Somnium Times Covers News and Events on the Blockchain-Based Social VR Platform Somnium Space

The Somnium Times website

I may have been belabouring the point lately, but I still feel, quite strongly, that many of the newer social VR platforms have not been promoting themselves very effectively lately. I have written before about how Second Life’s bloggers, vloggers, and livestreamers promote SL, saying:

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!). Itโ€™s essentially a self-sustaining marketing machine at this point, selling SL to a wide outside audience…

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.

Well, today I want to spotlight a great example of someone who has done just that, promoting the blockchain-based social VR/virtual world platform Somnium Space. Somnium Times is a website and an associated YouTube channel focused on news and events in Somnium Space, by Marc Demar. Here’s an example video:

Yes, that’s right, in much the same way that I originally started this blog four years ago to focus on Sansar, Marc has started his website and channel to focus on what’s happening in Somnium Space. Every social VR platforms out there should be asking themselves: What do I have to do to find someone like Marc Demar?

And if you can’t find someone to volunteer to do it because they’re such a fan of your platform, perhaps you should consider how to better cultivate those raving fans. You might want to ask yourself if there are ways or tools (like the Black Dragon viewer) to allow those fans to create high-quality, compelling content to spread via social media. Perhaps, you should consider even taking the step to (gasp!) pay someone to create sponsored content to advertise your world. (If you’re interested, here are my rates for advertising and sponsored blogposts. Was that subtle enough for you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

The point I am trying to make is this: you can’t just create a platform, then sit back and do nothing to either a) promote it, or b) enable other people to promote it. The platforms are not just going to magically sell themselves (as Sansar has discovered to its detriment over the past four years). As RuPaul says: You have to work!

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk ๐Ÿ˜‰

Savvy Promotion of Social VR and Virtual Worlds: Learning Valuable Marketing Lessons from Second Life

Meela Vanderbuilt’s YouTube page

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sansar Editorial: Where Is the Marketing?

The New Sansar Update Load Screen:
A Focus Squarely on Live Events

Why did Sansar fail?

And no, I do not consider Sansar a success, despite the most valiant efforts of the remaining staff who are still working on the platform, and the COMETS, a small group of hard-working volunteers creating and promoting events. Linden Lab themselves did not consider Sansar a success. Why else would the company sell the money-losing platform to Wookey, a company known for buying other companies which have fallen into financial distress, in a last-ditch effort to turn some sort of profit out of it?

What disturbs me most about the change in ownership is that Wookey does not seem to be doing anything different from what Linden Lab has done. The focus remains squarely on live events, but so far, I do not see a whole hell of a lot of those happening, aside from the Monstercat: Call of the Wild series of concerts (okay, there was also a Virtual Rave Prom last Friday, with DJ Yultron).

If this is supposed to be a live events platform, where are all the (NON-volunteer driven) events? Where are the performers? We should have had some announcements by now, surely. During the change in ownership, Sansar lost a lot of those events, and I do not see a lot of new events to replace those that were lost.

Tong Zou, a YouTuber who recently posted a lightly-edited one hour and 40 minute video of his adventures exploring Sansar, had this to say at the very end of his video, after finding Sansar essentially empty in his travels, and only finding a handful of other avatars hanging out at the Nexus:

I mean, this is pretty much the only players on Sansar right now, which is really sad, because in my opinion, Sansar has the best worlds out of any social VR app, but they have the least people, so what the heck? Why do AltspaceVR and VRChat have more people than here, I don’t get it. Not enough marketing or something, I dunno. This is all the people in Sansar. Give me a break. Linden Lab has got to do a better job of promoting this game. This is just sad. This game deserves better than this. This app deserves better than this. C’mon, there only about 10 people here across the entire app.

Tong Zou hits the nail on the head when he says that the company (no longer Linden Lab, but Wookey) needs to actively promote Sansar. If the Wookey-owned Sansar is doing any marketing or promotion, I sure the hell am not seeing any evidence of that. And if they are hoping that word-of-mouth advertising is going to work to attract people to Sansar, they are badly mistaken.

Seriously, what the hell are they doing? From my perspective, Sansar is simply drifting aimlessly. Just because you’ve built a social VR platform that allows for the creation of beautiful worlds, and allows for customizable avatars, and supports a marketplace for content creators to earn money, you can’t just set it out there, among all the current and upcoming competition (e.g. Fortnite Party Royale, Facebook Horizon), and just expect it to grow on its own, without promotion. There’s simply too much else out there competing for attention.

For example, Oasis, the Chinese-based social VR platform I wrote about a while back, has recently done promotions with a number of smaller YouTube vloggers to promote their platform (here, here, here, and here are four examples). I can’t remember the last time I came across a sponsored YouTube video for Sansar.

Where is the marketing push? Sansar isn’t just going to magically sell itself.

Daisy Winthorpe Launches the “I Love Sansar” Campaign

In an effort to promote Sansar, dauntless Sansar user and content creator Daisy Winthorpe has launched a social media campaign. Here are some of the images that are already being circulated:

Daisy Winthorpe’s Avatar

I also learned from Daisy today the the COMETS program set up by Linden Lab staff to host and promote events in Sansar (which I had originally reported on here) is no longer operational. That is concerning to me, but not a total surprise. Daisy tells me:

It’s not a big secret. We are still “alive” but not getting any missions [from Linden Lab].

Daisy is to be thanked and commended for her promotional efforts!