Auntie’s Method for Undermining Your Corporate Brand.
Establishing your corporate brand in a virtual world can have enormous benefits. It also has a number of risks associated with it. Failing to attract worthwhile coverage from consumers and/or media is one. Another is attracting large numbers to your brand and failing to capitalise on it. Or worse, actually alienating your consumers through lack of leadership and planning.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is Australia’s answer to the BBC. It is a wholly-owned government broadcaster charged with providing comprehensive and innovative broadcasting services both within Australia and internationally. For a little over a year, the ABC has had an island presence within the virtual world of Second Life®. Given its charter this is a very rational and correct action for it to undertake.
Plonking down an island and putting your logo on it, however, is not the end product. Virtual worlds are only another weapon in your marketing arsenal. Much like your corporate web page they need dynamic content to ensure consumers return regularly for updates. Unfortunately, the ABC Island is like a bad web page from the mid-nineties complete with blink tags and animated gifs. The island has become unusable for many of its consumers due to the introduction of many superfluous scripts, that cause all but the latest and most powerful computers to lag and even crash. What a way to annoy your visitors: crash their computer.
And then there’s the content. Just as with a web page, virtual worlds need to give consumers a reason to visit. Repeatedly. The ABC Island’s strange attractor was not the 50+ years of award-winning broadcasting content. It wasn’t the chance to meet and give feedback to the multitude of stars and programme creators. It wasn’t even an exhibition of great new talent, for which the ABC has a long and cherished history. It was a sandbox. A place where Second Life residents can come and build their own content.
That may sound like a very democratic and innovative idea, but unfortunately it has intrinsic problems. Allowing any resident to build is like allowing anybody to post comments on your web page. Yes, you will get feedback. But you will also get LOTS of spam. Griefers they are called in Second Life. Anti-social idiots that enjoy disrupting others with noisy and bothersome scripts. It’s a security nightmare, annoys consumers and hurts your corporate brand.
Much of the ABC’s problems could be fixed easily. A show of leadership. The development of a concise and clear plan with obtainable goals. The ABC currently seems to lack both of these with much of the driving force over the last year coming not from the paid staff but from the small group of loyal volunteers (and even they are beginning to show the strain).
Virtual worlds are not hard. They are just like every other facet of your marketing engine. They require an achievable plan, great content and strong promotion. Do that and you will see massive returns. Fail and you’re only wasting money.Tags: abc, branding, Marketing, rant, Second Life