With the end of 2011 almost upon us and the beginning of a new year ahead I thought it was about time I layed out the basic plans of whats in store for the community as a whole for 2012.
Almost everyone knows that when it comes to marketing the Doctor Who community of SL outside of SL itself the only tangible link to the outside is with the Doctor Who: Podshock podcast parties. These have been running continously for almost 3 years now in Katrina and have seen a large influx of Doctor Who fans from outside of SL join SL and become a part of the community. The massive increase in numbers of the Doctor Who group from just under 600 when i became an owner of it to almost 4000 members in the space of just under 2 years is mostly down to Podshock.
As far as the numbers game goes with that group, I took a close look at the last login dates of all the members. Just under 90% of them have logged in within the past month. Just over 70% of them have logged in within the past 2 weeks...it is without a single doubt the largest and most active of the Doctor Who groups out there, and within the general Sci-Fi groups it is now within the top 5 at least.
However, Podshock can only go so far. The vast influx of new members from the podshock parties has plateaued out since by now the folks who have a computer that can run SL have already joined. The parties themselves is still the showcase event for the Dr Who community being the largest single gathering of Dr Who fans within Second Life, even Linden Lab acknowledged that by featuring the last one in the LL Editors Pick for events.
2012 will mark what I consider the last hurdle of the 2 year plan i thought up back in 2009. The expansion of the Dr Who community within SL, by pushing the community within SL itself and spreading out the social network aspect of the community outside of SL.
The International Federation of Trekkers Second Life Sci-Fi Faire's and conventions have shown a lot of the Doctor Who fans one thing...the other stagnant and in some cases dying Sci-Fi roleplay franchises within SL like Star Trek and Star Wars either dont take the Dr Who community in SL seriously, or think we are a collection of fringe cult fans celebrating an obscure British sci-fi franchise. When i told some of them just how big the community was, and just how many active folks was in the main group, a lot of them didnt beleive me at first, and when they seen the numbers...most of them was shocked. 2011 was the year that a lot of the other Sci-Fi groups in SL lost a large number of their members, but all through 2011, with Podshock, talk panels (liek the ones from Designing Worlds) and RFL has seen the numbers in the community DOUBLE...yes...DOUBLE in just one year, with little to no outside advertising.
Now...in 2012, the outside advertising and social networking will come into play. The ground work is already in place, Katrina as a region is now ready to take these new folks in, which leads onto the second plan...The Gateway.
The Gateway is the end game of the two year plan. It was an idea already thought up by Ezy McAlpine halfway through 2011 but it was shelved in order to wait for Katrina to go all mesh, and since it has went all mesh the time is now right.
The Doctor Who Expo & Kronopolis is the first of the Dr Who sims to have two permanent entries in the Destination Guide, both under the RP catagory, one for the city itself, and one for Time Station Zenobia. It's also the top of the search results in SL for Doctor Who. Infact in the top 10 places, 4 of them have a landing point somewhere in the Katrina sim, again, ground work layed down by me for the new search system of 2011.
A lot of visitors visit Katrina, and Katrina is now acting like a Gateway for the general SL populace which are interested in Doctor Who.
Sometime in the first quarter of 2012, a second level will be added to the Welcome Centre. This second level will be the Gateway, it will feature info and pictures of the 5 major community minded regions which have worked together for the past 3 years to consolidated the Dr Who community in SL. Katrina, Lewisonia, New Gallifrey, Who Island and Olyesti will all have Gateway booths. These booths will feature info on the sim, info about wether the sim accepts roleplay and will have a back wall "Click Here To Teleport" picture which will direct the visitor to that sim to look around and also give the visitor a landmakr back to the welcome centre in Katrina. The finished Welcome Centre will become a true Gateway to the community minded Doctor Who regions of SL and will present a united fandom front for the community which has been growing exponentially for the past 2 years.
The other part of this end game is The Doctor Who Expo. An actual real Expo which will be planned to take place in Katrina on the events platform. It will not be a mini mall like the scifi convention's have turned into, this will be an expo in its true form. A chance for the content creators to set up a booth and advertise...not simply show off a console, but REALLY advertise. The set up of the Expo will be a simple one and the booth build guidelines will be a set of questions...
Why should people visit your region?
Why should people buy your products?
Two simple questions, questions which simply rezzing a console or throwing down a board with text cannot answer. The Doctor Who Expo at Katrina will be a TRUE expo, not a collection of vendors thrown down on a plot or a row of boring police boxes on display.
There may also be a slim chance of producers and stars of the "new" era of Doctor Who showing up for Q&A sessions at the expo. I say SLIM chance...I'm still in very tentative email discussions but from these early discussions its looks promising, and before you all start running around saying "BBC WILL SUE US! WE'RE ALL DOOMED!" ohhhhhhh please...the BBC staff of Cardiff have been in SL for YEARS now, they know we are here, they know what we do, heck i have one of them living with me on my mainland plot...
2012 will be the final chapter of the marketing push. With Second Life itself starting to stagnate and with other Sci-Fi franchises in SL on the decline it means that continued growth and stability of the Dr Who community in Second Life will mean involving all of the major community regions and pushing the word about the community to everyone who wants to hear.
...its not going to be easy, but the ground work has been put in place for the past year and half.