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What Brands Are Successful on Second Life? Those Who Build Community.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 8, 2007

Greg Verdino has an interesting post on which brands on Second Life are doing well and why. BigPond, Pontiac, IBM and Showtime have great “dwell” or traffic on Second Life, but BMW, AOL, American Apparel and Starwood do not.

That’s surprising—unless you think of community. Those brands that build community, get the avatars who want to hang out. Those that do one-offs, or try to simply sell product, do not.

According to Greg, IBM is successful because it uses Second Life to promote interaction within its own corporate community (employees, customers, business partners) regardless of geographic and organizational boundaries. IBM also uses SL to “engage in-world builders and scripters through their more recently launched IBM Codestation, which serves as a forum where users can access shared resident-created chunks of code.” Greg says IBM’s “dwell measure eclipses that of technology competitors Dell, Sun, Cisco and Intel— all of whom seem more focused on using SL as a platform to promote products and services.”

To succeed in SL, as with blogs and all social media, build community.

Reader Comments

Greg Verdino

May 9, 2007 1:42 AM

Thanks so much for the pick-up, Bruce! G


May 9, 2007 4:57 PM

Although you'll probably censor this, it's worth pointing out to you that you're inappropriately skewing Verdino's comments. He doesn't say "build community". He says "build relationships". Not the same thing.

One of the most successful brands in SL does not have a discernible "community" which gathers around to be counted and charted. Fact is, customers likely *never* return to the distribution point/store. Nor do they regularly gather together in groups. Thus, you're comment, "To succeed in SL, as with blogs and all social media, build community", is effectively incorrect.

By the way, the metric being measured, "dwell", is of seriously questionable worth. Second Life is a *virtual* world. Real world limitations and methodologies don't necessarily apply, and straitjacketing real world in-the-box methods onto virtual worlds is sometimes a mistake.

Darren Herman

May 10, 2007 4:08 AM

It's not enough to just 'build' in Second Life. You need to actively promote it.

If you build it & promote it = they will come


May 11, 2007 2:52 PM

Please define "successful".Does it mean "avatars who want to hang out" ? Is that success ? Does it bring in more money ? Does it increase siginificant overall brand awareness ?

Before telling us what to do to be "successful" in Second Life i think you really should elaborate on what "successful" really means in your point of view and why.

Bruce Nussbaum

May 11, 2007 2:58 PM

I think you're aiming your request at Greg but I'll give it a shot. The definition here of "successful" is building a regular community of people who continue to interract with the island, not just come once or twice. I think that is what "dwell" is about, dwelling about.


May 11, 2007 3:16 PM


actually the request was aimed at you so thanks for responding; however i still fail to see why building a community of "people" in SL to interact with the island should neccessarily be considered a "success".

Again, does the fact you have some sort of community in SL mean more sales/leads/profits for your real world business ? Neccessarily? Or just maybe? Or even not at all? Does it mean increased brand awareness that results in measurable sales?

My point is, you can be successful in all kinds of activities - like tennis, world of warcraft, origami, and what not.But does it actually help your real world business in *any way* ?

So where is being "successful" in SL by your definitions different from being successful in say playing an instrument or whatever your hobby is in regards of your BUSINESS ?


May 11, 2007 3:23 PM

i stand corrected in that my initial post should have indeed been directed at Greg rather than you. I just realized :)


December 2, 2008 7:13 AM

Building beehives requires a new way of looking at the world. The main task of management, when working with a community, changes from supervising subordinates to enabling colleagues. To bring this know-how to bear on organizational needs, managers need to cultivate relationships built on trust and healthy growth.

Link Building


December 8, 2008 8:52 PM

Not being schooled in business practices, I'm going to put in m two cents worth anyway. Thinking from a retail perspective, the John Doe company opens a brick and mortar store to sell widgets. Everyone needs widgets, so they come to the John Doe store. The store is the focus of the community.

So going from that, I'd venture to say that IBM didn't plan the community to focus on it's products, but planed the destination (store) around the need for it's services. The community developed due to the fact that IBM adjusts its services to the developing community. Perhaps a symbiotic relationship.


November 20, 2009 9:37 PM

As a Second LIfe user since 2006...SL as we call it, is basically all about fashion and looking fashionable while playing the roles and games and sports there. It's like playing with a virtual doll, your avatar, that you can basically make look very cool. Many very very talented clothiers/designers in SL are reallllly good! Their myriad of brand names are instantly recognizable by shoppers and residents, they could EASILY in my opinion..leap from digital designs to real world fashion clothiers and accessorizers. They are THAT good .

So, if you want to talk about brand.. some of the coolest 'new' labels are being created right now ! Will I give you some of their names? Nope, too many to list but most of their names are pretty cool and may be coming to real life botique near you.

Success is loving what you do. To some it's simply being fashionable. In real life I call it, survival with style.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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