Empire Avenue is The Social Media Stock Market. Launched by a Canadian team of designers and developers in February of 2010 as an invite-only service, the last few weeks have brought a surge of virtual shareholders from all over the world. On some level, Empire Avenue is more than a game; it’s also a social media tracker and tool that can be used to improve one’s social media skills and etiquette, or make attempts at social media experiments.
When first signing up for Empire Avenue, it strikes anyone familiar with social media as nothing new. You’ve got your avatar, your ticker symbol (which works as a delightfully interesting take on the username), your bio, and links to your other social media accounts. What’s truly different is how you interact with users on the site. Unlike Facebook, it’s not about who you know. Unlike Twitter, it’s not about what you say. With Empire Avenue, it’s about what you do.
Your share price is directly related to how you interact with others over the web, and how they respond to you. Not only are internal actions on Empire Avenue rewarded, but actions of those in your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flikr, and LinkedIn networks are beneficial to you as well. Obtaining new followers, uploading and rating videos, getting likes, comments and @replies all help your stock price.
The goal of Empire Avenue is to amass wealth in the virtual currency of Eaves while increasing your own stock value on the site. Like the real Stock Market Exchange, prices and value of stock are subject to change, and often. During the learning curve, don’t be surprised if your stock value seemingly plummets despite your social media activities. What’s the trick to keeping that stock on the rise? After a month of experimenting with the game, I think it’s safe to say that consistent, valuable interaction with Facebook friends, Tweeting and Re-Tweeting, and investing in other Empire Avenue users is key. In the beginning, I found that I was prone to going “off the grid” every weekend and then returning to my regular updating and posting routine at the beginning of the week, and that seems to have hurt my share price. Just keep in mind that it’s an experiment, and it’s something that can add an extra element of fun to your social media experience.
As for the conversation aspect on the site itself, I find that there are two extremes: the polite silence of investing and/or recommending another user, or mass amounts of notifications through the Empire Avenue communities and their highly populated chat rooms. There are the occasional wall-like shout outs; however, it’s not so much of an ongoing conversation between users as it is a social media timeline of your activity across other sites. After a day or two on Empire Avenue, it seemed as though the context of interaction between investors is not wall-driven, and mainly consisted of buying and selling virtual stock.
I mentioned that Empire Avenue may also turn out to be a great tool for training users in social media etiquette. Spammy users with tweets of “buy me! buy me!” do not get bought. The group as a whole virtually punishes other users for acting inappropriately. Sure, it is courteous to purchase shares in someone who just invested in you, but expecting that they automatically do so or passive-aggressively reminding them with a shout out on their profile to “invest in me, too,” comes across as rude. In fact, posting such updates seems counter-intuitive to the game itself. Begging people to buy your stock does not add value to any of your social media interactions, nor does it prompt a discussion. But tweeting about a blog entry for Empire Avenue…now there’s a thought.
In my opinion, Empire Avenue serves mostly as a gauge for your social media interactions and a reward system for valuable content rather than an actual arena for discussion. It’s more like a network that facilitates finding people to interact with over other social media sites . That being said, our entire office finds it to be highly entertaining; we are hooked! Check it out for yourself to get in on the fun! If you create an account, give us a shout–we’re always looking for new ventures to invest in. A few of their recognizable brands include Ford (e)FORD – Ford was one of the first and soon to release a virtual product for sale – Rackspace Hosting (e)RACKSPACE, AT&T (e)ATT, as well as Dell, Inc. (e)DELL. And if you’re curious about the more in-depth rules of Empire Avenue, check out their rules and FAQ pages.