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SOCIAL MEDIA: Virtual reality in B2B

But what is a virtual world? According to the Virtual Worlds Review, it is an interactive, simulated environment accessed by multiple users through an online interface. They all have six features in common: shared space; a graphical user interface; immediacy; interactivity; persistence - their existence continues regardless of whether users are logged in; and socialisation - they encourage the formation of in-world social groups.

It may sound like a marketer's dream: a potential audience of millions and seemingly unlimited opportunities to expose them to your brand. But the last few years have proved it's not that simple. Dom Raban, managing director of Corporation Pop, which supplies virtual world solutions to businesses, says that 2006 and 2007 saw marketing experiments in virtual worlds, 'pretty much fail spectacularly.'

Early signs of market maturity
Fast-forward three years and he says we are just beginning to understand the value in virtual worlds - particularly in B2B. Raban suggests following Gartner's Hype Cycle (a graph which represents what typically happens when any piece of technology is launched) as a good way to describe the evolution of virtual worlds.