Second Life, the Dash Deal and You. Welcome to the virtual Walmart

The cynic in me choked a little more when I finally read the details of the Dash Deal.  For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the term, it’s the latest marketing ploy from Linden Lab to try to make Second Life look popular and to use the social media version of recommendations to snare the unwitting.

The deal is classic marketing for all the wrong reasons.

For a start, it isn’t aimed at the user base in general.  The aim is to get current users to either like it on Facebook or to friend on Twitter – if you don’t want to do either then you miss out.  Bad luck for those who would prefer an email in your inbox or even to join an inworld group and get the group notice.  They do claim there’s a weekly email that will go out as well, but I’m betting it will happen well after the event, as usual only go to a subset of users and probably will say something like..  “see what you missed??  Give yet more data to Facebook that we don’t even get to see and as a bonus to us, show the rest of the Facebook universe that the 100,000 odd likes we have on our page weren’t actually bought in the same way others buy backlinks for their web sites.”  OK. paraphrasing here but certainly having to like the Facebook page or friend them on twitter has absolutely nothing to do with binding users a little more strongly to the platform and everything to do with cheap marketing and demonstrating just how unsuitable Second Life is for people who like social media. It’s certainly not aimed at those who don’t use the marketplace because of course the deal isn’t available inworld.

The way it works for content creators is simple, in exchange for your item being publicised in this supposed email, on twitter and on Facebook (via a link only, not even a pic by the look of it) you must reduce your price by 50% for the 24hr period as well as write the copy for the ad and provide the pics (with Linden Lab then making any modifications they see fit without your subsequent approval) and on top of the 50% reduction you must give half of each sale price to Linden Lab. The benefit is brand awareness, (in theory) at least 4 times the number of sales you would otherwise have had on the item and possibly some repeat custom later on.  As the businesses who have used Groupon type sites have discovered lately, the last one is rare but they do have people who will continually take advantage of the loss leaders – which means that the marketing is not value for money.

and the really sad thing?  It amply demonstrates that when everything is said and done that Linden Lab’s values are shoddy as ever and they still haven’t learnt basic PR and customer communication.  I’m beyond tired of Linden Lab positioning Second Life as something even less worthy than being the Wal-Mart of virtual worlds. Always cheap, always seeking to exploit its content creators in particular and its userbase in general and always appearing to go out of its way to not deliver anything that we’d recognise as a benefit.  If it goes well? Well, that’s not happened in Second Life. If it’s gone badly? Well, blame the users as that’s what we asked for.  It’s funny that I don’t ever remember asking for each deliverable to be a shoddy piece of shit but there you go, some of us must have.

I despair when I see Linden Lab demonstrating such a lack of understanding of, or confidence in, their product that they can only position Second life as a more immersive You Tube, or dress up your Barbie doll and do lifestyle of the rich and famous in 10 minutes. Linden Lab certainly has become more sophisticated in exploiting its userbase.  It really does leave a sour taste in the mouth.

As a little ray of light though..  Here’s a screenshot of the comments so far.  Of the 33 Likes for the post, 12 of them are liking various comments pointing out how unseemly the Dash Deal is and only one out of the 9 comments is positive.

I bet Linden Lab will be glad when the likes of me finally gives up on Second Life completely.  It must be so irritating having people who remember when there were more usable features and still hold out hope that one day Linden Lab will actually see us as customers to be cherished rather than a resource to be disregarded, except when useful.