Through building an art career in a virtual world, I have learned a few valuable lessons in promoting oneself in the virtual world (or any other world). I also share some of my virtually made artworks.
The Lessons of a Second Life Artist and the Secrets of Promoting Oneself in the Virtual World
The Lessons of a Second
Life Artist and the Secrets of Marketing Oneself in the Virtual World Lance Shields (a.k.a. Juria Yoshikawa)
<ul><li>“ Her” story begins… </li></ul><ul><li>After
a short stint with a male avatar (AV), on March 16, 2007 Juria Yoshikawa a female virtual artist was born in the Second Life (SL). She was initially created as a part of my research on social media for my company. But over time she took on a life of her own and she became a passion that quite literally changed my life. From this experience I am fortunate to have gained valuable lessons in the secrets of marketing oneself in the virtual world which I will share with you. </li></ul>
<ul><li>While other artists have covered
similar territory, Juria’s artwork pushes the limits of what can be done using only the material of SL (3D forms, code, motion and interactity to achieve true immersiveness. For this she was named the #2 in Creation Arts in the Best of SL Artist Contest in 2007. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The path to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ virtual” fame </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Now that I’ve spent a
few minutes trying to convince you that I am a famous SL artist, I’ll explain why you should care about my little Juria? The answer is simple. Juria (and myself through her) have learned the in’s and out’s of virtual promotion. So how can a person or any entity (product, brand or company) become well-known in a virtual space like SL? There are 10 secrets! Ready? Juria and I hope so. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why care about Juria? </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>1. Use groups to be
the life of the party </li></ul><ul><li>In SL there are 100s of groups of shared interest to join. In Juria’s case, she is a member of the Art & Artist Network, the largest art group in SL with 1328 members. The key for Juria is to become the life of the party by posting notices regularly in an engaging way to draw an audience to her pieces. A few tricks: be outrageous, be controversial, use visual aids, giveaway free stuff. Groups are very viral! </li></ul>
<ul><li>2. Use your contact list
(almost) shamelessly </li></ul><ul><li>Over the past year, Juria has put together a contact list of 200+ people. Like any SNS, even more so in SL, your contact list is a measure of how much reach you have. Juria is notorious for IMing 50 or more people to announce improv works or events and then teleporting those interested to the site. Usually getting a dozen or more takers. Imagine doing that in real life (rl)! Advantage: real time contact with a large number of friends and fans. </li></ul>
<ul><li>3. Events, event, events! </li></ul><ul><li>Let's
face it, SL can be a lonely place. Most people come into SL with the idea that they can meet folks from anywhere. The discos and gambling spots are mega-popular but get old really fast. Clearly there's a need to create happenings where people can gather and experience together. With this in mind, Juria and her collaborators created a whole slew of art and musical events advertised at least a week ahead to draw the maximum numbers of AVs. The feedback from participants was extremely positive and most were repeat visitors. </li></ul><ul><li>KEY POINT: let people participate by wearing costumes, dancing, making noise, and expressing their opinions. </li></ul>Dozens of AVs wore these lanterns to become part of the art.
<ul><li>4. Keep it fresh to
keep them coming back! </li></ul><ul><li>People in SL get tired of experiences faster than any place I've ever seen. You can set up an immersive art show of lights and music that attracts 100s of people one week and is dead the next. What a drag, right? Well, with that in mind Juria organized a 1 month show in 4 parts so that each week would have a completely different installation and composer's music. The result was it kept people coming back since each week's piece built on the next to create suspense. </li></ul><ul><li>KEY POINT: People like to know that there's more to come like a movie that's “to be continued”. It gives them something to look forward to and a reason for being in SL. </li></ul>
<ul><li>5. Be a humble extrovert
</li></ul><ul><li>I have to admit to letting a little virtual fame go to my head from time to time. Happens to the best of us but it's a big turn off. People in the virtual world like the real world, are attracted to you for what you have to share, teach or entertain them in a social context. They are quick to pick up on self-centered behavior and are most attracted to outgoing yet self-deprecating personalities. Lighten up, be yourself, create dialog. </li></ul>
<ul><li>6. Sharing the fame draws
more eyeballs </li></ul><ul><li>Besides the terrific learning that comes with collaborating with others, sharing the stage can be a great promotional opportunity. When you share the stage something magical happens. By carefully considering the alliances you make, your collaborator's talent can amplify your own. Your collaborator's fans become your fans and visa versa. And the scale of your project grows. </li></ul>
<ul><li>7. This isn't real life.
Make it out of this world! </li></ul><ul><li>OK, this is my chance to rant a bit. If anything in the SL experiment has been a failure, it's that people settle for emulating the real world. Houses look like houses, AVs look like Barbies, art hangs on walls. Jeesh! Yet I know firsthand that people respond really well to experiences that are out of this world. I don't mean make it strange, I mean use the tools and metaphors in this 3D world that bring about new forms and new culture. That's what people want. That's the SL dream. And that leads to making a name for yourself. </li></ul>
<ul><li>8. Make your vision grandiose!
</li></ul><ul><li>In SL, limitations on scale simply don't exist. So be bold and brave. Dream big and build bigger. Since Juria discovered “megaprims” (the name for huge 3D forms that can no longer be created but still in wide circulation), her work took a leap and she became known for making work that challenged people's ways of looking at space and looking itself. </li></ul>
<ul><li>9. Put your message all
</li></ul><ul><li>over the place! </li></ul><ul><li>Google “Juria Yoshikawa” and you get 4210 results . Clearly she's </li></ul><ul><li>doing something right. What has happened as Juria took SL by </li></ul><ul><li>storm was she has taken advantage of the web: personal blog, </li></ul><ul><li>art news blogs, photo sharing, art community sites to </li></ul><ul><li>get the message out and draw people into SL to see the work. </li></ul><ul><li>What's also important to know is who are your connectors and mavens (remember the Tipping Point?) who will spread the word for you. You betcha those are the first people she IMs when she has something new. </li></ul>
10. Pace yourself. Don't be
a flash in the pan! And last but not least, a word of warning for all those artists, marketers, brand builders, business folks or whoever... it simply isn't true that there can never be too much good stuff. The newspapers want news. The people want fresh. At a certain point Juria began to over-saturate the art groups and her contacts with just too many announcements of new builds. People can only take so much of one brand or one song before it just becomes noise. Be wise and only share as much as people want to take.
And that was 10. If
you haven't figured out yet, many of these tips around virtual promotion could easily be applied to real world campaigns. Whether it's a single avatar or a global brand the point is to take full advantage of the crowd, be grandiose in your gestures, use all the channels you can and be humble in your fame. Juria and I wish you the best in your journey. BLOG http://memespelunk.org PHOTOS http://flickr.com/photos/lancesh/ CONTACT [email_address]