would expect a maximum of 1-2% of residents)”

        Again, with respect, subjective guesswork, pulling a minimal figure out of the air. In this, my previous statement is perhaps a tad more objective: the demand for the pendant outstripped availability (and even that is subjective, as we have no idea if demand would have died out if the pendant had been available in unlimited numbers). As such, and given your own acknowledgement that you might buy the merchandise were it offered actually makes the point here: qualitative statements such as “minority”, “insignificant” and “atypical”, are perhaps anything but qualitative (or, indeed, quantitative).

        But still, my basic point remains: the goods are there, they’re not vapourware the Lab needs to exert huge amounts of time and resources bringing into being. The interest in such good is also there, and has been for years (vis: the aforementioned pendant, and this entire theme cropping-up over the passage of time in other blogs, forums and conversations). So why shouldn’t the Lab test the waters again? It isn’t actually detracting from anything else they’re do

        “Whilst the idea is worth exploring, all I’m saying is that there are far more effective areas on which to spend energy and effort, that might help address more significant marketing problems, given limited marketing resources.”

        I have to smile when I read phrases like this, as they give the impression matters are an “either / or” situation. Either the Lab markets merchandise to users, or they tackle other marketing problems; either the Lab does X or they do Y. It’s a subtle emotive pull within a discussion, giving little acknowledgement to the idea that the Lab can actually do both – in this case, offer the available merchandise to users and continue with other ongoing efforts elsewhere.

        So, I guess we’ll have to agree to differ on matters.


        1. Thanks for engaging in the discussion, Inara.

          You argue that my claim that a very insignificant amount of residents would be happy to reveal their association with Second Life would do so, being “purely subjective, and possibly biased by your own leaning on the matter.”

          Yes, it’s absolutely subjective, as I said: it’s nothing but a guess. An educated guess; however, based on over 7 years of experience interacting with SL residents, which I appreciate is limited, but considerably more than nothing. In the absence of data, all either of us can really do is guess. Your counterpoint that people openly refer to a fully permeable membrane between their analog and digital lives is fair, I still maintain that in practice, it is considerably more rare than the more common (again in my own experience): which is offering no RL data at all and often going as far as explicitly stating “my RL is none of your business stop asking”. It’d be worthwhile polling a random 100 profiles to test the hypothesis, wouldn’t it? Perhaps I can find an intern around here to do that for us… 😉

          I would be interested in knowing how many SL pendants were made that sold out so quickly. Was it 100? 500? 5000? 10,000? I’m sure you can appreciate that the signal that selling out these pendants would give us might depend on that number.

          In regards to the 1-2% figure that I expected the appeal of SL merchandise to be limited to, being a number I pulled “out of the air”: I appreciate I didn’t back that up. Because you weren’t impressed by my qualitative statements, I’ll share a concrete case that may act as a more objective example.

          As you probably know, Manchester United is the world’s most widely-supported football club. A big way that fans show their support and allegiance to the club is by buying branded merchandise, specifically football shirts.

          In 2012, the market research firm Kantar claimed that Manchester United had 659 million followers worldwide. Around the same time, Forbes appraised the Manchester United brand was worth 2.24 billion USD. These are huge numbers that might invite skepticism, especially since the number reported in 2007 was a more conservative 333 million. In the 5 years leading up to 2012, how many Manchester United shirts were sold? SportingIntelligence reported 1.4 million shirts were sold worldwide. Of course, this is one case, but if my job depended on making such a sales projection in order to justify an investment, I would find plenty more research that supports this conservative estimate that is far below 1% – namely because no football club in the world sells more shirts than Manchester United.

          To underscore the point, regardless of how we feel about either brand… Second Life is no Manchester United.

          In regards to suggesting that my assertion that business choices must often be made between either / or propositions is a subtle emotive pull, let me give you another example relating to the Manchester United case I shared above.

          Nike, the manufacturer of Manchester United’s shirts, can’t produce every shirt for every football club in the world – they have to choose their markets. They can make shirts for Manchester United, but not for Liverpool. They can make shirts for Barcelona, but not for Real Madrid, they can make shirts for Inter Milan but not for AC Milan.

          In the real world, budgets are finite. Labour is finite. Time is finite. Every idea, every program, every investment competes for its share of the pie. A growing spread of any of these resources on insignificant diversions and “shiny pennies” is seed to diffusion of one of the most important marketing principles known: The Law of Focus.

