Hello- Thank you any newcomers to my blog via Empire Avenue- I’m @Caleb- a friendly thinker, writer, social media strategist, speaker and consultant. I’m all about Relational Leadership, and I want to meet you. Please don’t be a voyeur but connect on Twitter @calebstorkey, subscribe to the blog and leave some comments or topically come and get some of me at @caleb on Empire Avenue. I’ll be chatting to everyone extensively……OK with that out of the way…lets move on!
I’ve been playing around with Empire Avenue the last few days. (Although those of you who’ve engaged in it, will know ‘playing’ is an understatement- it’s seriously sticky!)
So what is Empire Avenue?
In short its networking, gaming, aggregation and social currency all rolled into one. You link up your social accounts through your Empire Avenue account. Currently it supports Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr (with Foursquare being lined up). Through a combination of looking at your social media activity and people buying shares in you, you end up with a share value. This share price rises and falls dependent on your ongoing social engagement, and the trading activities of your ‘shareholders.’ If you want to rise on Empire Avenue, people need to buy you and if you stop engaging through your social networks than you’re price will fall.
Simple – right? No it’s not.
But Empire Avenue has got the perfect combination that all good games have: A simple pull to entice you in, enough stickability to keep you exploring and a great chance to network strategically benefiting you professionally. I’m completely immersed in it- and finding more ways to explore, understand and get more greatly immersed (looking for one or two large businesses I can case study with).
It’s so sticky that currently I’m feeling frustrated writing this, as it’s all kicking off in there- and I feel like I’m missing out! When was the last time you felt that online?
It could be described as similar to Klout, but with a social element. Although that doesn’t do it justice at all (NB Klout must be very nervous!!)
For those of you who are new to it, and want to understand more of it’s background, how it works, it’s features, tips to grow, interview with the founder, or quotes from prominent users, prominent people/ businesses, I’ll be adding further posts. This post anticipates you have used it, have an understanding of it.
I’ve been gathering the thoughts, wisdom and reflections of those who have been there since the beginning as well as those ‘early adopters’ as @Dups (aka Duleepa Wijayawardhana one of the founders of Empire Avenue) would call the likes of me who’ve joined at this stage. (I’ve only been here a few days, so it’s a generous title, but it feels good :) As well as finding it one of the friendliest places online recently, (Three Cheers for #SocialEmpire), I promised a bunch of people that I’d gather together some ideas and throw them out for others.
I’ve found myself being asked questions on how businesses will use Empire Avenue. And I’ve got into many interesting conversations.
It started when I felt a sense of urgency; watching something unfold before me. I was in a conversation with an international mobile phone company, as to whether they should jump in. And I was saying emphatically yes. They do a lot online already, they’ve got good social media activity and engagement, and this just opens them up to a wider audience; gives them some great PR opportunities and a chance to grow with Empire Avenue as it’s features develop. The community involved are so friendly, that there are no desires to ditch companies at this stage (though yesterday with the outage from Amazon EC2, there was some ‘threatening’ jokes flying about).
There’s a buzz about Empire Avenue, and I’m sure the tipping point is close. It’s been around for a while, and originally they focused on an advertising model, which didn’t work as well. But @Dups and the team have done the right thing; stepped out the way, and let the community shape it.
And you can sense the traction as a result! It’s shaped well, and it’s still shaping!
At the time of writing brands like FORD, OREO, SEARS, AUDI, SCOTTRADE and RACKPSACE are on. Many more are following suit, and in the chat rooms we were a little giddy to invest in Lady GaGa in the wee hours, only to find it wasn’t actually her! She’s since been booted. It’s a matter of days till big names jump on!
Hooked, I ended up having a telephone conference call with three others who were keen to explore where Empire Avenue was going to go. I felt chuffed to chat as if I was in Silicon Valley myself, having a beer with some heroes of mine. Robert Scoble @SCBL, Jeremiah Owyang @jowyang and Neil Pearce @neilpearce. It was about 2.00am for me, but I was going strong on my quest of all things Empire Avenue.
I asked what got @jowyang interested in Empire Avenue.
‘Monday night, someone said I’ve just sold you and I laughed! Than I realised Empire Avenue was something. This is special- This is something different.’
