Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is grassroots advertising the answer for Active Worlds?

Of the things I would say that I am not, a social builder would be one of them.  This is probably perplexing if given any thought, because I enjoy building towns and even the occasional collaboration -- but that isn't my preference.  To be honest, I feel that I've come to a compromise with townbuilding because the projects I like to build are so massive -- mountain ranges, neighborhoods, cities -- that it would be impractical to have a single builder on the project.

This may explain some of my more recent projects, such as incentive neighborhoods in the Southern Highlands and Builder's Challenge. I tend to set up a context as a larger, pre-existing environment that builders come in and fill.  Still social in a way, but I'm never building alongside others -- I'm a before and after thought.

Either way, the challenge and experience gained by working with other builders in this way has been invaluable to me personally, so I'm always glad to see new builders coming through.  New builders have new ideas, and that can inspire all sorts of things in a project.  This sort of truth is behind my approval of a trend that citizen Urbane Chaos has taken to lately -- writing articles about Active Worlds around the web.  And what an article! Most everything I'd want to tell someone about Alphaworld is nicely formatted and ready to go on that page.  This should bring in new builders by the truckload, right?

Well, maybe.  I've dabbled in a bit of this myself -- with limited success.  If you follow the forums you may remember that we made last year during the There fiasco, which drew a few older members out of the woodworks.  I'll occasionally spread links on social networks and have taught others how to use them effectively, and personally I feel that this as a method of advertising has a lot of potential.  If you'll notice, Flagg has picked up on it in the past few months... utilizing re-tweeting to spread his message and starting a Facebook Fan Page to get the userbase mobilized in advertising.

Active Worlds hasn't really had any sort of advertising for years, and I think this may as well have been their un-official policy all along.  Word of mouth; if it's a good product, you'll tell your friends about it.  Before social networking, this was unreasonable... and the Active Worlds Universe has really suffered because of it.

These days... I don't know, is it?

I feel like a lot of us have given up on that route some time ago, but it may be worth it to revisit the idea.  In Urbane Chaos' example, I had never heard of hubpages before visiting... but they seem to have it all right there.  The method here is to write and article, and use their tools to add some pictures and make it visually interesting.  There are numerous feedback options -- including facebook integration -- that then allows readers to take the article and share it how they will.  In this particular case, some AW citizens have done so by sharing it on their facebook feed.

Other avenues have also seen success -- Flagg's retweet contest drew 12 retweets (about 7 more than I had anticipated), and reached at least a few hundred additional people because of it.  He threw in a prize for incentive, but I really see potential there.  A good number of tweets can get passed over before something really sticks, and it only takes one to get the attention of hundreds.

As social networking outlets gain in popularity, it seems that this idea that was once asinine and destructive may actually be viable now.  Given the current situation, I'd say it is worth a shot.  At least with these few anecdotes, I see the potential for a successful advertising campaign.

What do you think?

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