          You can’t do everything. Choices must be made. Given the options which are real and exist. As a marketing professional, SL premiums would most certainly not be a choice I’d support.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. SL is as cool as we make it therefore: let’s wear that pendant with pride. I can completely understand when people want to NOT talk about what they do in SL or even that they are “associated” with it but in lieu of statistics I will say that in my own experience about half of SL friends are super eager to talk about it at every corner and half are very private.

    To each their own! Or in other words: who the heck IS THE TYPICAL SL “user”? Do we know?

    I proudly wore shirts of obscure bands in my High School days just to show my colors, the colors of someone who loves niche I suppose.

    During studying at the Conservatory of Music I would have worn a Ligeti shirt just to counter those happy go lucky Mozart people…sigh….no offense…anyways: today I am wearing my own branded shirts which look cool and are conversation starters every time.

    But: the KILLER convo starter is my “will work for L$” shirt: if I wear it around town I talk to at least 5 random people about the beauty of monetizing creativity in the digital world. A no brainer for the SL pro or LL to make merch available?


    Does not cost a dime because you don’t have to stock anything these days. And the perceived stigma? How can we get rid of it if not confronting it with fun extrovert pushback? Like a shirt that says “All my friends are alts!”

    Let me end with one more question, summarizing the above: how can Linden Lab do promotion more effectively in this fragmented digital age other than having their most ardent fans be loud and proud? How does Blizzard do it? Or the dudes that made “Angry Birds”? Yes yes yes yes I hear the marketing professional answer: they focused on a COOL product!

    Again = chicken/egg: we can MAKE it cool and if we don’t talk about it = Fight Club, absolutely but certainly not Linden’s fault 🙂


    1. Hey Drax, thanks for your two cents 🙂 You may be surprised that I actually don’t think Linden Lab should make a cool product and then hope to attract people to it. Instead, I very much agree with the idea of inviting members from the greater SL community to share why they think Second Life is cool, so that Linden Lab can adapt its core product over time.

      Your visit to Linden Lab HQ for the All-Hands Meeting is a terrific example of that. At the same time, I do hope they are also surveying, observing, interacting, and revealing what the smaller SL communities use SL for (e.g. the significantly larger proportion of users that are not famous for anything).

      You ask if we know who the “typical SL user” is. In part, it depends on how we define “typical”. Many people, you and I included, dislike the idea of fitting people into neat little boxes and treating them as such, so we might tend to undervalue words like “typical” because it suggests fuzzy thinking or exclusionism. Notably however, when I use the word “typical”, I don’t mean “average”. When I use the word typical in a marketing sense, I’m using the classical definition of the word, meaning: “having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing.”

      Why is this important? Because marketers (and I include strategists, researchers, product designers, packagers, pricing specialists and communicators in that group) need to identify distinctive qualities of particular people in order to identify needs, design products, package feature bundles, price and spread the word about products that these people desire.

      In SL’s case, as is the case of many sophisticated products for decades now, there are probably several “typicals”. Can they be described? Surely. Is it worth knowing? Definitely. Should Linden Lab aim to know? Absolutely!

      Ok, to your question: “how can Linden Lab do promotion more effectively in this fragmented digital age other than having their most ardent fans be loud and proud?” Well, marketers have a massive amount of choice when creating their marketing plans, there are a huge amount of tactics to choose from, depending on what the organisation wants to achieve and in the time frame they wish to achieve it (not to mention budget).

      I honestly can’t, and wouldn’t, answer that question right now, precisely because I don’t have access to the data that I’m talking about in this comment. With that data, and that is ALWAYS the starting point, I’d be happy to try my hand at articulating a comprehensive marketing plan for Second Life, provided they trusted me to do so.

