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Companies Abandoning Second Life

The LA Times had a story last week about companies abandoning their presences on Second Life due to poor return on investment. From the sound of things, many companies that have stayed may not be long for the world:

But the sites of many of the companies remaining in Second Life are empty. During a recent in-world visit, Best Buy Co.’s Geek Squad Island was devoid of visitors and the virtual staff that was supposed to be online.

The schedule of events on Sun Microsystems Inc.’s site was blank, and the green landscape of Dell Island was deserted. Signs posted on the window of the empty American Apparel store said it had closed up shop.

The story gets to the heart of the matter when it says, “most firms were more interested in the publicity they received from their ties with Second Life than in the digital world itself.”

You see this all the time. Companies launch MySpace pages or Twitter accounts or iPhone versions with no rationale beyond getting a short term media hit. After the buzz dies down it becomes pretty clear that the emperor has no clothes.

I’d advise a more measured approach to these things. Companies that take the time to do some research and understand the culture of the communities they participate in will have a lot more success long term than those that dive in head first in search of a few press clips.