Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Gamification of Social Media?


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.

Here's is an example of Fiverr:  http://bit.ly/199aVe6

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 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.

———


55 comments:

  1. I very much agree with you. Empire Avenue is a great tool for social networking and even social marketing. In a sense, with the use of missions, there is a definite "buying of influence" that occurs, but unlike many companies that offer the same end-game, EAv is comprised of real people and not a cluster of bots. Like you mentioned, many of the people at EAv tend to follow your content if it's good enough which leads to many potentially valuable connections. I've only been on Empire Avenue about 2 months but can definitely see the worth, and I will continue to play. It does take a decent chunk of time out of my day, but as I reach my maximum shares in many large players, I won't have to spend as much time as I do to earn the EAves necessary to run missions. In the end, that's why I'm there. To be able to use my influence on EAv to be able to promote things, whether it's my businesses, a worthy cause, or to get my friends' social networks a little more attention.

    Thanks,
    PrimeSuspect

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    1. John, thank you. And let me say it's cool to learn your name :-)

      Empire Avenue initially takes more time because you are learning how it works and trying to develop your own strategy to cultivate your stock and earnings.

      But you will get to a point where the income from your stock investments will generate the funds you need. And missions provide another layer of income as well as boosting your score on the site.

      The addition of missions served a couple of purposes from what I could see.

      First, it enabled new players to "earn" income, enabling them to buy stock. In the early days, the only way to buy stock was to amass wealth was through investments OR use cash to buy the "EAVE" currency to fund purchases. It was a very long and painstaking process. Missions can be great to help jumpstart a new player's portfoiio.

      Second, I think missions initially increased the engagement level between players. Prior to missions, the only interaction occurred in community forums, Facebook groups, or shouts on someone's wall.

      With missions, the conversation moves from the game to any number of places — blogs, Googleplus, Facebook and more. So in a way, the relationships forged on Empire Avenue achieve a depth that isn't really possible on other social media channels.

      I hope you stick with it. The early phase can be rugged. Your stock value peaks, then people will sell if your social activities don't justify holding your stock.

      It's a pretty horrible feeling when it happens, and believe me, when it happened to me, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.

      Thanks for your comment here. I do appreciate your feedback.

      Cheers/Terri

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    2. Thanks for the reply, Terri! And let me just say John isn't my real name, Google just backed me into a corner and forced me to choose! *gulp* My real name is Kevin, and it's indeed nice to meet you!

      I couldn't agree more with what you replied, it's a long and arduous road, in my case it's filled with mission after mission just so I can invest in the fat cats on the ave! At this point stock price isn't my goal though it may have been at the beginning.

      My stock price my rise and it may fall, but the investments that I've incurred will be there forever (or at least until people leave EA), so I can count on my funds not completely drying up :)

      And I guess there's always more missions... *click*

      Thanks,
      Kevin

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    3. Kev, thank you again and I love how you write. The ending was so perfect! *click*

      Investing in fat cats is costly, but once you're fully invested in their stocks, as you've pointed out, you can count on your funds "not drying up." The "blue chips" provide you with predictable and almost always appreciating dividends.

      Many thanks again, and see you on EA!

      Cheers/Terri

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  2. Ok, just to prove your point, I just followed your blog, even though I came here via an EA mission.

    But, as a new EAver, I agree with your assessment, as well. Time seems to be the main complaint with the more established crowd, as you've also acknowledged. I think that is true doing social networking regardless of the system you employ, however.

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    1. LOL. Jim. Thank you for following my blog. The good news is, I only write 6-8 posts per year. So you won't be bombarded!

      Thank you for the comment as well.

      The time investment is not great once you've reached a point of equilibrium — enough value in your stock that people continue to invest, increasing your stock price; and enough share dividends accumulating as a result of your investments.

      The game is so different than when I began—I would love to hear from a newer player's perspective how they feel about the time commitment.

      Keep up the good work, and thank you again for the comment.

      Cheers/Terri

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  3. I think its another tool in the "Social Media" reality of having to be everywhere to be seen!

    I just began at the urging of the GREAT Reg Saddler ‏@zaibatsu on Twitter!

    The "FREE" game is fine but to step up is in my opinion a little to expensive in real life money!

    So far I'm enjoying it! OH, buy my stock (e)UBT

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    1. Hi, Bill and thanks for the comment.