      One thing I’ll end with, is that I truly admire how enthusiastic you are about Second Life, and how willing you are to share the best of it with the world. Your perspectives have most certainly helped me see that possibility, and it excites me to imagine where all of this may go. So thank you very much for that. Perhaps we’ll arrive at the same destination some day, you and I; albeit via different roads. 🙂


  5. You both give valid points great debate Becky and Inara, you have my BS in Business drooling with excitement.. I would like to just add one thing respectfully, as to specifically

    “As such, I’ll offer my own subjective counterpoint. There has been for a far while now, people who openly state in their profiles that they see no real boundary or divide between their virtual and physical selves, and see no differentiation between how they interact in either realm. Look at the numbers of SL users happy to directly link their SL identity with the physical identity of Facebook (the major driver behind the original SL capability in the viewer). As such, they may well welcome the opportunity to have a mug on their desk at home, a pendant to wear – or even a t-shirt or sweatshirt to wear in public.”

    In two parts, the first “people who openly state in their profiles that they see no real boundary or divide between their virtual and physical selves, and see no differentiation between how they interact in either realm. ” not to be cynical, ah ‘ell perhaps a little cynical, how often is that actually true? I think I’ve yet to find an avatar whose personality doesn’t dissolve a little around the edges as time passes by. Shoot, I equate that to Nixon saying “I am not a crook.” Do you think an avatar is going to post on his/her profile and I am fectard arsehole who is going to do their jolly best to make your life a living ‘ell? Obviously this statement can be written on a profile for any myriad of reasons, most good, some perhaps, not so much.

    And to the second part, I think FB is perhaps not the best example to give, because did these people actually truly willingly give this information? Or were they coerced (aka deleted) by FB’s rigid policy on the use of avatars? I know quite a few people who let FB go and hang out on Google+ now, so I think that factor would have to be factored in as well. But in all worlds, I say let LL spend their dollar in the way they see fit, it’s their dollar and I will continue to hide away my Second Life until a day I can proudly announce to the real world I once donated 43,000 Lindens to buy Wigs for Kids. Just a thought for another day perhaps.


  6. @caoimhe

    On the push-back, I hear you- and I’d say the Lab is trying; they’re out their talking to the media outlets that are prepared to listen, they’ve been at tech events and faires through the year, and they are proactively pushing through social media. Facebook, despite the way it is perceived, is very beneficial to them in this latter regard.

    As to the blurring of the “SL / RL” divide – I’ve actually a fair few newer people in SL are actually pretty insistent on establishing some form of “real” identity with those they’re engaging with. Granted, we can all continue to hide, and than includes making statements about “RL / SL” – but then, we can all hide to varying degrees in whatever we do.

    And FB – the differentiation of willingly / unwillingly link accounts is perhaps moot. As you say, if people were that concerned, they could have deserted FB in full and slipped over the G+ or something like ASN. But they didn’t, they made a conscious choice to say with FB.

    More to the point – a lot of people actually link their SL and FB accounts regardless of FB’s policy. They like sharing in-world photos, etc., with their friends in FB (both SL and non-SL). As I noted in my reply to Becky, the fact that many did want to share photos, etc., was a driving factor behind the original SL Share option in the viewer. So I’d say it is a perfectly valid case in point 🙂 .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Inara has LL considered using some of the many key bloggers as a push? Whether for data mining or marketing. It would be small bursts but it does at least move information some. I am a quasi-SL/RL blogger so I have a mix of real world and Second world readers and I am sure there are quite a few others (like Becky).


      1. While the Lab openly support a number of bloggers (I’ve been fortunate enough to be one), so far as I’m aware they don’t engage in any marketing activities that involve bloggers. The Lab has always felt that it is best placed handle its own marketing itself – although recently, they have been leveraging Drax’s World Makers video series to some degree.

        Marketing and leveraging the skills and abilities of users is something I’ve written upon at length over the years through my own blog, but I can well understand why the Lab is reluctant to utilise user-based activities directly (and note “understand” doesn’t necessarily mean “agree with”! 🙂 ).

        For example, look at how the Lab were lambasted over the poor quality images that used to appear on the splash pages (remember the old “vampire in a snowstorm” image, etc?). People yelled at them, cajoled them, made demands that they “do something” – so the Lab did: they engaged SL photographers like Strawberry Singh, and Harper Beresford to produce splash page images. The result? Another section of the SL community got out of their trees in outrage over the Lab “favouring” some photographers.

        So, in short, whatever the Lab might try to do with group A or group B of the user community, even if it results in something positive, is generally going to result in a very vocal backlash. and that likely leaves the Lab feeling the net outcome of trying to work with any specific group isn’t going to compensate for all “teh dramahz” it would create elsewhere.

