As regular readers of this blog will know, I have been experiencing and experimenting with Second Life, a 3D experiment in social networking and consumer creation, for that last two months specifically looking at how real-life brands are tacking this online phenomenon.
-- When I first wrote on SL on September 29 there were about 800,000 SL members with an average of 10,000 people on SL at any one time. Today the resident count is at 1.6 million (yes it has doubled in just under two months) and the average simultaneous online user count seems to be between 12,000 and 16,000.
-- Average daily spend with SL by its residents has grown from USD 500,000 to between USD 600,000 and USD 650,000.
-- The IT infrastructure supporting SL seems to taking strain with teleporting problems apparently increasing (teleporting is favoured Star Trek way of getting around SL) as well as avatars (your digital persona inside SL) freezing more often.
-- Real-world digital marketing agency AKQA and US-based GSD&M ad agency have set up their virtual offices in SL, joining Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide.
-- Big name brand Dell has just arrived in SL joining other major brands such as IBM, Adidas, Toyota, Reuters and the BBC. The Electric Sheep Company and Edelman have announced a competition for SL's best business plan. A British tabloid and radio station also plan to create a second home in SL.
-- However, the arrival of brands and their ad agencies have upset some SL residents who fear the crass commercialization of their world. Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s offices were subjected to protests by a SL mob, who turned up and started simulating various sex acts.
-- MIT Advertising Lab quoted Crackunit.com as saying "Why aren't advertisers, or people who are trying to 'import' brands from their First Life forced to wear some kind of huge advertising helmet? It'd protect them from rocks thrown by irate Second Lifers as well as marking them out as advertisers."
-- Catherine Smith, marketing director at Linden Lab, offers a piece of advice to MIT’s readers: "Keep it fresh, build the foundation and let your customers join in creating the experience, keep them involved, offer social context (discussions, parties, games, etc.), create connections to the real world - website, content uploads, social tools for connecting and sharing successes."