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In the 2 weeks since it opened on 15 June, Duran Duran’s presence in Second Life (Duran Duran Universe/DDU) has attracted just 165 unique visitors. That’s one in ten-thousand active Second Life users.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I’m not criticising the results here. I’m explaining them.

For starters, active Second Life users would form only a subset of Duran Duran fans. The majority of active Second Life users were in their late teens or older when the band became a hit back in first years of the 1980s. Not every one of them is going to be a fan, and not all of those would necessarily be enthusiastic enough about the band to go visit.

Picture this: a Duran Duran museum opens up in your town. Do you visit it? Do you visit it within the first week or two of it opening?

Me? I’d probably get around to it eventually. If one of my friends chose to go, I’d probably go with them.

That’s a network effect, and network effects don’t yield fruit right away.

Another thought experiment: you open a new Web-site or blog. Do you shut it down if it doesn’t justify its costs within the first day? Week? Month?

No, of course you don’t.

Most big Web-sites – like most big libraries, museums and tourist venues – only started with fairly indifferent attendance. A large launch followed by steady attendance is the rare exception, not the norm. This blog started with two or three readers, and is now into six figures after about five years.

Network effects build up venues (on the Web and elsewhere) over time. If you’re keeping your own end up, and are sufficiently patient.

Aside from the inevitable visits by journalists, Duran Duran Universe in Second Life is probably mostly being visited by ‘core’ fans at present. There might only be a few of them, but there don’t have to be many to make the project worthwhile. If the site is satisfying, those core fans will bring in more, less-core fans.

In five years, the Second Life site could be a raging success (I doubt that the official Duran Duran Web-site is a financial success, but – of course – that isn’t the point of it). Or the DDU could be a deserted failure. The thing is that you don’t really know unless you stay the course, study your market, and adapt to them. You know, just as you would in any business or with any Web-site.

If you’re not planning to commit to that course for at least five years, you’re generally embarking on a losing course from the get-go.

As is often said these days, “Go big or go home” – Half-measures are just wasted time and money.

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