Empire Avenue: The Social Media Stock Market

by The Red Recruiter on March 26, 2011

The other night, Kelly and I were surfing Facebook and we came across a status update from Jessica Miller-Merrell about Empire Avenue… “Empire What?” we thought…

Empire Avenue LogoLittle did we know, within a couple of hours, we would be wholly swallowed and entranced by this world of social investment.

When we first joined Empire Avenue, we had a few immediate realizations.  For starters, it looked like a virtual stock market for people who participate in the realm of social media.  Second, we noticed that success appeared to hinge on one’s stock value.  Little by little, we started noticing all the small nuances that go in to making Empire Avenue much more than a simple game of buy and sell.

“Whoa!  What’s this dividend thing all about?”

“Why does it take 5 days to firmly establish our social media links?”

“Hey!  People are buying our stocks!”

The simple truth is, it was all very confusing and a bit of whirlwind at first.  But, for some reason, we found ourselves glued to our monitors… reviewing potential buys, roaming through help menus, joining groups and pondering what all this meant to the social space… trying to figure it all out.

You see, beyond the game play appeal, we started to notice a thriving community of savvy investors buying and selling social stock based on research and thought out approaches.  This realization came when we were invited to an internal community called Team Zen.  Before receiving our invitations from Dr. Ron Capps, the group had been researching Kelly’s potential stock value, checking out her different social media locations and contemplating the potential impact of me joining with her.  We were a bit taken aback when we saw the dialogue.

While it may be in the spirit of fun, we were super interested in the fact that decisions about the buying and selling of our social stock were being contemplated based on our activities and overall presence.  While it didn’t all make sense yet, this was one of those “Aha!” moments.

Back to the help menus we went.

As it turns out, your stock value is decided by a number of factors.  Supply & Demand are two important elements and they are driven by the market.  Do buyers anticipate your value to go up or down?  Even more intriguing is how stock prices are based on the health of your social media activity – your “Network Scores.”  This is where it gets really interesting.

When we researched share price value and network scores, this is what we encountered:

Your Network Scores are a series of numbers that describes the degree of your Activity, Audience and Interaction on different social media channels. It forms a large part of your Empire Avenue Share Price calculation every day, along with the buying and selling of your shares on Empire Avenue.

“Activity” simply means how often you use that channel, posting statuses, tweets, comments, photos or whatever other content you might add.

“Audience” is the size of the network of individuals that receives your content.

Most importantly, “Interaction” considers the reaction of your audience to the content you post: the more they comment, retweet, ‘like’, favorite, or otherwise respond to your content, the greater the Interaction portion of your Network Score will be.

How scores are determined

Each social network and online activity is different. Here are specifics on how we look at each network at this time:

  • Twitter: Activity on twitter, the audience of your tweets based on your followers and the quality of your followers (bots, for example, are low-quality followers), the reach and quality of your retweets and mentions.
  • Facebook: Activity on Facebook through posted updates and comments on your profile, the quality of your friends and their interaction with your postings and comments.
  • Flickr and YouTube: Your activity through posting photos or videos, the connections you make with other Flickr and YouTube users, their interaction with you on Flickr and YouTube through comments and favourites.
  • Empire Avenue: Your activity on Empire Avenue, excluding the specific acts of buying and selling; user engagement with you on Empire Avenue including how they react to you, engage with you and the success of your advertising.
  • LinkedIn: Your connections, actions and recommendations count for your LinkedIn score.

It was at this moment when Kelly and I started to get really excited.  Was it possible that Empire Avenue had assembled an engaging and fun system for judging social media presence in real time?  Was it?

My curiosity was on full-attack, so I started to dig in further.  I contacted their offices and was promptly greeted by a response explaining some of the system nuances.  Shortly thereafter, they informed me that they are hosted by Rackspace (which made it even cooler).  We arranged a time to speak next Tuesday for more clarification and thoughts around their future.

Empire Avenue Interface

I greeted the next morning by checking out my portfolio of shares and activity on Empire Avenue.  It was a good prior evening of trading.

On my way to work and throughout the day, I couldn’t help but share Empire with a variety of contacts.  Veronica Ludwig (e)VERONICA received the first text and joined the network.  Shortly after, Alicia Arenas (e)ALIARENAS, Phil White (e)WHITE, and others joined in.  At around 11:00 AM, I was having a discussion with Robert Scoble about an upcoming event at Rackspace and decided to mention Empire Avenue since he is always interested in exploring new technologies.  He joined a few minutes later as (e)SCBL – the resulting flurry of activity was wild!  Later in the day, I had a long conversation with Robert Taylor and perhaps reignited his interest – he is listed as (e)ROBOT.

Social Media Evolution

I can’t say whether Empire Avenue is the next evolution in social media grading or a simple blip on the map of new things… the users and overall adoption will ultimately judge that.  But, what I can say is that I’m intrigued with how robust and thought through the product is – from their help menus to their Facebook App.  I’m also fairly certain that their goals are simultaneously fun and relevant.

For some time now, social media has created a buzz that’s resulted in a wide-array of individuals jumping in and exploring the tools.  Interestingly, adopters seem to have chopped Social Media in half.  Some adopted the “Social” piece and others simply saw it as “Media.”  As the new “Media” adopters’ eyes glazed over with dollar signs, we all saw a massive rise in people who claim expertise in the realm based on their abilities to spam the networks.  I get it, but it sure the hell didn’t do any favors for the experience of the masses.

What I see in Empire Avenue is a noble attempt to truly rate and judge social media success.  Let the market decide how engaging and useful someone’s presence is.  If they are doing it “right,” one can expect a higher share value, increased dividends and happy investors.  The spammers will fall into the realm of irrelevance and it will all be on full display within Empire Avenue.

Further, EA is not limited to individuals – it’s open to businesses who want to jump in and test their presence.  I see a potential future when businesses will ask their consultants about share value on Empire Avenue as a way of determining overall success.  This could be a great move towards the much needed accountability in the realm.  Be gone snake charmers!

Bottom line, I’m impressed.  Empire Avenue is fun and engaging.  While there is a bit of a learning curve, I think you’ll find it worthwhile and interesting.  For someone who knows very little about the stock market, it has also been a great learning experience to see market forces at play within a realm that I’m familiar with.  Influence, approach and strategy all come into play with the end result being a very interesting perspective on what really makes social media work.

So, are you ready to join in?  Here is my link for joining (http://empireavenue.com/?t=03oxyhht) – in using it you’ll start out with some extra Eaves (currency within Empire Avenue) and I’ll receive some as well for investing in your shares.  I’m listed as (e)MICHAEL and you can find Kelly listed as (e)KML <– a great stock for sure! 😉

So, what impacts do you think this could have on the realm?  Is this a fad or a new standard in grading success?

Consider this:

How could a virtual stock market of social media impact the marketing classrooms around the world?

How could it improve the quality of content produced?

How could this increase overall engagement and social media adoption?

Could this do away with “social media experts” and reenforce that we are all just practitioners and explorers?

I’m interested in your feedback!

Additional Resources

Empire Avenue Tutorial

Overview by the creators

YouTube Preview Image

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