      Reg Saddler is one of my mentors, heroes and champions in social media, so it sounds like we are both fans!

      I am sticking with the "free" game for now. I'm not playing Empire Avenue as part of my profession. But for people who really need the added power, I'm sure it will be worth it for them to have paid accounts.

      In case you didn't know, I'm already maxed in your shares and own 1700 of them!

      Thanks again, and best of luck with the game,

      Terri

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  4. Anonymous7:36 PM

    As a business person I saw the changes EA were to monetize and I don't blame them. But I also need to look at the time investment and see if there is any real benefit to my goals. So with that in mind I plan on looking and seeing if this is going where I want to go. Frankly with the drop of other Eavers I wonder if it will be worth it. I need to look at number of potential viewers and hopefully customers. With the audience going down so much I have reservations.
    I enjoyed your article and points made. Thank you Terri.
    JMD

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    1. Hi, JMD, and thank you for reading and commenting.

      If you spend the time to cultivate your social media presence so it supports you on Empire Avenue, I have to believe you will find value in continuing to participate.

      As I've said, I have a free account. In addition to supporting my own social media efforts, I've partnered with others to support some great causes. It's been impressive to see how Empire Avenue gives an ordinary person the power to really "move the needle" when the effort is put forth.

      Wishing you the best in life, and in the game, and thank you again for your contribution here.

      Best regards, Terri

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  5. Hi Terri,

    You make some excellent points about Empire Avenue (EAV).

    I have been actively engaging on the Social Media (SoMe) channel on a daily basis for the past 2+ years.

    I agree EAV might be perceived by some as requiring a lot of work to get properly launched into the channel's mainstream. It's true there is a lot of moving parts to learn.

    Although I initially found EAV to be time consuming, but in the end, it was well worth the energy investment.

    Some of the best social media connections I have made to date have originated on EAV.

    Yes, I'd been active on Twitter, Facebook and related SoMe channels before joining EAV. Unfortunately I found many of those SoMe connections to be fleeting, shallow or a waste of time.

    EAV has its challenges, as any enterprise does. However, I agree with you that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and EAV is a great social media tool.

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    1. Dear Karen,

      Thanks so much for your response here.

      I think most of us agree, Empire Avenue can be somewhat time consuming at the beginning. But I think it can take a LOT of time (if one does trial and error in a vacuum) or LESS time (if they seek help from seasoned players or use the iPhone MyEmpire App).

      After the initial learning curve, there is much to be gained.

      For the price of spending time (which also doubles as ENTERTAINMENT), a player is able to forge some great connections with people who, for the most part, want to help each other.

      Thank you again, Karen, for your support here, and Empire Avenue, and other channels where we cross paths!

      Cheers/Terri

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  6. I will also stick with EAve however I do think they need to be a little more savvy in the way they develop the game and learn to take a little more notice of their customers. A lot of problems have been created by them starting to charge for items that in the past have been free. If you want to sell value added services you need to develop those added services rather than taking away existing feature and then deciding to charge for it in the future... as is the perception created by the Pie 17 event recently.

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    1. Rick, thanks for reading and for your feedback here.

      The game seems to be experiencing growing pains. On one hand, they want to maintain happiness for the early players like you and me. But on the other hand, they aren't a non-profit organization. With luck, Empire Avenue will evolve into one of the most powerful tools out there—ripe for acquisition by another entity, or maybe attractive enough to entice angel investments.

      As participants from a pretty early stage of the game, I hope we can roll with the changes and support it, and hope it will be worth the time, energy and devotion we've given it.

      Thanks again, Rick. Wishing you all the best,

      Terri

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  7. geoff's story8:00 PM

    I noticed your mission, I read what you had to say, along with the others, I too started 2 years ago, I still like the platform, there are real people that one can connect with and do real things. I will still be in EA until they make it impossible to remain... I believe loyalty can enhance matters if applied in a proper manner

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    1. Geoff,

      Thanks for the comment. Loyalty is part of what drives Empire Avenue. I believe there are a lot of loyal players who believe in the game and its power to cultivate engagement. And also, players who build relationships support one another regardless of whether one's share price goes up or down.

      Let's hope Empire Avenue's evolution is something we will look back at proudly, and remember how we were here in the beginning.

