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Monday, July 11, 2011

When Traffic Attacks!

Most merchants in Second Life would love to have a higher traffic count. “Traffic” is basically how many avatars visit your land, and how long they spend there. Your traffic score used to affect your Search ranking, but even now that it doesn’t do that, folks still want lots of traffic, because it generally means increased sales.

To gain traffic, merchants advertise. They take out classified ads, they form store groups and send out notices of new products and sales. They put up billboards in world, or small affiliate stores that offer a partial product line and a landmark to the main store. They list products on the Marketplace.

One of the most sought-after forms of advertising is to get yourself listed in the official “Destination Guide”. The Guide is a set of places chosen by Linden Lab, and the Destinations are updated with new entries every week or so, while the oldest entries are taken off the list. The places in the Guide are the ONLY places that newcomers using the Basic viewer mode can gain access to, and they’re also accessible with a single button click in the Advanced viewer mode, and from the SL website.

So, let me tell you what it’s like to get yourself some of this wonderful free visibility: it sucks. Yes, that surprised me too, but I saw this happen to an acquaintance of mine this weekend.

Siggy Romulus owns Siggy’sWaterWorks, an entire region devoted to swimming pools and other items related to water recreation. His products are top-notch; I own one of his diving boards and some of his pool floats and beach towels and swimmer gadgets. His store is a fun place; if you visit it, wear your bathing suit and have fun checking out the pools, the water slides, and the other stuff set out as demos.

Recently, someone (not Siggy himself) got the WaterWorks listed in the Destination Guide. When that happened, his traffic count went through the roof! “Well,” I hear you say, “That must have made him very happy.” Um…no. The people who showed up were crowds of newbies and semi-newbies who seldom bought anything, but cluttered up the place by rezzing houses, vehicles, and all manner of junk. They treated Siggy’s sim as their own personal campground. The WaterWorks became remarkably like Waterhead or any other Linden Infohub crowded with jerks, ne’er-do-wells, and troublemakers.

Siggy had to recruit a number of new managers with parcel enforcement powers. I watched as they stood around armed to the teeth, booting out the worst offenders, and shouting “Buy our shit or get out!” Siggy himself took to wearing a giant tarantula avatar in order to intimidate the mob. There’s a thread about this ongoing incident over on SL Universe.
Spider-Siggy Under Attack by the Pink Hammer Squad
I used to think getting Masocado in the Destination Guide would be a real achievement. Now I know better.

(Oh, one last thing. If you go to the WaterWorks to see the party for yourself…buy some shit, OK?)

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