Cisco’s entry into Second Life came through engineers. They started having serendipitous meetings with major company representatives in Second Life. That lead to a virtual demo space where they can now show off products to consumers.

Can real change come from grassroots? AOL launched Ficlets a couple of weeks ago. It was built in Ruby in two months, it supports OpenID, and it has no AOL branding. And it’s free. That was a project driven by one person.

Rachel brings some reality to it: “It’s very difficult to get anything done in social media without board buy-in.”

Jeanette Gibson of Cisco has a different experience: there are rogue installations everywhere!

Back to Ficlets – someone in the audience asked why the lack of branding. Well, there is branding, but it’s subtle. Enough that people can find it if they want it, but not enough that it’s shoved in people’s faces.

The audience are very concerned about how long it takes corporate structures to accept new tools. It feels like the answer is back in Rachel’s earlier remark. Unless you have board buy-in for really fast decisions and launches, you have problems.

Cisco has not seen many negative comments, but has seen journalists routing around the PR team direct to the bloggers for stories, which is changing the way PR operating. For example, during the Apple vrs Cisco spat, they encouraged senior people to blog in and honest way about what was happening, and got good response for that. In fact, there’s an internal competition for the most popular bloggers and podcasters and it’s proving to be very, very competitive…