There is a popular misconception that it is easy to make money in virtual worlds people even believe that there paths can be paved with gold.
This is a myth, similar to the one that anyone can make money on the stock market. Both come from the impression that some people have made it very rich for very little effort or investment. However, like most things that yield high dividends it is due to working the system and having knowledge – preferably from an ‘insider’ source.
As it was with the now failing stock market, everyone’s cousin is suddenly an expert on this matter. Uncle Bob is now a Digital Media expert. After his job as a shelf stacker at Woolworths, he now turns his talent to networking in virtual worlds and engaging within social networks.
Auntie Dora has become a PR exec in Digital Media with a list of clients that don’t know exactly what she’s doing for them. However, her PR sounded good so they are confident that she knows what she’s doing. Thankfully they haven’t got a clue, because she hasn’t either. For her, at last, her long chats over the garden wall are paying dividends in baffling people with her rhetoric.
Previously unemployed cousins are now Heads of Digital Media in companies they founded themselves. It sounds good anyway and because they used to carry the tea tray in a PR firm they know all about PR too. These people all get away with it because we, the rest of the world, are the uninitiated in this new digital world.
It is easy for anyone to become a Digital Media guru. It is a young discipline with a low cost of entry. All you need is free accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Upcoming, Plick and a few virtual worlds, such as Second Life. Next step is to get someone to write about you – any online or media press will do. You can even give yourself a false identity and write about your alter ego so you become a publisher and blogger as well.
Finally, publicise yourself as being the best PR for digital media. This is a sure fire way to grab companies’ attention. They will immediately look up to you as someone with some credibility and knowledge of the situation, mainly because they have no knowledge on this area themselves and are groping in the dark more than you are.
Congratulations, you are now a Digital Media expert.
This is a scary scene and not uncommon. At this point, if you represent a company or your own enterprise, you would do well to remember the dot com bubble where everyone got on the bandwagon and some got sorely burnt. Virtual or digital media space is the new ‘dot com’ – or ‘dot con’ bubble if you get it wrong.
‘Me too’ is a very compelling scenario and no one wants to be left out in the cold. However, this phenomenon is moving along at such a rate that no one can keep up. Either people are afraid of being left behind so grab whatever looks like the best eye-candy or alternatively are too blinded by media headlights to move at all.
My advice is, as with all innovative technologies, when faced with a new environment or technical innovation follow best practices used in the past when adopting new technology.
Check out your provider for their track record, speak to their existing and previous clients to assess satisfaction. There are already a lot of disaffected and disillusioned companies out there that spent a lot of money for very little return. It would no do your CV any good if you were to help your company become one of them.
I hope this illuminates potential pitfalls in this expanding market. Please post a comment here should you need further opinion.