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So, the latest "time-waster" to show up in the social spaces is Empire Avenue. Here's a quick breakdown: You buy & sell "shares" of people and brands; a virtual, wanna-be version of a stock market of social media personalities.
I do like the creativity, the site usability (considering the intricate nature of the platform) and most of all, the behaviors of the users within the site - that's what I'm most interested in seeing. I'm curious how people will try to leverage Empire Avenue. Influencers, Internet Celebrities, major brands and plenty of people you have never heard of, you'll see them all. But what's their purpose for playing here?
I say check it out at the very least. You can decide for yourself on the typical "why bother" question posed whenever a new concept catches fire. Sure, the "game" element is fun. The ultimate goal for Empire Avenue is obviously the in-game sales and upgrades available to the users. They want you to buy "Eaves" and spend real money to increase your portfolio value (so you can buy more shares in people) or you increase your portfolio's available cash by completing various free/paid "offers" such as buying a magazine subscription or an FTD floral arrangement.
For example, you can buy 70,000 eaves right now and get 30,000 extra eaves, for only $50. Why? Not sure. Is it worth it? Maybe, if you're trying to increase your own exposure and want to try something new and cheap. I'd like to think people like Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owyang don't need to pay real money to claim another star on their social walk of fame. There are a few things you can do to extend your hand and play nice, such as endorsing someone's blog feed link within their profile, recommending their shares for purchase and tweeting the fact you just bought shares in someone. (And you thought checking-in on Foursquare was odd?)
It seems like a clever affiliate model leveraging social gaming techniques: social connections, awards, chat, upgrades, time-based/expiration models, etc...plus it hits on multiple ego items.
The problem is the game element itself. It'll eventually wear thin. The formula behind a users stock price, as I understand it now, rewards you for your connections and consistent sharing - not quantity of sharing. So, unless an active user like Robert Scoble hangs up his SM sharing activities, his value could be infinite. I'm curious if they'll introduce the ability to short shares as well. Let's hope they don't add margin and options functionality. Charles Dow would roll over in his grave.
Not sure what renders a person's value as overbought or oversold. (Other than zero activity and everyone selling your shares) Knowing this, could Scoble's stock become the social media share value equivalent to Berkshire Hathaway?
I have seen a few nice examples of Empire Avenue being used wisely for additional exposure. Besides brands like Toyota, Ford & Audi, Jay Baer is using it to help promote his book with Amber Nasland, "The Now Revolutions" by giving away one free copy to shareholders who tweet their purchase.
Have you tried it? What do you think?
Original post appeared on the Location Based Marketing Blog