@SCBL had been introduced to it by his colleagues.
I found out about it through David @Armano. It’s his fault I’ve not slept for a few days!
@SCBL was phoning in from his car, and was off to be away for a few days. To which we laughed and shouted- Time to sell our ‘@SCBL shares!’
As prices are dependent on the level of social engagement activity, when people go on vacations, often prices can drop.
@SCBL- sharp and careful not to lose his footing, reminded us that he had his phone and he’d be keeping an eye on it all! He’ll be keeping his activity up…so take it from me, I wouldn’t sell him! Robert- I think you’re stocks are safe…..for now :)
We had a little debate as to whether EA is a destination for consumption of peoples social feeds, similar to Friendfeed. @jowyang retorted: ‘We don’t need another Friendfeed.’
And he’s right. Empire Avenue is more engaging than Friendfeed, or Klout. There’s a greater chance to interact, and a higher motivation to engage. My blogging and twitter (@calebstorkey) has increased massively, because I’m enjoying a fresh batch of people to meet. And I’ve got that nervous don’t want to miss out energy. Most people who gravitate onto it, after all, are going to want to have a good share price.
We explored the strategies that would shape up for business.
@SCBL felt that there was strong potential for brands to sell virtual products to reward customer loyalty through the payment of dividends.
Now that would be an interesting thought :)
@SCBL- also saw the ‘buying and selling, as a kind of tunable like button.’
I’d add that when people are buying, there’s a sense of affirmation- “I believe you’re going to trade well and I’ll benefit as a result with the number of Eaves I have.” Lots of people are trying to help each other grow in this early adoption stage, and Zen Empire is one of the largest groups on Empire Online which shows that thinking. There’s a lot of ‘likes’ which equate to a lot of votes of confidence. Just a couple of days ago, they decided to get rid of the ‘dislike’ button, which I’m sure would give some businesses more confidence to enter in.
@Dups said in his interview with @SCBL, ‘If every connection you made cost you money, the human brain asks: Am I going to invest in you? Is that going to show some kind of value back? Our brains are wired towards value.’
And the value is more than an economical increase in the number of Eaves you have, but also in the capacity to engage with the company (or person) that you’re a shareholder in. When you invest you get to see their feed of activity from your profile page and you may in the future get to go to…….
Shareholders meeting. @jowyang and @SCBL were busy comparing diaries as to when they could do them. They were struggling to get early dates. As a heavy investor in both stock, I was keen to protest! I’d be wanting an invite soon….are they at all accountable to us as shareholders for how they use their time?!
I @caleb, wonder whether shareholders meetings could be an alternative to the early Tweet Ups. I could imagine businesses being able to have a lot of fun interacting socially with their staff through shareholders meetings in multiple colourful ways. @jowyang was talking about having one soon in the hangar, and as someone who maxed out my shares in him early on, I’d love to be there.
@jowyang asked the question- that probably everyone would ask of themselves when they join ‘will my stock keep going up?’ I think it will for him and others like him for a while. Why? Because they naturally engage a lot through social media- ongoing content, output and interactions. And he’s engaging inside the community a lot too. Whatsmore as a result, importantly so, they will produce a good dividend return. And those are the people you want to hold onto. That’s better than sticking with someone who’s spammed their way up, only to have little quality online activity. I know where I’m investing my Eaves!
Making the right choice of investment is crucial in Empire Avenue, otherwise you can run out of Eaves, until you sell up stock. You can buy more Eaves (for a limited time only) and @jowyang asked: ‘Is it cheating to buy Eaves.’ @SCBL thought it was fine to make use of whatever is available to you at the time.
Either way when you’re investing in a business, you want to find the right ones.
@jowyang posed the question- “Why invest in companies you don’t know? You need to invest in the big ones. I will be investing in the companies I know have good social media teams.”
He’s got some links which I’ll fish out. They’re pretty handy for tracking which businesses you should look out for based on key social media staff. At the time of writing I think any sizeable company will get a good uptake. There are a few groups who are always looking to promote good stock possibilities- if you’re good, you’ll be found. At time of writing, there’s a 200 strong facebook army, tracking all the best options. Get on the forums, get talking and you’ll be snatched up promptly. I’ll add some of the good advisors to look out for shortly. And on Empire Avenue, you don’t get done for Insider Trading.
