Apr 1, 2011

It’s Called Social Media For A Reason…

Linden Lab searches for a Guru, when all they need is a Marketing Miracle.


Recently it was brought to my attention that Linden Lab, the company responsible for that thing we call Second Life (or for most of us “First Life”) is on the hunt for a Social Media and Marketing Guru. I’m not going to say that their social media and marketing strategy has thus far been lackluster, because you can only beat a dead horse so much before it begins to smell. Clearly the point is taken and Linden Lab is looking for a way to remedy the situation, which for all intents and purposes is an excellent step in the right direction.




Clearly this is not me, but it is the guru I could be if I worked for Linden Lab



Of course, I sent in my resume.


I’ve been around the virtual worlds block enough to know what works and what doesn’t, and I figured there’s no harm or foul tossing my hat into the ring. Sure I’m a bit rough, and I can be hyper-critical at times, but I believe a bit of honesty and willingness to evaluate the situation openly is what is needed. I have an excellent record for trend forecasting with this industry, despite many people not liking what is said. I’m notorious for thinking outside the box and highly creative, as well as being very quick and efficient with analysis.


I’m an active member of the IEEE Virtual Worlds Standards Group, working together with some of the global industry and technology leaders to define a world standard for virtual worlds. My involvement with virtual environments predates Second Life by about ten years, and I’ve consulted quite a lot of industry leaders in the process.


Of course there is also the matter of being an academic author on the subject of Social Media, Marketing and Virtual Environments with a chapter appropriately titled “The Future of Virtual Worlds in E-Commerce”. It’s quite possible that the word “guru” might actually be applicable in this case.


Let’s take a journey to the top of the metaphorical mountain, high above the clouds, where an old man (in his early 30s) awaits, listening to his MP3 player and writing a research paper about the Future of the Metaverse. For those who are curious, I listen to just about all types of music and even Old Time Radio shows while I’m writing (but let us not stray too far).


Up on this mountain is a realization, an understanding that Linden Lab seeks and currently is missing. The realization is this: It’s called Social Media for a reason.




Social Media is Changing Business

Thanks to the Re-Mix Culture, Infographics like this exist.



Virtual Environments, Social Media, Marketing, etc are not an individual endeavor. They do not constitute an end all to be all approach. Integrating a Facebook button on a profile page does not make you social, nor does a Twitter button. Posting events on Facebook or making a Second Life Fan Page on Facebook isn’t social media either, and it sure as heck isn’t marketing.


No, Social Media is called that because you have to be social to use it correctly. It’s not about the special offers, the analytics, or ROI – it’s about the one thing that matters most; The People.


I suspect the reason companies (Linden Lab included) have such a hard time grasping this idea is purely because they spend more time paying attention to the graphs on Google Analytics than paying attention to the people they are trying to reach out to. This is a common mistake for people with marketing degrees or formal education in this field; they have the book smarts and none of the street smarts. In short, they have their priorities screwed up.


Second Life is a social media, and the rule of thumb is to work within the system while engaging with the people that comprise that community, but don’t take my word for it – simply take time to read Lessons Learned From Lucasfilm’s Habitat where Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer clearly state to work within the system. Things like Google Analytics only show you the symptoms or effects of actions in a social media sphere, but do not give you a clear understanding or route as to what the causation was. All the formal education in the world is not going to teach this understanding or bring results to the table, no… in order to truly understand the future of virtual environments, marketing and social media, you need somebody who has been in the trenches for years and building hands-on experience; somebody not afraid to think outside the prim box.


Let’s take a closer look at this: Many of the employees at Linden Lab have a Twitter account but rarely use it (I gladly use Twitter @DarianKnight). It is rumored (and probably true) that the employees of Linden Lab rarely use Second Life themselves, which would account for their losing touch with their target community (whereas I am an active user of Second Life: Aeonix Aeon). Linden Lab is thinking like a detached company and not like a global leader of virtual worlds.


If hired, I can change that quite easily.


The trick to social media, marketing and virtual environments is anticipation and trend forecasting. Instead of reaction, Linden Lab should be ten steps ahead anticipating, and have a plan of action ahead of time when the rest of the world catches up to them. Of course, implementing time set aside for all employees to actually participate in the virtual environment would be a good idea as well. You simply cannot anticipate what the community wants in your product if most of your own employees seldom use the product themselves.


If the employees have Twitter, I highly encourage them to engage and actually use it. Let the people who are following them in social media learn little tidbits about what’s going on from the Emerald Tower of Linden Lab – your community will thank you for that profusely.


As I’ve noted, the position is open and I’ve officially applied with my resume.


If having a guy on the team that literally helped write the book on social media marketing and virtual environments, is currently writing a research paper in collaboration with Loyola Marymount University (also in Second Life) on the future of the Metaverse and research directions, contributed to the Metaverse Roadmap, is cited in Solipsis Decentralized Metaverse along with Philip Rosedale, is an active member of IEEE Virtual Worlds Standards Group, and has over 15 years of hands-on experience in the industry predating the existence of Second Life as a company, let alone a twinkle in the eye of Phil Rosedale, if that isn’t enough to earn the title Aeonix Linden, then I haven’t the slightest idea what credentials warrant earning that position, and clearly neither would Linden Lab.


As an aside, using the term “Guru” is bad form and immediately shows that the company clearly has no understanding of what they need. The correct term is “Miracle”, as in “Linden Lab is currently searching for a Social Media and Marketing Miracle.”


Lucky for them, my friend s1rux Forsythe just got me a pair of Ninja HUD Water Walking shoes in Second Life. That’s one miracle down, and how many to go?


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