        There are other issues as well – such as who is representative of what, and so on, which could end up making things complicated.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I”m not going to delve into the discussion regarding what LL should or shouldn’t do regarding marketing, I’d like to speak a little to the idea that people either link SL to their RL, or they guard it like a precious secret.

    It can be a mixture of both. While no one in my real life knows, or will ever know, my SL username, they all know I’m a devout fan of SL. I don’t keep that hidden, only my identity. And for those interested, I will gladly (try to) explain to them what SL is all about. Would I wear a t-shirt or drink out of an SL mug? Sure, if it was something clever. I won’t wear a sports jersey with “MACBAIN” plastered across the back of it, though.

    The SL experience is different for everyone… we’re all doing different things, looking for different things. Unless you’re targeting a very specific niche market, it makes sense to target different efforts to different audiences.

    And in my opinion, SL is not a niche product. It is a “world” and there is something for everyone if you know where to look. A big part of the new user experience is not knowing what they’re doing when they arrive. If the different offerings of SL were marketed to different audiences… well, who knows? I’ve been here 7 years and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

    It is a very cool place and we shouldn’t be ashamed of proudly associating ourselves with it. Maybe that’s just my age speaking and that I’ve reached the “I don’t get a fuck” phase of my life (and it’s fabulous!) but… hell, it’s like buying condoms. If you’re old enough to need to purchase them, you should be old enough to not be embarrassed. 🙂


    1. Now you’ve really got me wanting to conduct a survey about this issue of keeping SL private versus keeping *your personal* SL private… I’d venture that I agree generally more people might talk about Second Life before they go into their own personal lives in Second Life. Much the same we might share that we go to a therapist without feeling comfortable divulging what we actually do there. Definitely worth further study.

      Here’s a question for you though… why doesn’t your “I don’t give a fuck” approach translate to sharing your identity in Second Life? Why “give a fuck” about that and not “give a fuck” about the other? I am sure you have your reasons.

      My point is that there are always gradients in what people are comfortable divulging. For some, like you, they might only care to keep their own identity secret, for others, their circumstances, their preferences, their needs might compel them to keep their association with Second Life on the down-low.

      This relates to your example of buying contraceptives too. I may feel compelled to buy them, and I might not even be embarrassed to do so (for the record, I don’t feel the least bit embarrassed about that). Still, I’m not about to wear a t-shirt with Durex emblazoned on it or bring up the subject of contraceptive brand preferences with all and sundry.


      1. In answer to your question… there are a few reasons why I won’t share my username with anyone. The main reason is because society as a whole hasn’t caught up with my particular brand of open sexuality. The sad fact is that if my blog were to ever become associated with Real Life Beth, I’d be fired from my job. It’s the same reason that I have a pen name I use to comment on blogs, Twitter, Reddit, etc. I hold opinions that wouldn’t be popular with people associated with my profession and it would negatively impact my organization. I need an outlet to express my opinion in a public (the internet) setting without putting my livelihood at risk. My blog and my Flickr allow me to be the exhibitionist I love to be without putting it at risk, either.

        Secondly… I want to keep my SL experience to myself. I don’t want to share that space with people I know in the real world. It’s my place to escape. Work, my family, even my close friends… I don’t want them to be part of my Second Life. If they’d like to join SL and do their own thing, great! But not associated with my little piece of it. I get enough of those folks in my real daily life.

        Most everyone in the real world that knows I’m a Second Life user also know that my Second Life is where I go to unleash my sexuality. They don’t know the intimate details, but they do know I have a boyfriend, they know I like going to see live music, a few have seen vanilla photos of Beth Macbain, my house, my SL pets, etc., because I do want the people I love to know some things about this SL world that is so important to me.

        Life is drama… I have a brother dying of cancer, an aging father, a sister that is a royal pain in my ass. I’m deeply troubled by the state of the justice system in the US, my job (particularly in the month of December) is a source of stress, etc., etc., etc. Second Life is where I go to shake all that off and forget about it for a little while. If anyone from my real life were to be part of my SL, it would ruin SL for me. And I desperately don’t want that to happen.

        Second Life is a very real part of my first life. It’s not a game to me and it’s important, and I I do share that with people in my first life, but I don’t want to share the experience, if that makes sense. 🙂


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