Engagement in Virtual Worlds

One of the first question companies ask about the use of virtual worlds in their marketing strategy has to do with R.O.I. Last december, Forrester research, published a study which highlighted the power of virtual worlds.
Forrester’s Key Findings on virtual worlds are as follows:
# Unprecedented depth of engagement with consumers.
# Access to an audience that is difficult to reach via other channels
# Newer worlds offer better opportunities for cross-channel tracking and more targeted audiences.
# Virtual merchandising resonates with youth — and can be very cost-effective.

In any kind of relationship, engagement is the key, and in social media, this should be a must, unless you plan a philantropic action only... With Linden Lab announcing a new user interface by the end of the year, we should be able to get over one of the major restriction which now leads to evict a lot of people who naturally would engage if they could have a better user experience.
In the meantime, we have to work at training people, but once they are familiar with the Second Life viewer, they manage pretty well and engage rather quickly.
In any case, I believe corporates & education entities should not wait until all conditions are filled to include virtual worlds in their development. Authenticity in brand communication and operationnal marketing into virtual worlds are right now a fantastic way to reach an early adopters community, experiment and grow with it.
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