Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Localized Content is Key to Virtual Worlds Success

GrooveNet is considered as the first virtual world set-up in the Philippines. The service will turn 2 years old this June and it has over 100,000 members in the Philippines and thousands more Filipino members abroad, according to Gregory "Greg" Kittelson, co-founder and president of the company. "Initially, we launched with very simple profile pages and There (virtual world). Since then we have added many compelling features such as our GrooveNet Music & Lyrics player and a music widget to add to other social networking sites. Early this year we also converted our entire profile pages into Adobe Flex, which is a better technology. We hosted eyeball parties in Metro Manila so our members can meet in person and get to know one another."

GrooveNet has its own virtual currency, Therebucks. This can be used to buy items items in their virtual world and be able to buy physical goods like roses in the future.

Greg shared that 90% of GrooveNet traffic is from the Philippines. "Generally, our members are Filipinos interested in meeting other people and are interested in music, nightlife, and even travel."

Like any community site, one major challenge is maintaining an active base of loyal users in your community. Greg recognizes that the growth of Facebook and a few other social networks has its effects to other players. "However, we are able to combat this with localized content, such as local music and lyrics and nightlife. For example, you will never see Bamboo or Cueshe on the front pages or music pages of Friendster, Facebook or MySpace. Nor will you see the latest parties happening in Makati or the Fort on those sites either. However, you will see Filipino bands and parties all over the GrooveNet site. Our eyeball parties also keep our members loyal, as they offer a medium for them to finally get to meet and partake in nightlife and other social activities together."

Greg is optimistic on the potential of virtual worlds in the Philippines. Companies, sooner or later, may have to use this as a new venue to reach out to target markets. "I think we are just scratching the surface with virtual worlds, not just in the Philippines but around the globe. They are becoming more and more popular as people go online and the internet infrastructure improves. Virtual worlds are a great way to market, interact and even learn about your target market."


Machinista said...

The profile page of GrooveNet looks cool. It lacks some minor functionalities (basic ones looks awesome though) ala Facebook and their various apps but the visual interface is a welcome change from popular social networking sites.

I like that when viewing your own profile, you can drag the panels around. The music player interface is also good.

The whole profile page loads a bit slower *initially* but that's what you get when using rich-text apps like Flash (or Flex).

Rodion Herrera said...

One has to create a clear-cut distinction between a "virtual world" and a "social networking service". I believe GrooveNET is more of the latter. While it does have the THERE.PH virtual world as a "feature", it's not central to the goings on in GrooveNET--the fact that it compares more to Facebook rather than Second Life means that it is indeed a social networking service, and thus localized content will indeed work within the confines of a homegrown Social Networking Service, but saying it would also work for a global virtual world such as THERE or Second Life can be more debatable.

Gregory said...

GrooveNet is an online social networking site. It is localized content, as it has been fully developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. THERE is a global online virtual world, which GrooveNet has the exclusive publishing rights for the Philippine market. THERE has a Filipino community inside of its virtual world and even has its own island called "The Philippines" where a lot of Filipinos hang out together, purchase virtual real estate and build houses and hold events.
All of the Filipino members inside of THERE are also GrooveNet members. Filipinos can register for THERE and buy Therebucks through GrooveNet. said...

@machinista - thanks for sharing. I still have to get adjusted with the interface as well. I tried adding a Google reader shared items widget but I can't seem to make it work for now.

@rodion herrera - thanks for the insight. I'm guessing that GrooveNet is trying a combo approach and the social network component is meant to compliment the virtual world part or vice versa. I remember when I logged on the first time, all the folks I met, I try to find out their profile page to put a face behind the avatar so to speak. Whether will that work, I guess time will tell.

@gregory - thank you for the clarification. I should plan out my goals I guess as joining social networking is meant to compliment my business activities. I'll figure how to extend that to the virtual world.