I believe that Second Life, at the ripe old age of 18, is the perfect model of a mature, fully-evolved virtual world, which many newer entrants into the metaverse market would be very wise to study. And one of the things which those newer platforms would be smart to emulate, is the cultivation of a fervent and creative fanbase, who make and post content on all kinds of social media on the internet.
Second Life has a vibrant and thriving community of thousands and thousands of bloggers, vloggers, photographers, and machinima makers. Combine that with a flourishing ecosystem of programs and tools, such as the Black Dragon viewer, and you get a creative frenzy of activity which is, as yet, unmatched by any other social VR platform or virtual world (although VRChat comes close!). It’s essentially a self-sustaining marketing machine at this point, selling SL to a wide outside audience.
Second Life has even evolved its own particular brand of celebrity, such as those vloggers whose content attracts thousands of views on YouTube. You might call them virtual influencers! While I have been in (semi-) lockdown during the past year-and-a-half of the coronavirus pandemic, I have spent many an hour curled up on the sofa with my trusty iPad, watching some of these videos!
Some, like Cat Pink and Naria Panthar, tend to focus on Second Life shopping events and hunts. Others, like Meela Vanderbuilt and Carmen King, offer entertaining commentary as they go about their daily Second Lives. Here’s a recent example of a Carmen King video:
Now, Carmen King might not agree with your taste or sensibilities (I personally think she’s hilarious). But Carmen also vlogs regularly about her adventures in IMVU, the Sims 4, and games like Grand Theft Auto V, and I can tell you that this is exactly the sort of thing which intrigues her cross-over video audience, and tends to bring them into Second Life, to try it out for themselves. (I’m quite sure that any number of Sims players have ventured into SL because of Carmen’s videos.)
See the lesson here? If the newer social VR platforms were wise, they would create incentives (monetary or otherwise) to cultivate the users who create this sort of content. It’s the best and most natural form of advertising, that’s inspired by the fanbase of the platform, and driven by the enthusiasm of the creators themselves.
So my message. to all those companies which are toiling away, hoping to inherit the mantle of Second Life and become the next massive metaverse platform, is this: pay attention to your community, and encourage their creative pursuits! You might be pleasantly surprised at the spin-off benefits of cultivating and leveraging your fanbases. So go, get out there, and find your own Carmen King! 😉