As you can see from the widget on the right margin of this blog, I participate in Empire Avenue. Billed as "The Social Stock Market," the basic notion is that you'll meet people with similar interests via EA, "invest" in them (it's funny money), and thus lead both a higher social media presence for yourself and greater interaction/connections with those you meet. I've been participating in EA for a little over 3 months now, and it's time to put some impressions down on (virtual) paper. To be honest, I'm not that impressed with EA, because:
- It integrates with several of the major players in social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr), and follows your blogging activity, but there are many, MANY other integrations that should be in EA. Foursquare comes to mind, as do GetGlue and Tumblr, as the next logical extensions/integrations for EA. (Thsi presumes that suitable APIs exist for those services.)
- The implementation of the "stock market" is sound; given the breadth of EA's userbase, I don't think it needs anything else in this area.
- Some folks apparently LIVE for social media - we're talking hundreds of Facebook actions per day, plus hundreds of tweets and dozens of Flickr/YouTube actions. Yeesh.
- While the "interest matching" is OK, there needs to be a clear path to next-level engagement. All too often, the pattern is "you bought my shares, here's how to follow me on all the other networks," and little else. I have seen some next-level engagement in the community forums, but EA limits your membership in those (unless you "buy additional communities" with your funny money).
- EA presumes that the social media world runs 24x7x365. This isn't good for those of us who actually take weekends off. *laugh* EA is introducing a "vacation" facility, but it appears that you'll have to buy vacation time; otherwise, that "dead air" acts against one's share price.
- If you want to "win at EA," be prepared to devote a good deal of time to the endeavor. I'm basically treading water, and I spend 30-45 minutes/day messing around with buys, sells, dividends and the like.
- As with any social network, you're going to run across everything from startups to home businesses to housewives and well-known social media brands/individuals; predicting the relative success of a single "stock" can be next to impossible.
Now, I will say that EA might be much more valuable to me if I were living in a larger city; I've seen references to EA meetups and other 'real world' engagements in the communities, but those aren't usually close to my small Kentucky town. I also see some value in viewing EA as something of a cross-section of the social-media world, and in watching the mechanics being used; it's interesting to see the small-town photographer who swamps Flickr but never tweets, or the band trying to use all aspects of social media in their promotions. In terms of hard-core business value, though, I just don't see it at this time. Nonetheless, you can check out Empire Avenue for yourself via the links in this message - even if you only do it for the vicarious experience of buying and selling others...