Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Doctor Who SL Community - 2012

With the end of 2011 almost upon us and the beginning of a new year ahead I thought it was about time I layed out the basic plans of whats in store for the community as a whole for 2012.

Almost everyone knows that when it comes to marketing the Doctor Who community of SL outside of SL itself the only tangible link to the outside is with the Doctor Who: Podshock podcast parties.  These have been running continously for almost 3 years now in Katrina and have seen a large influx of Doctor Who fans from outside of SL join SL and become a part of the community.  The massive increase in numbers of the Doctor Who group from just under 600 when i became an owner of it to almost 4000 members in the space of just under 2 years is mostly down to Podshock. 

As far as the numbers game goes with that group, I took a close look at the last login dates of all the members.  Just under 90% of them have logged in within the past month.  Just over 70% of them have logged in within the past 2 weeks...it is without a single doubt the largest and most active of the Doctor Who groups out there, and within the general Sci-Fi groups it is now within the top 5 at least.

However, Podshock can only go so far.  The vast influx of new members from the podshock parties has plateaued out since by now the folks who have a computer that can run SL have already joined.  The parties themselves is still the showcase event for the Dr Who community being the largest single gathering of Dr Who fans within Second Life, even Linden Lab acknowledged that by featuring the last one in the LL Editors Pick for events.

2012 will mark what I consider the last hurdle of the 2 year plan i thought up back in 2009.  The expansion of the Dr Who community within SL, by pushing the community within SL itself and spreading out the social network aspect of the community outside of SL.

The International Federation of Trekkers Second Life Sci-Fi Faire's and conventions have shown a lot of the Doctor Who fans one thing...the other stagnant and in some cases dying Sci-Fi roleplay franchises within SL like Star Trek and Star Wars either dont take the Dr Who community in SL seriously, or think we are a collection of fringe cult fans celebrating an obscure British sci-fi franchise.  When i told some of them just how big the community was, and just how many active folks was in the main group, a lot of them didnt beleive me at first, and when they seen the numbers...most of them was shocked.  2011 was the year that a lot of the other Sci-Fi groups in SL lost a large number of their members, but all through 2011, with Podshock, talk panels (liek the ones from Designing Worlds) and RFL has seen the numbers in the community DOUBLE...yes...DOUBLE in just one year, with little to no outside advertising.

Now...in 2012, the outside advertising and social networking will come into play.  The ground work is already in place, Katrina as a region is now ready to take these new folks in, which leads onto the second plan...The Gateway.

The Gateway is the end game of the two year plan.  It was an idea already thought up by Ezy McAlpine halfway through 2011 but it was shelved in order to wait for Katrina to go all mesh, and since it has went all mesh the time is now right.

The Doctor Who Expo & Kronopolis is the first of the Dr Who sims to have two permanent entries in the Destination Guide, both under the RP catagory, one for the city itself, and one for Time Station Zenobia.  It's also the top of the search results in SL for Doctor Who.  Infact in the top 10 places, 4 of them have a landing point somewhere in the Katrina sim, again, ground work layed down by me for the new search system of 2011.

A lot of visitors visit Katrina, and Katrina is now acting like a Gateway for the general SL populace which are interested in Doctor Who.

Sometime in the first quarter of 2012, a second level will be added to the Welcome Centre.  This second level will be the Gateway, it will feature info and pictures of the 5 major community minded regions which have worked together for the past 3 years to consolidated the Dr Who community in SL.  Katrina, Lewisonia, New Gallifrey, Who Island and Olyesti will all have Gateway booths.  These booths will feature info on the sim, info about wether the sim accepts roleplay and will have a back wall "Click Here To Teleport" picture which will direct the visitor to that sim to look around and also give the visitor a landmakr back to the welcome centre in Katrina.  The finished Welcome Centre will become a true Gateway to the community minded Doctor Who regions of SL and will present a united fandom front for the community which has been growing exponentially for the past 2 years.

