Last week I ran a survey asking Second Life users to tell me the roles with which they most identified. 3,073 people completed the survey. The purpose of my study was to determine the most popular use cases of Second Life. I wanted also to see which group is more likely to recommend Second Life. It turns out that most people identify as roleplayers in Second Life. Educators are most likely to recommend Second Life. Scripters are least likely to recommend it.

If you measure the most popular roles, you can look at this survey as a way to gauge what Second Life does best and worst. If you measure how likely each role is to recommend Second Life, you can gauge how satisfying this role is to those who identify with it.

People identify as roleplayers most in Second Life

First, this chart shows the different roles people chose from my list (they could choose up to 3 roles):

Sample Size v GroupThe above chart is self-explanatory. The roles people most identified with were “roleplayers”, “socialisers” and “creators (builder/designer)”. The roles people least identified with were “scripters”, “blogger/Journalists”, and “newbie”.

Educators are most likely to recommend Second Life

I want to see which of these groups are most likely to recommend Second Life to those not yet familiar with it. As I mentioned in my last post, 72% of the respondents said they were more likely to recommend Second Life. We can see that people who identify as “educators” are most likely to recommend Second Life, at 81%. People who identify as “scripters” are least likely to recommend Second Life, at 56%.

More v Less likely to recommend

In my earlier post discussing these findings, I introduced the Net Promoter Score (NPS) concept that is used by hundreds of companies. The NPS is a loyalty metric that goes beyond whether people would recommend a product or not. Instead, it asks people to rate how likely they’d be to recommend

[brand] on a 0-10 scale. Then, researchers divide these scores into promoters, passives, and detractors. Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters results in the Net Promoter Score. For Second Life, survey respondents gave Second Life an 11 NPS.

Scripters are among Second Life’s biggest detractors

I further analysed these scores on a group level and found that “educators” give Second Life a 35 NPS. That suggests that “educators” experience a high degree of satisfaction with Second Life. They are likely getting what they need from Second Life. They are likely to be Second Life’s most vocal supporters. One could argue that if Second Life was made up of educators alone, it might even be growing given an NPS score of 35. Unfortunately, only 7% of people responding to the survey identify as “educators”.

“Scripters” give Second Life a -27 NPS demonstrating considerable dissatisfaction with Second Life. They are liable to be Second Life’s biggest detractors. They’re likely not getting what they need from Second Life. Fortunately for Second Life, only 7% of people responding to the survey identified as “scripters”.

NPS v Group

Digging further into the NPS score, it’s clear to see how these scores stack as they do. Not only are “scripters” likely to be the most critical  (50%) of Second Life, they are also among the most passive (27%) about the brand. People who identify as “newbies” are an interesting subset. They show one of the lowest promoter scores (37%) and are among the highest detractors (46%). That’s not a good sign for new user retention.

Here’s a question: Why might “educators”, “entertainers”, “music lovers” and “decorators/landscapers” be among the most likely to promote? Why are “roleplayers”, “socialisers” and “traveller/explorers” among the least likely to promote? My theory is that the former group do what society considers acceptable: they use virtual worlds to augment physical world activities. For example, one can easily see educators, entertainers, music lovers and decorators/landscapers using Second Life to augment their real life professional interests. On the other hand, roleplaying, socialising, and travelling/exploring in virtual worlds begs the question: “Why can’t you do that in real life?” The latter group might find their interests less easy to explain and justify. The former group might look cool for appearing ‘cutting-edge.’

NPS Breakdown PPD

Music lovers and business people/entrepreneurs are likely to recommend Second Life

The biggest targets for any referral campaign are “roleplayers”, “socialisers” and “traveller/explorers”. Their NPS are not the highest, but there are many of them. Other suitable targets for referral campaigns are people who identify as music lovers, business people/entrepreneurs, entertainers and Decorator/landscapers. They’re not as large as the other groups, but they are very likely to refer. Less favourable targets include scripters, newbies, blogger/journalists, fashionistas and artist/photographers.

How this information is useful

Referral campaigns. I’ll be using this information to plan my marketing efforts for the Firestorm Gateway Project. But, there are several other applications for which people could use this data. These include:

  • Prioritising viewer features. The more we know about how people use Second Life, the better we can design applications for it. The primary example of this is the viewer. It makes sense to focus on the heaviest users when planning features.
  • Designing products and services for virtual world consumers. Entrepreneurs who want to sell products in Second Life can make use of these samples are markets. Based on market size, products aimed at roleplayers, socialisers and creators will likely do well. These products include roleplayer costumes, dance and adult animations/furniture, and building tools and components. People like to look good when they socialise, so fashion is an obvious winner product.
  • Blogging topics and niches. As a blogger, I’m always thinking about new things to write. Knowing what most people do in Second Life can encourage bloggers to explore other markets (besides fashion).
  • Planning future virtual worlds. One of the best learning labs for Project Sansar (and other future virtual worlds) is Second Life. Knowing what most people do in Second Life can help virtual world designers prioritise platform features. One could also argue that makers of virtual reality applications can leverage this data to plan their experiences.

Notes: Some commenters mentioned that not every role people play in Second Life is on the list. I know this. A list including every role people can identify with in Second Life would need thousands of options. To keep things simple to interpret and act on, I made a judgement call to limit the list to these roles assuming that people that identified with these roles would complete the survey. If they did not, they likely wouldn’t have responded.

Photo by Yany Oh.