I asked @SCBL what he thought of the plan to introduce Foursquare- he felt Quora would be a more important addition. And I couldn’t agree more. At the moment the community forum boards are understandably a little clunky, and lots of engagement on Quora, would mutually promote Empire Avenue, at the same time as allow time till there’s additional funds for investment.
Thanks Robert, Jeremy and Neil. Really enjoyed your thoughts, and will be fascinated to see how this shapes up.
Whist in Empire Avenue, I’ve been in conversation with others toying the issues that businesses will face. Jim Durbin, raised an interesting thought: “Imagine an organized sell-off to protest a business decision. While the network would have to be much larger to make that happen, it’s relatively easy to manufacture a blogpost discussing it, and then getting it out to larger media as an anecdotal story. Reporters are familiar with InTrade. This isn’t that much different.
Likewise, imagine a massive buy designed to reward a business. Harder story to push, but one that once the system is large enough, could be used effectively.”
There’s a lot of fun that could be had with this, and businesses who enter may need a sense of humour to survive.
@Neilpearce added: ‘There is huge potential in this for understanding sentiment. Whether that be in the markets e.g. Audi has a product recall and its shareprice on EA dips or a politician is sold in the wake of some scandle or wayne rooney scores a hatrick for England. With other measures such as Klout or Peerindex only the individual involved can determine their score with EA we get to decide. If it gains enough scale then could we see the real markets being moved by the sentiment expressed on Empire Avenue?”
Doesn’t seem infeasible does it! A lot can happen in 5 years…
So the question, would businesses get their Return on Investment by coming in at this stage? At time of writing YES! Ongoingly so, I’m convinced.
I pointed out that FORD had come in early, and caused a stir. Clearly a lot of the early adopters would get good PR, and the appropriate kudos. Whatsmore, I think the levels of activity for shareholders meetings both online and offline could be fascinating, and could shape up the direction for Empire Avenue. Combining, offline and online is where I can see it growing. A relationship with location could be crucial.
In the meantime, get involved and get on board. But do so carefully- it’s sticky. And without skipping a beat, I’m off to find some fresh people to invest in!
With love, @Caleb (Relational Leadership)
To kick off a discussion I wanted to highlight other reflections others have had. Jim Durbin has helped kick off a lot of these questions, through the forum on Empire Avenue. Thanks Jim. Ask him for an invite.
Dave Cable @THEDAVECABLE added: I think the ability to tie in investments with promotions is something that will be utilised soon. In the same way that Facebook currency is offered on particular retailers sites, I think companies offering to buy a certain amount of shares for a like or follow could be used. Think that as this platform is so new that there is a lot of exploring left to be done be early adaptors.’
Jim Durbin (@SMHEADHUNTER) Empire Avenue as Recruiting Tool:
My background is staffing, so one of the first things I looked for was how to connect with people based on their potential as candidates. EA provides a good window into a person’s broader social media presence, and gives you a non-creepy way to track their progress. The profiles available show you number of tweets and Facebook posts, but it also gives you scores that move over time and a sense of how they treat the game. Are they curious? Are they helpful? Do they engage in conversations, or did they sign up and keep their focus elsewhere?
The answer isn’t always more. Someone with a lot of EA activity may not be the person you want to hire (depends on the job), while someone who has little Twitter Activity but a lot of Facebook activity may be the ideal find. Depends on what you look for.
Catrinel Graepel: In my view, for top / worldwide brands it’s not difficult to get some advantage from this platform as 1) it helps you form an overall idea of how good / interesting your content on other social sites is; and 2) might be fun to see how many investors you can attract when stocks are (real money) free – you can speculate on many PR related releases :)
But what I’m really searching is a solution to how a small / yet unkown brand can develop via EA and gain awareness and as many followers / investors as possible..
Thanks a lot- and now over to you. What do you think? Where is Empire Avenue going? What benefits are there to businesses? What are you doing with your clients/ your businesses? I’d love to hear your thougts…