The other part of this end game is The Doctor Who Expo.  An actual real Expo which will be planned to take place in Katrina on the events platform.  It will not be a mini mall like the scifi convention's have turned into, this will be an expo in its true form.  A chance for the content creators to set up a booth and advertise...not simply show off a console, but REALLY advertise.  The set up of the Expo will be a simple one and the booth build guidelines will be a set of questions...

Why should people visit your region?
Why should people buy your products?

Two simple questions, questions which simply rezzing a console or throwing down a board with text cannot answer.  The Doctor Who Expo at Katrina will be a TRUE expo, not a collection of vendors thrown down on a plot or a row of boring police boxes on display.

There may also be a slim chance of producers and stars of the "new" era of Doctor Who showing up for Q&A sessions at the expo.  I say SLIM chance...I'm still in very tentative email discussions but from these early discussions its looks promising, and before you all start running around saying "BBC WILL SUE US! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!" ohhhhhhh please...the BBC staff of Cardiff have been in SL for YEARS now, they know we are here, they know what we do, heck i have one of them living with me on my mainland plot...

2012 will be the final chapter of the marketing push.  With Second Life itself starting to stagnate and with other Sci-Fi franchises in SL on the decline it means that continued growth and stability of the Dr Who community in Second Life will mean involving all of the major community regions and pushing the word about the community to everyone who wants to hear.

...its not going to be easy, but the ground work has been put in place for the past year and half.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Is the death knell sounding for teens in SL?

So...

Everyone knows that the Katrina sim was the first of the major Doctor Who sims to open up a dedicated mini Doctor Who and Sci-Fi mall for the teens well into the beginning of this year.

The decline of the teen population actually visiting these teen only sims has led to a few of them closing, or the owners of those sims switching to Moderate as fast as they can once they hit 18 or over.  The "Epic" region, part of a set of 3 Teen sims has just switched to Moderate.  The other 2 sims will be switching to Moderate next year.  Fi, the owner, has decided that running a sim dedicated to the teens of SL simply is not viable anymore, even with the tier discount they get.  There simply isnt enough visitors or folks spending cash.

For the last 5 months the Teen Dr Who Expo has seen declining sales from the affiliate vendors and declining visitors, despite it being ranked no.1 in teen search for Doctor Who, it's now got to the stage where the sim owner who recently turned 18 has decided to ditch the teen market, along with a whole host of other teens now reaching 18, and concentrate on the Moderate or "For Adults" Second Life grid.

The fact that Linden Labs have made it easier than ever for a teen to lie about their age, and the fact there there is no real way for anyone who owns a Moderate rated sim to tell if their visitors are underage hasnt helped, the teens simply lie about their age and say they are an adult.  We know they do it, Linden Lab most certainly do know they do it.

Not only all that above, but the fact that a banned underager can simply re-register all over again and create another account means that most of the teens out there...aint "teens", they are simply running around with an adult account and putting sim owners in jeopardy of being seen as a "teen hangout" or supporting underagers on the grid and doing nothing about abuse reporting the little liars..

With the teens who lie about their age going to moderate sims who DONT ban them, they usually stay there, attracting other underagers to lie about their age and the whole process snowballs, killing off the actual bona fide teen regions and falsely inflating the traffic of the moderate sims who attract these underagers with illegal traffic.  Those moderate sims start to get the reputation of being nothing more than an underagers haven, which ruins it for them in the long run once Linden Lab closes down their sim...and trust me...LL have closed down MANY regions which in their view harbored knowingly, or unknowingly a lot of underagers.  Its why the Katrina sim regularly ban and abuse report more than 4 or 5 underagers a month.

It leaves a big question though...what to do with the "Teen Dr Who Expo" in Epic since its not for the teens anymore.  The build will remain there for the next two months.  I'm going to close down the mall rentals in Epic and have it as affiliates or Katrina staff only vendors.  Right now its been me that's been paying for the land in Epic for the most part, sometimes a little cash is taken from the Katrina sim to pay, but very rarely.  The Epic regions Doctor Who Expo will basically become a satellite store and if i cant turn the place around in 2 months, it will be closed.

