The value proposition of Empire Avenue as stated on the startup’s homepage is to help its users find and make friends, add value to social networking, and to become millionaires. Not the type of millionaire you’re probably think of, but rather an accumulation of virtual earnings gained through a simulated stock exchange where the strength of real people’s online networks are the commodity.
A site that’s been dubbed the “social media exchange”, Empire Avenue launched last year and has started gaining a lot of traction as of recent. Robert Scoble is a big fan and Chris Pirillo can’t seem to stop Tweeting about it, but what value does it really have? Does it have staying power, can brands use it, and what does it say about online influence?
Rule #1: buy low and sell high.
Logging into EA for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot to look at and much to do. The first step is to sync up your social networking accounts so that Empire Avenue can assign each one a score. My Twitter clocked in at a 34 while my LinkedIn currently maintains a measly score of 3. Your score and subsequently your activity on your social networking accounts help dictate what your share price is. Just like the real stock market, your share price will increase or decrease over time. Other users can purchase shares of your stock through a virtual currency called Eaves. The objective of the never ending game is to accumulate wealth by buying and selling shares. There’s in depth profiles, ways to track biggest gains and losses, and even a set of financial advisors to help along the way. Empire Avenue deserves heaps of credit for its rich game mechanics and level of play.
A new way of tracking influence
Empire Avenue draws similarities to Klout and PeerIndex in that it assigns users a score based on the strength of their online activity and influence through their social networks, however it’s unique in the way that it can entirely stand alone as a social networking site. Direct communication and chat are at the forefront of the game. Investing virtually in someone can be taken as a strange, yet appropriate, sign of approval and faith in a relationship. It also gives brands a unique opportunity to invest in customers and customers an opportunity to do the same. The implications for interaction are high, but it’s yet to be seen if this is a mere passing fad or something that users will hold onto.
At its core Empire Avenue leans more on the side of fun rather than productive, but to call it just a game or to think of it as a huge time waster would be to discredit it tremendously. At minimum it’s a site worth keeping an eye on.