Telstra: We pulled out of Second Life to follow our customers

Telstra’s decision to pull the plug on its presence in virtual world Second Life was a pragmatic one based on the small number of customers who visited the Big Pond island, the Adtech conference was told.  

Speaking at a panel debate on social media, Karen Ganschow, Telstra’s executive director of relationship marketing said: “The activity levels were dropping and we had to make a commercial call. There was a group of people who were outraged, but we devoted our rescources to Twitter and YouTube. We went where the customer is and where the conversations about telstra are happening.”

Telstra made the move last last year after a two year presence in Second Life. The virtual world had seen a huge number of new visitors, and much press discussion, but failed to find a place as a mainstream social media presence.

Ciaran Norris, Mindshare’s global head of social media, told the conference: “Businesses bought the hype and jumped in too soon. For most users, choosing your name and working out how to walk is probably as much as they did.”

Despite having withdrawn from Second Life, Ganschow argued that brands need to plan that any social media presence is long term, rather than just for the duration of a campaign. Last year also saw Telstra close its Now We Are Talking blog at short notice. However, Ganschow said that Telstra will now stick with any social media iniattives it launches.

She said: “It’s a courtship, not a speed date. It’s like having a great party and inviting your friends and come midnight kicking them out.

“Having learned what we now know, we will keep every new launch live and active.

“We get bored long before our customers have even woken up and worked out what our message is.”

Meanwhile Nielsen’s director of analytics Mark Higginson warned agencies against raising client expectations about what social media can deliver. He said: “If you set up the expectation that buzz will equate to sales, clients will go away inappropriately optimistic. We need to keep the lid on over inflation of hype. Otherwise we’ll be in the same space we were where everyone wanted a viral video.”

And, Nick Love, executive director of business development at Fox Interactive Media conceded that the company’s MySpace had lost its way. He said: “In the bad old days of MySpace, we grew into silos and failed to innovate and as a result we are where we are today.”

He predicted: “In two years time we will be talking about how MySpace has become an integral part of the entertainment space.”


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