      Cheers/Terri

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  8. I am on EA for more than 2 Years now, but active hardly from a month or two, but i agree with you since you are more experienced in here, and there is a point in your blog, which is a fact. Aldo, Ea like other networks is a connecting platform for people and friends, but in a different way, unlike others. It starts with just another site, but then slowly, the members started to have a passion for it. I have not come here through the EA mission though. But i like and follow your blog. Thanks

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    1. Ramesh, thanks so much for coming here, reading and commenting.

      I know we met initially through EA, but it is a pleasure to connect with you wherever we cross paths.

      The support among players on EA is so different from other social media channels. Many of the players have become friends, and Empire Avenue is the glue that connects us.

      Thank you so much for following my blog and thank you again for commenting here. It means a lot that you would take the time to do that.

      Looking forward to seeing you on EA!

      Best wishes,

      Terri

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  9. I too have been 'playing' for a couple of years and found you through EA and often visit, like and share your content. Without EA I may never have come across your social streams, and for that I am thankful of EA, but like many (and as already mentioned) I have been somewhat disheartened by the recent monetisation efforts (Pie 17?? WTF).

    I guess at the end of the day it is what value you place on the game and its networking and outreach potential. For me it has been fun and a great way to meet new people, but would I start laying down $$$ - probably not!

    But most of all, I think anyone who criticises its potential of "buying influence" is either as naive or deluded, as anyone in the Social Media space is doing this one way or another, and maybe in a less transparent way as you point out.

    (e)rayhowe

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    1. Ray, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I enjoyed your response immensely! Especially your comment about the new pie upgrade! HA!

      But as I said in response to another comment, Empire Avenue is not a non profit organization. They have to pay staff, for servers, for infrastructure, and at the end of the day, hopefully make a bit of money to make it all worthwhile.

      So I'm with you about not wanting to lay down on ongoing outlay of cash!

      There is a standard practice where people DM (direct message) their new blog posts to others in the hope it will be retweeted. But the retweets aren't enough. It really takes something like Empire Avenue to get the kind of authentic engagement that eludes us through other methods.

      Again, thanks for the comment, and I'm sure we will cross paths on Empire Avenue!

      Best regards,

      Terri

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  10. I just read this article and for my money...YOU ARE SPOT on.
    I have also made my support of Empire Avenue known this evening in a wee blog post.
    When one can learn, laugh and be involved globally in their gamification of life with one product...that works for me.

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    1. Dear Mary Helen,

      What a pleasure to find your comment here. Heartfelt thanks for reading and responding.

      When I saw your comment, I immediately went to your Empire Avenue profile to find your post so I could see what you had to say...but didn't find it! So please let me know where I can read it!

      You've been so wonderful to support me and others who play Empire Avenue. I feel quite fortunate to have connected with you.


      Cheers/Terri

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  11. Hey Terri,
    Great post!!
    I've been on EAV since 2011 and I don't plan on going anywhere. I actually loved when missions were developed because I thought it was a great way to 'reward' and deepen engagement and truthfully I have learned about so many more people and their work via missions. Of course people will exploit anything so "mission stealing" and the automated stuff I see are the things I find annoying.
    I get the time thing and certainly if you are not having fun, don't do it! But I think some might leave because they want quick fixes, "easy" ways to market themselves and their business to which I can only say, 'Good Luck.'
    ;) Thanks again for the post,
    Andrea

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    1. Dear Andrea,

      Thanks for your reading, and for your feedback.

      Wow—I was so focused on the general ideas behind Empire Avenue, I neglected to address the cheaters.

      As Reg Saddler and I have discussed, we view cheating as part of the cost of "doing business."

      But it shouldn't be that way.

      Unfortunately, cheaters count on getting lost in the crowd. So if you are running a costly mission, or one that matters to you, limit how many people you allow to participate. It will give you a chance to better track what is happening.

      I'm thankful to have had the chance for this exchange with you and to hear your thoughts. Thank you again for taking the time to comment.

      Best regards,
      Terri

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  12. Thank you for the post. I agree with you. Empire has helped this newbie in many ways.

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    1. Glad it's working for you, Maisha!

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  13. Hi Terri, what a great post and super discussion.

    I'm on Empire Ave as well, I enjoy it since 2 years as (e)DET. With all the latest changes, where $$ hit the game, I'm not so happy. Let's see how this will change the Fun factor of the Gamification.

