Have you heard of Empire Avenue? It seems to have caught fire and is the latest social media blog-darling.

In short it’s networking, gaming, aggregation and social media status in one fun little package.

You link up your social accounts through your Empire Avenue account (currently  Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr with Foursquare being lined up).  Through a combination of your social media activity and participants buying shares in you, you end up with a share value, creating a personality-based stock exchange.

Your personal share price rises and falls based on your ongoing social engagement, and the 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 your price will also fall. By the way, I am currently a freaking BARGAIN at 29 “eaves.” What are you people waiting for?

Just what we need.  Another way to be rated in public, right?  A cottage industry is already springing up around this platform like a Facebook forum chatting up which people are good “buys.” Sounds a little creepy to me.

Still, this thing has a good chance to take off …

It’s sticky. The most common word I’ve seen associated with this platform is “addictive.” It’s like playing the stock market with people. I can see why competitive people can go down the rabbit hole and get hooked!

It rates people. People like to rate each other and compare against each other. They just do. And this is user-driven, not an algorithm like Klout.

Not easily gamed. At least I think it would be difficult to game the system since even a fake account would have to have social media credibility to rise up the rankings. But those SEO dudes do love a challenge so I imagine this will become a target now.

Real-life benefits. The founders are trying to line up sponsors so you can eventually buy real goods and services with your fake money. Nice.

Why it probably won’t take off for a lot of people:

  • Do you have time to play online games?
  • I don’t see much personal value in this.
  • There aren’t going to be many surprises.  Who is going to be at the top of the charts? Hmmm… let me guess. The same 10 middle aged white guys who headline every social media conference.  Why bother?

Now for the big question: How do you make money on this thing?  Here are some ideas:

1) Networking

This is a fun game that encourages “shout outs” and interaction.  There are also very active chat rooms. Undoubtedly a good place to make some new contacts. Some new folks have “bought me” so I’m curious to get to know them.

2) Promotion.

A couple of observations:

  • I noticed that Jay Baer is offering free books to people who “shout out” The Now Revolution. Why not?
  • When you invest in a person you see their Twitter feed on your Empire Avenue Portfolio screen.
  • You don’t have to sign up as a person. Your company can be involved too and join in the fun. Companies like Ford and Rackspace already have a presence.  I can see companies connecting “investments” with promotions. Buy Empire Avenue “stock” and get a prize?
  • This could be an entry portal for small businesses. Making a purchase in others opens the door to communication.  Small brands don’t have to wait for others to discover them, they can go buy shares of folks, and strike up the conversation with a simple, “Hey Welcome to EA, bought some shares to give you a boost.”
  • Empire Ave has a built in Advocacy Loop. If you ‘own’ shares in a company, it’s in your best interest to get others to buy it, and to tweet and FB about them to increase the value.

3) Headhunting

This could provide important insights and connections for executive recruiting.  EA provides a window into a person’s social media presence. How they play the game may reveal important personality traits. Are they curious? Are they helpful? Do they engage in conversations?

4) Find influencers

Some people think EA is a competitor of Klout (I don’t agree). But the fact is, it might be a way to identify influencers who are engaged in a particular topic.

5) Advertise

EA has integrated advertising opportunities into its site by allowing “investors” (you) to earn more shares by engaging with brands and shopping on its site.

6) Partnerships

As I mentioned, EA is looking for partners willing to provide real goods and services as investing rewards. But EA also offers an Open API, meaning that companies might find ways to create related applications to augment the EA experience. Think about Farmville’s success on Facebook. Could there be new games and applications surrounding Empire Avenue? Could you integrate this game into other social media platforms? Company promotions?  Mobile apps?

So that is a quick take on Empire Avenue and the buzz is growing on this platform. Have you tried it out?  What do you think?

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