The South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival has become a launching platform for countless social media services. Foursquare was famously launched there. Now, the social media game-slash-networking site — Empire Avenue — is relaunching itself in Austin. The goals of the Empire Avenue development team are to make the site easier to use — especially for new members; to promote the value of Empire Avenue as a social media tool; and ultimately to grow usage of the site.
To accomplish these aims, the Empire Avenue revamp includes three new elements:
A Refocused Message
In some ways, Empire Avenue has had a split personality. It has been both an engaging game and an impressive tool to build and measure your social media efforts. The game element helped build traction for the site, but typically, people grow tired of an online competition and move on to the next new entertainment. Some people have had a hard time taking Empire Avenue seriously given to many, it was a game.
With the site revamp, Empire Avenue has moved firmly to present the site as a social media tool for online enthusiasts. Significantly downplayed is the fact that the site just happens to use game mechanics to help you track the success of your social media efforts. Key to the new messaging are the themes — Expand, Engage and Evaluate — meaning you can grow your audience, increase your interaction with that group and then analyze your relative success at achieving these goals.
Visibly Aggregating Social Media
Empire Avenue has always pulled in social media streams from an array of services such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare and Youtube. These streams were presented in a condensed format that did not encourage reading or much interaction.
Now, Empire Avenue has created a social media dashboard. The dashboard is a single page of status update and content tiles that permits you to see what the people you follow on Empire Avenue are posting and to comment on that content. With just a glance, you can see Flickr photos, Twitter updates, posts for Facebook and Facebook pages, Youtube videos, WordPress.com blog posts and more. Think of it as the content of a supercharged Hootesuite meets the tile metaphor of Pinterest. The Empire Avenue lads tell me that this 1.0 version of the dashboard is just the beginning of increasing content engagement on the site.
Exposing Evaluation Tools
For some time now, Empire Avenue has provided obvious and less obvious social media measurement tools. The obvious tool has been one’s ‘share price’ — a score that reflects your social media engagement based on both a system algorithm and people’s direct support of you. The less obvious tools provide a wealth of information on each of the dozen or so social networks that you can connect to Empire Avenue.
With the site revamp, these tools become more obvious as one of the three themes in the Expand, Engage, Evaluate messaging. As more people discover these tools, expect Empire Avenue to develop a greater reputation for social media analysis.