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Friday, July 27, 2007

Postcards from Second Life: Virtual Recruiting Gets Hot

While many are likely to keep pouring on more haterade (such as here and here) and proclaim virtual worlds to be little more than a fad, many companies are finding that one of the more practical applications for them are as a good tool for recruiting. Check the CNBC segment on it here (short ad at the beginning).

It's interesting, while I can understand all of the skepticism around virtual worlds, I'm surprised more people don't acknowledge the similarities to mass reactions to the Internet in the 90's. Look at how far the internet has come in 10 years: in 1995, did anyone (besides perhaps the most techie guys out there) envision a future internet of MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, podcasts, etc and the tremendous impact all of these have on our lives?

Personally I don't think it's unrealistic to picture a similar path as virtual worlds become more user-friendly, visible exposure makes them less weird/freaky to the masses, brands learn how to actually do something of value instead of putting up buildings for no reason (and in particular, how to make it easy for people to get started and comfortable in-world ), and we all become more savvy at finding ways for them to provide value in our own lives.


Daria said...

Yes, you are right and the scepticism isn't good. The majority of SL criticism is bound in our fear of the unknown. What worries me is the fact that we are using the real life, traditional logic when talking or working with virtual realities. It doesn't work there, it is just too complicated. It is enough to look at the marketing actions taken in SL and people's reactions - the real life practices are copied and it doesn't work. Above all this technology isn't the best, things aren't working smoothly - users simply hate as they don't want any hasle, there are enough of them in the real life. For me SL is wonderful research, experiment and innovation space where we can learn a lot but we need the time to create and understand the rules of the game for virtual worlds in the first place.

avin said...

Thanks for your comment Daria.

Interested, if you're willing to share, whether you are a member/resident of any other virtual worlds? I've been putting together quite a bit of research recently on them, and am always curious to hear from those who are likely much more familiar with the worlds than I am.

James Gordon-MacIntosh said...

Was just writing this up on our own blog and did some research, came across the post and thought that the comments were apposite ...

Finally, the PR-generating fad that is "brands going into Second Life" seems to be coming to an end.

It was good while it lasted, the media coverage was a blast, but most entrants have realised that the booze is finished and it's time to go home ...

As Mark Ritson reports in this week's Marketing, the first brand in, American Apparel, has announced that it is to close its store in the virtual community, citing a lack of sales. Starwood Hotels, which was also an early adopter, is to flog off its Aloft property and exit stage left.

Ritson quotes Joseph Jaffe, who took Coke into Second Life. Asked why take Coke into the virtual world, he responds: "So when people ask, 'why Second Life?' I ask, 'why not?'."

Which is exactly the problem with so much use of digital communication and adoption of Web 2.0: somewhere along the line, the medium was put before the message (to the point that brands have found themselves trying to change their message or tone to fit with the medium).

This is totally arse-about-face: the message is what brands need to get right - the media choice should be the result, not the driving force.

Don't get me wrong, there is undoubtedly room for the new tools that social media offer to be used purely tactically - as experiments with new forms of communication. But if everyone is making tactical use of digital media, they are on a high road to imminent failure.

Social media is a many-splendoured thing, but the industry remains peppered by brands not thinking through the strategic imperative behind their use of it.

Social media - and blogs particularly - has a role for microbrands: it is a fabulous way of getting the message out there and engendering community. So Innocent's blog, or Stormhoek's use of social media work precisely because the medium fits the brand positioning and the message, and hence, they deliver.

And successful use of blogs aren't restricted to tiny consumer products businesses with quirky owners - PwC runs one of the best blogs reporting on tax regulations, aimed at the army of finance specialists around the world and incredibly well-read by those in the know.

However, these cases work precisely because social media was such an appropriate medium for the brands, their positioning and the message they wanted to convey.

The out-take of all of this is that the communications industry is prone to rushing into the biggest new thing (or becoming comically fearful of it, witness the PVR debate of a few years ago, we seem over that one now).

Nowhere is this better shown than in our use of social media: a more measured approach is needed and let's get the message back out in front and worry less that we might not be using every new media channel that comes our way ...

Anonymous said...

The issue as I see it that large corp's just dont seem to want to put the effort into making the social networks work for them. I think they will put money into them and then jump out if it is not easily won success. Certainly they have their reasons and that is their call.

My firm Semper Internation is one of those first firms in, we were the first staffing firm in, although the big ones Like Kelly and Manpower are now saying they are.

These networks do work if you apply yourself to them and you develop the social side of it. We had been successful in Second Life in 3 primary ways.

1) We have extracted contractors out of SL and use them now.

2) We use it for Internal Semper training and communication.

3) We hold mass recruitment parties at our SIm and bring people into SL to prescreen them and pick the ones we want interview in the RL. You can read more detail on our blog:

In the end, t takes a lot of people power and effort to message these things into a benefit. However, the next generation is going to be VERY adapted to this type of environment and that is something a lot of people need to understand.

I personally love SL for recruitment purposes.

Brian Regan
Semper International