The bigger question is however...is it worth even opening another PG Teen Dr Who Expo?  From what i have seen over the past 4 months the simple answer is...no.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The 2012 Plan

So, here we are.

The end of 2011 is almost upon us.  This year has seen the single largest growth both for the main Doctor Who group which is now officially over 3500 members, and for the main Dr Who community regions, and has also seen the single longest stagnation since i started "marketing" Dr Who within SL.

The past 3 to 4 months have been like Second Life itself, stagnant.  There is growth there, but its nowhere near what it has been.  This basically mirrors what it is like across the entire grid.  Some SciFi communities have been hit even harder.  The IFT SciFI Faire has shown me this.  I've been talking to a few of the other leaders of the other scifi communities around Second Life, most of them are jealous of the growth that the Dr Who community has seen in the past year.  The Star Trek and Star Wars community's are stll big, but they have been on decline for the past year or more.  The Doctor Who community, even though stagnating, is still growing, and the main group is one of the biggest sci-fi genre based groups on the grid with about 90% of the membership still active.

2012 is going to be the tough one though.

With the next new series not scheduled until the autumn of 2012 it means we are looking at basically almost a YEAR until a new series is on the air, probably next September.  Between then and now its going to be a long haul.

The Katrina sim is now in a perfect position.  The overhaul to mesh has shown the rest of the scifi community that the Doctor Who community has in it some of the best builders on the grid.  The FIRST of the scifi sims to go all mesh, and one of the first regions in general in SL to go all mesh, just a pity we cant really see it right now since me and McAlpine dumped so much damn snow on the sim :) ...actually, wait, it was basically me that dumped all that snow...oops.

Time Station Zenobia, once complete, will mirror the sim down below as the jewel in the crown of the Doctor Who regions, but its useless having a crown if the community that it is supposed to support is starting to stagnate...and hence...the Gateway plan is now coming into effect.

It's something that's been brewing in the back of my head during that 2 month break i had.  It's becoming harder and harder to advertise within the general SL populace about Dr Who, although things like the major Doctor Who discussion panels (one of which is this Saturday) do help a lot.  The only REAL influx of new Doctor Who fans we get is from Podshock, but even then the influx from there is starting to wane.  Whats needed is something to shift the focus away from trying to attract more folks from within SL to convert to being a Doctor Who fan...it's now time to look outwards, into the general online web based fan communities of Doctor Who, the forums, the websites and the online communities.

The new viewer which is seemingly more stable(ish) than the older viewers will help speed things along...

2012 will see Katrina become the gateway into SL, for the general Doctor Who fandom of outside of SL.

Some of it is already inplace, the foundations...the new Dr Who Expo twitter, blog and facebook page...but its still a lot of work ahead...a hell of a lot of work.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Here we go folks, follow the link for more info on the RFL Doctor Who Panel this coming saturday!

http://drwhoexpo.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

IFT Faire now OPEN!

The Faire is now open! A big showing from the Doctor Who Community for the fire with stalls from the Katrina sim, Lewisonia, Olyesti, Who Island and content makers from the Dr Who community as well!


http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Platinum/128/128/51

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Dr Who Expo at IFT SciFi Faire

The booth for the 2011 IFT Second Life Sci-Fi Faire is finished!  YAY!


Friday, 9 December 2011

Dr Who Expo Social Networking

I've finally got around to sorting out the new Dr Who Expo's social networking sites.   All news pertaining to the Dr Who Expo will now be on the following places...

DWE on Twitter
http://twitter.com/#!/DrWhoExpoSL

DWE on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Doctor-Who-Expo/126645117450350

DWE's Blog
http://drwhoexpo.blogspot.com/

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas at Brunel Hall

Time to deck out the hotel ready for the Christmas party!