    Nevertheless, it's one of the best social media activities I did so far and the perfect place to meet such great people like you!

    Detlev Artelt

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    1. Hi, Detlev and thanks very much for reading and commenting.

      I don't know of any players who are happy about Empire Avenue's recent monetization efforts, but I try to look at it this way: If I go to a movie, it now costs more than $25 for a ticket, popcorn and a drink. The experience lasts for two hours and sometimes it's good and sometimes it's horrible.

      At least with Empire Avenue, the investments made by most of us (not the monthly premium players, but the normal gamers) is occasional, like going to a movie, and it helps Empire Avenue continue operating. And when it comes down to it, we want EA to continue and succeed!

      EA has provided an opportunity to meet a lot of people I'd otherwise not know, and it's been great to see our EA relationships extend into different channels. I'm also so glad w connected there!

      Very grateful for your feedback!

      Warm regards,
      Terri

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  14. Terri, I stopped playing EAV for a few months because it was very time consuming and my investment didn't pay out when I aligned it with my priorities.

    However, I do find it of some value and have reengaged over the past weekend. We'll see how long I go this time!

    Patricia

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    1. Dear Patricia,

      Thanks for reading and commenting here! It was fun last week to see you were back!

      Empire Avenue is fun and can be rewarding in many ways. If I can ever help explain anything, or share advice about how to reduce and maximize the time you spend there, just give me a shout. I'd be happy to help!

      #BA75 sisters rule!

      ((HUGS)) and thanks again,

      Terri

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  15. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ellie, for the smile. Smiling back atcha :-)))))
      Terri

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  16. I like your post here Terri. I agree with many parts of it. I could remember almost a year ago someone even sent me a message while I was fighting cancer. The message was: People are watching you Donald.

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    1. Dear Donald,

      Thanks a ton for reading and leaving a comment here.

      I love how the EA community can rally behind people, providing emotional support during hardships.

      There are two EA players I know of who passed away sometime during the course of the past two years. I love how their accounts are still there as reminders, and how players continue to invest in their shares. They're gone, but still "here."

      I am hoping you are doing well now, Donald. Cancer therapy is no picnic. It helps to know people care about you.

      Thank you again for commenting here, and wishing you continued good health!

      Best regards,

      Terri

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  17. I've been on Empire Avenue a little less than 3 months and enjoy it immensely. It has allowed me to improve my social media engagement and it has led me to content that is of interest to me.

    In fact, I use it as a measuring tool for my other social media outlets mainly because it insures that I don't completely neglect my social media accounts.

    The truth of the matter is I love games and I love being rewarded with badges of recognition. Gamification and social media are a winning combination as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. Dear Troy,

      How cool to have your comment here! Thanks so much!

      I love how you are enjoying Empire Avenue! You are the ideal player and it's great to see you doing so well! It took me many months to get where you are in the game!

      EA is a fantastic tool for gauging your social activity. In many ways I feel it is more accurate than Klout, Kred or any other social analytic tools, because it provides very specific feedback across all channels in a completely transparent way.

      The badges are a lot of fun, especially in the beginning, and the competition is friendly. I hope you've found most players to be supportive to one another, because at the end of the day, the success of one person helps EVERYONE.

      Thanks again, T!

      Warm regards,

      Terri

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  18. Social Media Exchange
    Thanks for sharing the idea there would be some apprehensions from segment but i am up for it.

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    1. SM, thanks for the comment. I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but think you're playing EA and like it. Best wishes to you, Terri

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  19. Anonymous2:12 AM

    Learned something new & informative, once again, from your always-interesting "Confessions", Terri...and I will just say that I have no desire to go anywhere near 'Empire Avenue'.
    On with my basic Tweeting now...and all the best to you, my good friend !
    Mike 'the mariner'

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    1. Dear Mike,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting here. You are the BEST!

      EA is fun, but I'm glad to hear you have no desire to go near it. The reason is, it's like a pet or a houseplant, or dare I say—like a PERSON. It requires attention and nurturing or it will die. And with your worldwide travels (and no internet), you'd return to find your "stock" moribund. Not fun!

      It's much more enjoyable for us to tweet each other, so let's keep that up! And I'll be cheering for your SOX (I think they're in first place?!) just because I know you love 'em.

