Virtual Vision 2020 recently set up a Google+ community to host discussions related to a community plan in Second Life. Someone had posted in the thread an observation they had upon entering Second Life for the purpose of exploring the platform for marketing their business. They said it felt empty like no one was around and did not think it would be valuable for business development.
This view has been shared by others who report on the failure of "real life" business efforts in Second Life. What is interesting is that in all of these is that the Second Life platform or environment is identified as the cause of the failure. The conclusion is that because of these failures, setting up a presence in Second Life isn't worth pursuing.
Of course, those who understand the environment and who spend considerable time there have commented on the absurdity of this. They usually point out that the business did not take the right approach. Yet people who have not spent time in Second Life don't seem to understand this.
But those familiar with Second Life are right – Second Life has its own culture, much in the way countries have their own cultures. When US-based businesses try to open up a market in China in a manner similar to their US operations and experience failure, people don't say, "Oh, they are wasting their time." They don't blame China for being China. They don't dredge up all the negative aspects of the society as reasons people should stay away. Instead, people blame the company for ignoring the culture and not fitting their approach to what the Chinese expect.
So why is it so different with Second Life, and what strategies can we identify to correct this misconception and attitude? Can emulating what is done offline work? Companies trying to successfully move into the market in another country typically hire people or firms to help them make that transition. Is this what we need to develop and a service that needs to be offered for those considering a move into Second Life?
These are important questions to explore if we want to ensure successful economic and business development in Second Life. It seems one newly formed effort in Second Life, the Centre for Business Development, might be attempting to address these questions and services. You can read more about their mission and goals on their website at: http://businessdevelopmentcentresl.wordpress.com/about/.