Play by Rules or Get Unwanted Attention

    January 15, 2007

Whether the rules of any given social media space are written or unwritten, it is important for marketers and communicators entering these spaces to learn them.

We at crayon learned the hard way when we claimed a “first” in Second Life, earning the wrath of the metaverse’s residents.

The Second Life Herald reports that Dell Computers seems to have managed to get around the requirements imposed on everyone else in the acquisition of the company’s in-world island. In your SL avatar profile, there is a place that indicates payments made. The owner of the Dell island-an avatar named Pyrrha Dell-shows none, leading the Herald to ponder, “Did Dell get a sweetheart deal from the Lindens? – and how can Pyrrha pay her bills? If you can use an unverified account to own an island is this a way to launder money?”

I don’t know how big a deal this is-I’m sure some SL regulars can tell me-but the point is that (according to the Herald) that “a number of metaverse residents…wonder how Dell makes land tier payments to the Linden Lab game gods.” This kind of attention is a distraction for an organization that is working hard to rehabilitate its image and integrate new channels into its marketing efforts. If this turns out to be nothing, Dell should count its blessings and redouble its efforts to make sure its approach to Second Life-and any other social media endeavor-play by the rules. (They’ve done a good job on their blog.)

In any social media environment, you should learn the rules of the road before you get in your car. Otherwise, you could get a different kind of attention than you bargained for.


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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.