Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Empire Avenue Game, Fad, or Something Else

What is Empire Avenue?  Is it game, a fad, or something else?  EA promotes themselves as the Social Media Exchange, where you can invest virtual currency in any social media profile by buying their shares, meet new people, unlock achievement badges, and earn virtual cash by being active and social online.

 I joined Empire Avenue over a week ago on May 14 to see what is was about after seeing some tweets about it on Twitter @EmpireAve.  I have also had good discussions with some of my Twitter friends on the merits of Empire Avenue.   With my financial and analytical background, I look at the framework of social media activities as needing to add economic value to ones business model and there is a lot of data out in the "Internet cloud"and many algorithm's trying to measure it.  Empire Avenue does it differently than @PeerIndex and @Klout, by adding an element of fun and Game Theory.

When you join Empire Avenue, you can connect your Social Networking accounts, and they will score activity and engagement in each account and give you a virtual share price.  Depending on the social account, it can take up to five days for your score to calibrate.  The connections you make on Empire Avenue create "value-based" relationships, a deeper relationship than simply "following" someone, in a completely less intrusive context than becoming "friends."   Some of them have now followed me into various Twitter Chat sessions.  Every day, you're on Twitter, talking to friends on Facebook, uploading videos or photos, and writing blog posts. Just for doing your normal activity, you'll earn Eaves –  virtual currency – and  Empire Avenue will give some more virtual cash to your shareholders. 

The stock price structure of Empire Avenue adds a human value based perspective to your social media activity.  The value based approach also encourages you to check out your investments on their multiple social media platforms.  In Game Theory it has shown that People use virtual currency (Eav's in the case of Emprie Avenue) as real money.

While People will utilize Empire Avenue as a game to get the highest market value, they will have to engage in social media activities to drive value.  Trick, invite your heavy social media friends to join early and buy early before their activity is fully factored into the system.  While I may have missed the LinkedIn IPO on its first day, I did miss the investment in Stacy Zapar,@StacyZapar Linkedin's #1 most connected woman and Viveka von Rosen @linkedinexpert, a leading trainer on LinkedIn debut's on Empire Avenue.   This was Legal insider trading.

The key metric on Empire Avenue is your stock price.  Your stock price is influenced by your social media activity, your Empire Avenue activity and buy/sell activity in your stock by your fellow Empire Avenue participants.   Empire Avenue is primarily for those that already have a decent amount of involvement in social media. If you’re just getting started, this isn’t the place to focus until you have built up your other social media platform such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Blogs, and YouTube.
Players try to increase the value of their profile and also invest in other individuals to earn a return on their virtual dollars, or Eavs, in the game. There are many ways to increase your value and participate in the game. There is a certain appeal to the entire game aspect, trying to get your stock price to rise and betting on those that you know will do well, but there’s a giant time drain factor that can be costly if there’s no real value or return. One of the first things you might notice when you start to participate are the silly things that people are doing to try to get your buy their stock – don’t let the silliness factor be a complete turnoff.  Empire Avenue even places those pitches in a "Buy Me Spam" chat box.
Critics suggest this is little more than an ego boosting toy for social media gurus and wanna be gurus and on the surface you can certainly see why this claim is easy to level.  However, out of all the tools out there, it gives me the most actionable information to monitor and learn from the best.
Of all the tools out there that are trying to measure influence and engagement,  like Klout and Peer Index, I think Empire Avenue may have developed an interesting format to present it.  It  includes a broader away of social media platforms in the scoring than Peer Index and Klout.  It also encourages people to engage on those platforms versus being just a scorekeeper.  I also like seeing the elements of each platform that contributes to overall value. 
The other thing I’ve noticed since playing with it is that it does a very good job of helping me focus on the important aspects of my social media engagement outside of Empire Avenue. Because the game measures the important things I do on Twitter, Linkedin, Blogger, and Facebook, for example, and rewards me in the game for doing them, it has the impact of making active social media participation more fun.

It is also interesting to observe how different users have different mixes of social media platform usage and arrive at similar scores and market effectiveness.  I will be covering that in a separate blog post.  Overall, I think it’s reason enough to recommend you put it on your radar of things to look at.  By the way, you can invest in me here :)

What do you think?
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