      ((HUGS)) and see ya in the Twittersphere!

      Thanks again,

      Terri

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  20. Anonymous6:31 AM

    You bet, Terri ! Won't even be tempted with EA in the future...not because I travel away from home for many months at a time (I actually do have Internet access onboard ship), but particularly because it's just too time-consuming for me, like you described. Just not my idea of something "fun" to be doing, either. ;-D

    I've really enjoyed our friendship & communication, where it began, in the simple Twitter-sphere...and so until I finally get out to Seattle someday to meet the MOST WONDERFUL Terri Nakamura in person, continued happy tweeting !

    The Sox are firmly in 1st in their division, yes...and are 1 of the few, if not THE favorite to win the World Series this year. With solid, consistent play & some luck, they just might...so, keep up that cheering !!
    And don't forget..."Captain Phillips" (starring Tom Hanks) is due out in theatres next month. - Google it and watch the trailer, for now...and let me know what you think. :-)
    ((HUGS))
    Mike

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    1. HA HA, Mike. I know. You have your priorities, and online games is not among them!

      It's funny, but I think when we met you had "JUST" started tweeting. Has it been coming up on a year? It's great to have this feeling of shared experience!

      Don't worry, I'll keep cheering for your SOX! And coincidentally, I saw a preview for Captain Phillips last week and thought it looked AMAZING. I will most certainly check it out!

      Huge ((((HUGS))) and thank you again!

      Terri

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  21. Hey Terri,

    Since joining EA a little over a year ago I've looked it at as a fun game that could pay off in the future. When I joined one of the benefits I liked the most is the potential in spreading the word about any message you wanted to get out to a mass audience by leveraging the networks of fellow EA players. I suspect that it is a little intimidating for many people since there are quite a few facets to the game and it does take an investment of time (more-so now with Dr Dennis' tool out of the picture) That being said I enjoy jumping on it every day and building my wealth.

    Great post!

    Jeff

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    1. Hi, Jeff, and thank you for reading and for your comment here.

      Your remark about "potential in spreading the word" is one of the amazing features of Empire Avenue.

      I think, like most new endeavors, there is more time required in the beginning. Just learning how EA works and developing your own strategy (based on what you want to accomplish), takes time.

      From that point, I feel it's possible to participate without having it take over one's life. On the other hand, there are players who love it so much, they spend an inordinate amount of time on EA. But is it any different than someone who is hooked on Bejeweled?

      I'm glad to hear you are enjoying EA are looking toward building your wealth in the artificial currency of the game. In Monopoly, it's fun to own Boardwalk and Park Place, and collect a big chunk of "rent." Likewise, on EA, it's fun to be maxed out in good stocks and watch the game dividends roll in each day!

      Cheers and thank you again,

      Terri

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  22. Nice Article Terri, Enjoying the Avenue again after a sabbatical!

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    1. Tiaan, thanks so much for reading and I'm glad you're back!

      What are your thoughts about changes in the game since you last played?

      And do you feel you're approaching it differently?

      I've heard people say, after they leave and come back, they aren't so obsessed; they find they enjoy it more. Has that been the case for you?

      In any event. see you on EA!

      Cheers/Thanks again, Terri

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  23. Wonderful post Terri, thanks so much! I would have to agree with your point of view. I am highly impressed with EA and in fact I love it!

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    1. Hi, Chadwick!

      What a wonderful surprise to find your comment here! Thank you so much for reading and weighing in with your thoughts.

      I'm glad you're enjoying EA and have discovered its value! Let's help support EA in its journey!

      Looking forward to more exchanges with you, and thank you again for taking the time to write!

      Cheers, and wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

      Terri

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  24. I appreciate your perspective -- as always -- Terri! I think there are different questions that could be asked about Empire Avenue (and other gamified approaches). Is it legitimate? Sure. Is it ethical (i.e., does it hide the fact that the Liker/+1er has something to gain by engaging)? That's another question. In other words, do we want social networks to have connections and engagement for the sake of the connection or for the sake of the game? And while each of us may have a different answer, that moves social media into two very different realms.

    And it's not really that different from the real world. For example, I want to get gigs at a local establishment. So, I "play the game" of wooing the owner or entertainment director. I look for the ways that I can give value to them -- no matter how different that value may be from the worth that I set on getting the gig. If all goes well, everyone "gets" something in the end.

