Analyzing Virtual Worlds

In the past week I’ve written a lot about a different type of social media – virtual realities and online game environments. While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are currently the most popular and have a very large subscriber base (Facebook currently with the most at 400 million subscribers to date), the online virtual communities have large enough populations to not be completely ignored:

  • World of Warcraft has 12 million subscribers
  • Second Life had 1.5 million users log in the past 60 days
Sony/BMG Media Island
Sony/BMG Media Island in Second Life

Now of course marketing to folks inside games like World of Warcraft isn’t always feasible, although there are other ways to reach that market. However in a virtual community like Second Life there are definitely more marketing opportunities. In fact Second Life even gives advertisers advice on how to advertise within Second Life. Some large companies like Sony/BMG even collaborate with Second Life and sponsor areas within the virtual world as a form of marketing.

So how can we analyze the marketing campaigns in these virtual spaces? As far as I know there are no metrics tools that currently measure marketing campaigns within virtual worlds like Second Life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t measure at all. Second Life allows you to post YouTube content so that certainly allows you to measure and track any video content you use in your campaign in Second Life. If you advertise using banners and such then making sure to include a unique URL for tracking purposes would go a long way to measuring and assessing how your campaigns within Second Life perform.

In this age of Social Media of course, having someone actively engaging with potential customers within Second Life (much like engaging with folks in Facebook and Twitter), goes a lot farther than the more traditional advertising media. Building relationships and trust while keeping your brand “top of mind” in people’s consciousness will help build customer loyalty. While this is not as easy to track and measure, it’s certainly not impossible to do.

Definitely when you engage with your customers within Second Life, you can gauge their sentiment first hand. And if you want to send them off to your site make sure it’s a trackable URL you are giving them. We may not yet be to the level of virtual communities like you see depicted on the TV series “Caprica”, but the technology continues to improve and evolve and you too may one day enter “V-Club”, and as this particular medium continues to grow, make sure your marketing and metrics keep up.

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