Want a 24/7 employee?

Picture_5 One of the more interesting of viral marketing tools is the idea of using avatars in place of live employees.  Let’s face it, an avatar is never going to be sick, have to take their son to the dentist or want vacation time!

According to a study conducted by the Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, "characters (avatars) can express social roles, emotions, and organized personalities that match learning goals, company brands, and transaction needs. Characters can increase the trust that users place in online experiences, in part because they make online experiences easier."

Avatars are also being used for in-house training and many other applications.  And your avatar doesn’t have to be human.  Remember CareerBuilders.com’s monkeys?  Odds are you received one of their Monk-e-Mails.  This is one of the ones I created.  Picture_6

A new viral campaign they’re running is Age-O-Matic — what will your job do to you.  And before you dismiss these are just fun and games, the Monk-e-Mail campaign increased traffic to CareerBuilders.com by 25%.

Certainly one of the most "famous" avatar driven marketing efforts is Second Life, the 3-D virtual world those boasts participants like Dell, the American Cancer Society and one crazy agency who announced their beginnings there.

Picture_8 Again, in case you think it’s all cute cartoons, according the the economic stats on Second Life’s home page, in the past 24 hours, $1,895,494 (U.S. dollars) was spent in world.

Want to check it out for yourself? You can create an avatar of your own, on SitePal’s free trial.

So, I’m curious.  Is this technology beyond your clients or your business?  Does it feel like this is only the territory of the big, retail businesses?

Is this one of those "cool, but not for me" things or have you used this sort of technology already?

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