Second Life’s Second Life

I’m gearing up to moderate a Business Wire panel on Tuesday morning called, “A Social Media Conversation: How PR, IR and Marketing Professionals Can Engage and Participate in the Social Web.” (Now that’s a mouthful!) The punditry includes:

  • Converseon CEO Rob Key
  • TNS/Cymfony Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Jim Nail
  • Engadget Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Block
  • Google Senior Business Product Manager for Google News Josh Cohen
  • Reprise Media Managing Partner Peter Hershberg, and
  • The Knot Senior PR Manager Melissa Bauer
In preparing questions, I reviewed some Q’s used for previous panels. One particular question explored the relevance (to PR pros) of Second Life and virtual worlds in general. After all, it was barely two years ago that every major PR agency had some mischegas brewing in the land of lonely avatars. Today, we don’t hear much about Second Life, well, at least not about its value as a marketing channel.

This paucity of SL WOM buzz exists in spite of parent Linden Labs’ recent installation of a new and notable CEO with impeccable tech cred, and the fact that the virtual world will mark its 5th anniversary starting Monday with a two-week virtual “World Fair” for which it will:

“…host a series of roundtable discussions, parties and exhibits that showcase the vast creativity of Residents as well as groundbreaking organizational uses of the Second Life platform.”

Linden Labs ironically trumpeted the news via a standard Business Wire news release on a Friday, no less. Hmmm, maybe they’re trying to bury the story over the weekend? No matter. How else can Second Life re-assert its virtual supremacy?

Some naysayers, including the folks at Silicon Alley Insider, remain skeptical about Second Life’s ability to enhance its relevance to marketers. I’m wondering if all the attention came too soon and too fast, and the current malaise in which SL finds itself is simply the natural bi-product of the fickle media’s ebb and flow (with SL now in the ebb phase.)

Maybe it’s Second Life’s seemingly broad-based appeal (e.g., “Calling all Cultures“) for new residents that doesn’t resonate (in our increasingly fragmented world)? Would a vertical, i.e., a channel-by-channel approach work better for customer acquisition? I’m again reminded of Chris Anderson’s recent proclamation.

“The world does not need another mass market social network” and that “micro-focused social networks” are where it’s all headed.

Anyway, Happy 5th Birthday Second Life. Hopefully your name will ring true.