    A legitimate approach? You bet. Ethical? That's a tougher one. Am I attempting to buy influence? Definitely. Just as I am with Empire Avenue. Is that OK? That's the question each one of us has to answer for ourselves.

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    1. Dear Stan,

      Wow. It's so great to see read your comment here. Thank you for taking the time to read the post and post a response.

      You raise some interesting concerns. My contention is, the activity resulting from requests from players on Empire Avenue is transparent. People can see what is requested and by whom—much different than "quietly" buying likes and follows.

      EA is a game, and those who succeed have figured out strategies to advance. The same can be applied to those who are successful on Twitter, Facebook, etc., who have figured out the best way to grow their online presence.

      I was interested in your statement about cultivating relationships in real life. How often do people take their clients out to lunch? Socializing could be perceived as buying influence. But perhaps it's so common that few question the ethics of it.

      Certainly it's possible for the ethics on EA to be pushed beyond acceptable. I've seen people ask for some pretty outrageous things. I ignore them, and I think many others do, too. It's a matter of personal integrity. Do you want your named attached to something of questionable repute? I say no.

      Whether social networking is done for the sake of connection, or the sake of the analytics (talking with someone with a higher Klout score in order to raise your own, for example) it is a personal choice.

      Just as there will always be trolls on the Internet, there will be people who push the intended boundaries of a platform. They operate on the premise, "Rules are made to be broken."

      Thanks so much once again, for your contribution here.

      ((HUGS))

      Terri

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    2. Hi Terri,

      The ethics question is pretty straight forward. One party is buying, the other is selling. They are both consenting.

      Is the "buying" of a like on a Facebook page against the Terms of Service of Facebook? Perhaps, I don't know, but probably. Is it ethical? To answer that question, take a look at who the customer is and what conflicts of interest need to be disclosed.

      Is it your, or my, place to clearly define what "like" means? No. That onus is on Facebook. And FB does have an ethical responsibility, because they are selling the content of their users for cash. Until they can clearly delineate what a "proper like" is and an "improper like," then they have a dilemma. I may "like" a lady's post because I want to go on a date with her, even though I don't sincerely like it at all.

      And that is the issue. FB has no way of knowing sincerity. Many "likes" are attempts to influence or promote. They know it, but they pretend to not. For them it is a subjective call. Ethics are not subjective.

      I picked on FB, but it applies to all. I understand that Google + is taking steps to help identify what is "real" vs "bought," which they should ethically do for their customers.

      Thanks for this Blog post. Charlie Garcia shared it with me.

      Regards,

      Chris

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    3. Hi, Chris!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You've raised some great issues.

      Is buying "likes" with "virtual currency" a violation of TOS? I am inclined to say no. However, I believe FB frowns upon buying likes, but couldn't find it in their TOS. I did find this: they discourage people from using personal pages for monetary gain & instead encourage people to establish fan pages for that purpose.

      I can only speak for myself regarding "likes" — But typically my requests for Gplus and FB are phrased like this:
      "Hoping you like what you see. A few +1 ones and a couple of shares would be awesome :) "

      In other words, if someone doesn't like what they see, they don't need to do anything. Whether or not people like or engage is dependent on the quality of what I share.

      Ascertaining whether or not Facebook "likes" are sincere, is another interesting issue.

      I agree with your assessment—there are numerous reasons why someone will "like" a post. I will like things posted by real-life friends simply because they are friends and I like THEM. The "like" shows I saw it and noticed they shared it. In this case, the "like" is akin to a "poke."

      Regarding your comment, "ethics are not subjective," I do believe subjectivity can enter into the ethics of "liking." Liking something can be completely subjective, and I think FB and Gplus would be hard-pressed to make a judgement call about sincerity. If your friend's child is competing for an art award, and you go to the piece and "like" it (even if it is terrible), is that unethical?

      I'm not sure this addresses your concerns fully. I can't speak for others, but my goal is to use Empire Avenue ethically, and I believe this to be true for the majority of players on EA.

      Huge thanks to Charlie Garcia for sharing!

      Cheers and thank you again,

      Terri

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  25. Very nice blog. I love your ideas - simple and back to basics . Great ideas
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    1. Max, I'm wondering if your comment actually is in response to a different post? The link doesn't go anywhere ...

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