Why I think Empire Avenue is a legitimate tool.
More than two years ago I began playing Empire Avenue, a social media game where players invest in each other similar to how one would invest in the stock market. It's been a long journey of learning and fun. During that time I've made many new friends, gained a tiny bit of insight into factors that affect the real stock market, and learned how to help influence what happens in the social sphere.
Created in 2010, there was a great deal of excitement when Empire Avenue made its splash into the social media mainstream in the spring of 2011. Well-known people in social media jumped in, and many are still active players.
Last year some of them stopped. One player told me he thought it took too much time. And certainly in the beginning, it could be time-consuming. Others could never really figure out how to play, and although they are still there, their accounts are dormant.
As Empire Avenue has continued to evolve from strictly a social media stock market game to a social media tool, some perceived Empire Avenue in a negative way.
This new perception came about with the advent of "missions," which offers rewards to players who complete tasks.
Some people perceive missions as "buying influence." But some of these same people are also buying followers and retweets on Twitter; likes on Facebook, Googleplus and Instagram; and any number of other actions that can be purchased using sites like Fiverr.
There are players with armies of fake accounts they deploy to amplify their own content to make it seem like their content is popular. I've actually seen it happen and asked one well-known person what was up? He never responded.
And why is it okay to buy likes, followers and retweets, or to maintain a bunch of fake accounts, but it's not okay to be perfectly transparent in asking people — real people — to view, like, comment on or share your content?
Billion-dollar companies including Intel and Nokia are using Empire Avenue to increase engagement. I have used Empire Avenue to direct interest to my photos on GooglePlus and Facebook. Some of the people who have completed my missions become "sticky," meaning—they actually come back to view my content on their own steam, without being rewarded. This conversion occurred because they could see my content was good. But they might not have discovered it without Empire Avenue.
I had a terrific conversation about some of these topics with Reg Saddler, (Forbes Most Influential People on Social Media Top 10 List 2011), and John Aguiar (Forbes Most Influential People on Social Media Top 50 List 2013). One thing we agreed on was, retweets don't mean much unless they drive traffic.
So in this regard, I believe anyone who is interested in building a social media presence, or directing attention to a cause, or amplifying their own, or others' content, Empire Avenue is a great tool.
Just as Triberr asks everyone in each tribe to retweet a new blog post, Empire Avenue gives people the ability to do the same. The big difference is, almost no one on Triberr ever reads the blogs they retweet. But the players on Empire Avenue who are asked to read and comment on a blog post, actually read and comment. Sometimes they even subscribe — because they WANT to.
I have been thinking about this a lot because even though common sense tells me I shouldn't care what people think of Empire Avenue, I do.
And I am saying straight up — I think Empire Avenue is a legitimate way to generate interest in social media content, Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns, or to educate people about Alzheimers, autism, cancer research and more.
To those who have turned away from it, I think it would be worthwhile to revisit it.
But only if you want real people engaging in — and amplifying — your content.