Medium and message: Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK built a headquarters in online virtual community Second Life to help its campaigning work.

As part of its Silent Assassin campaign to raise awareness of diabetes, Diabetes UK has created a presence in online community Second Life.

Users of Second Life, known as 'residents', create their own characters and wander around in a virtual world, where they can meet other residents and explore new places. Once inside Second Life, they can track down Diabetes UK's offices, 'teleport' themselves there and go inside to pick up the charity's leaflets, visit its shop and talk to people with an interest in the condition.

A spokesman for Diabetes UK says the website is an extension of social networking: "With any new campaign, young people will always go to the Facebook page first if they want to sign up. We wondered what else was out there."

He says the charity's IT team suggested the idea after seeing companies such as Coca-Cola on the site. It recruited a design agency, cScape, to develop its presence in Second Life.

Graeme Manuel, web editor at Diabetes UK, says: "Many Second Life organisations are from the commercial sector and have quite defined audiences, but Diabetes UK has a diverse one.

"We worked closely with our agency to ensure that our virtual presence was appropriate for all Second Life residents. This included not only our messaging, content and activities, but also extended to the look and feel of our buildings, so that we would stand out from the more commercial crowd."

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