It would seem that not only is the U.S. Army going into the gaming business but they are also taking a serious look at Second Life. Over the next 30 to 45 days Second Lifers will see two new island appear in their world says General William S. Wallace; commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
The first island with the starting point point for anyone wanting to check out the Army scene on Second life is their welcome center. This is where you will find an information kiosk and the means to contact an Army recruiter. The second island will provide; in the words of Gen. Wallace
“virtual experiences like jumping out of airplanes, and rappelling off of towers and using a weapon, to see if we can get some kind of recruiting benefit out of this social networking.”
What I find really facinating about these types of things involving the Army is that they seem to get what all this social mdia and technology is about better than most of the people trying to market it to businesses. They understand that social media isn’t about just setting up shop somewhere and controlling what happens. The Army understands that it is about going to where the people they want to talk with are and then creating a valid reason for a conversation to begin.
For the Army it isn’t a matter of finding a way to make money off of social media interaction. They are looking at purely from an outreach and conversation point of view. This doesn’t mean that they are seeing it as some pie in the sky either but instead are being quite realistic about its potential
Wallace says he’s a realist when it comes to social networking technologies. He admits they’ve probably been “oversold,” but won’t write them off either. The recruiting possibilities are just too alluring. He notes, ” there’s about 4 million young people that routinely interface in Second Life. [That’s] the age group of the young people who we’re trying to encourage to join the military.”
Mabye all these hot to trot social media experts and marketer should keep a closer eye on what the Army is doing. They might learn a thing or two.