|On Thursday, June 25th, 2020 at the SL17B celebrations, the fourth of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held, featuring Linden Lab’s Marketing team, led by Brett Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, Darcy Linden, Maverick Linden, Tara Linden and Strawberry Linden.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The notes provided have been taken directly from the official video of the session, which is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the video are also provided for ease of reference.
|Table of Contents
- Due to the random approach taken in presenting subjects, this summary attempts to offer a logical flow to information by topic, and so does not follow the chronology of the session video.
- Audio extracts, where included, have been cleaned-up and balanced to remove pauses, repetitions, etc.
- Audience questions were taken at the end of the session (from the 52:00 mark in the video). However:
- As some were related to the core discussion topics, responses to them have been given under the appropriate topic heading below, with a time stamp to where they were asked in the video.
- Others – such as land fees, educational use of SL, etc. – were more thoroughly answered in the sessions with Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, summarised here, and / or with Patch Linden, summarised here. I therefore refer readers to those summaries.
- In places, information that is supplementary to the team’s comments is provided in square braces (i.e. [ and ]) are used in the body text below to indicate where this is the case.
- For more information on the Marketing Second of Life, please also refer to the following:
About The Marketing Team
- Brett: joined Linden Lab in 2007, and is a former music journalist who has interviewed David Bowie, Bjork, 2Pac, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder and more.
- Darcy Linden – Senior Marketing Manager – joined the Lab in 2018.
- Maveric Linden – Marketing Analyst – joined linden Lab in 2014, refers to himself as “the data guy”.
- Tara Linden – Marketing Content Specialist – joined Linden Lab in 2019.
- Strawberry Linden – Marketing Content Specialist – joined Linden Lab in 2019 (formerly resident Strawberry Singh).
- Primary focus is the acquisition of new users and retention of existing users in SL.
- Also work closely with other teams within LL such as Product and Engineering, and may be consulted about various SL features – Name Changes, user on-boarding processes, avatar customisation, etc., but the team is not necessarily the decision makers on such aspects of the platform.
- User acquisition takes a number of forms such as both paid and unpaid advertising campaigns using both traditional and digital media outlets.
- The team’s experience is broad-ranging: web analytics, advertising, public relations, journalism, e-commerce, editorial, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) – both of which (and their differences) are explained here -, social media marketing (SMM) and social media community management.
- More information on the team’s individual backgrounds and roles can be heard between 3:53-8:21.
What Impact has the Pandemic Had?
- Brett: on a human level, there have been a variety of reactions throughout LL.
- In terms of SL, there has been something of a resurgence of interest in the platform as a result of people having to maintain physical / social distancing / being in isolation.
- Whilst many are discovering / returning to the platform have done so because it offers a safe haven for social interaction and fun, some have been drawn to the platform due to its utility.
- The upturn in interest is being reflected in the media.
- Makes for an awkward dichotomy: on the one hand the world is caught within the throes of the pandemic, but professionally, the Lab and SL are benefiting.
Active User Numbers
- Brett: In April 2020 – regarded as the “peak” of the resurgence at the time of the event – the monthly active user count was “just shy” of 900,000.
- [Note a You Tube comment from @Secondlife Official indicates for June, the figure appears to be around the “lower mid-800,000s”.]
- This increase has been both new users and returning users who have not logged-in for some time.
- Darcy: Second life has actually been “growing steadily” in user numbers for the last few years, even with surge resulting from the pandemic, so the focus is on maintaining that broader growth trend.
Marketing and Second Life
What Are the Challenges Marketing Faces With Returning Users / New Users?
- Darcy: Residents tend to come in three “buckets”: new users; returning with little prior engagement; returning with significant prior engagement.
- Overall the issues new / returning users who have been absent a long time are facing are not any different during the pandemic as prior to it. They are generally all issues of which LL has been aware of and is trying to address.
- Part of the approach to issues is a case of “learn by doing” as much as anything else (just how hard is it to create and dress a new avatar?).
- However, as with much else with SL, until the Uplift project has been completed, there are unlikely to be significant changes that will further assist the new user experience / growing the number of retained users.
- Steeltoe Linden [referred to as being “back” on SL, so potentially a returnee from Sansar?] has a lot of ideas for improving the viewer UI in this regard.
- Strawberry Linden: the official Second Life You Tube channel includes a playlist of “official” tutorials and a playlist of community tutorials that can help new / returning users.
- [1:01:02-1:03:53] Darcy: tests have been going on directly and with community gateways (notably Firestorm) for the on-boards “first hour”. As a result of this, additional back-end technology that will be used on the learning islands to better monitor approaches to how new users learn and engage – what helps move them towards sticking, etc.
Diversity and Representation in Second Life Marketing
- Tara: LL has always believed that inclusiveness is an important element of Second Life, as is the freedom for people to positively express themselves.
- Events such as Black Lives Matter have helped underline the need to further emphasise this in marketing the platform.
- Representation is not just a matter of presenting images featuring a diverse array of avatars but also in normalising identities that exist outside of the “accepted” [e.g. straight, white, able-bodied] and accepting and presenting the outlook of minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, etc., is a valid position / proposition.
- Doing so helps those who identify recognise SL is a safe place for people to be where they are welcome to express themselves.