I have seen a number of people ask what is the point of Empire Avenue or why should they be on it. Some after having been on it for awhile, ask what comes next. These are certain questions that I have asked myself. The answer to this depends in part on what you want from your overall online experience, and in part where the Empire Avenue development team take the site. I will leave the game aspect aside and focus on the social media side of the site.
Next, what’s the point of social networking?
Empire Avenue certainly provides a networking opportunity, but what implications does this have? For some, it is simply the opportunity to meet people with similar interests. Krimson Gray (e)ANIME , for example has a love of, you guessed it, anime and has created an Empire Avenue Community dedicated to this area. Others, such as Carolina Millan (e)MILLAN use it as an extension of their existing blogging and social media projects. People like Drew Dalby (e)DLB use it to promote their employers and their role with those companies. Nabisco (e)OREO seeks to promote its cookies in a classic social media engagement strategy. Others promote political and social causes, or use it to meet potential individual customers or business partners.
In common with all these opportunities is the ability to reach an audience. As Empire Avenue grows, so too will your ability to reach the precise audience that matters to you. For example, there are only a couple of people on Empire Avenue from my hometown city. If I were selling a local product like dry cleaning, Empire Avenue would not yet be of much use to me. If Empire Avenue continues on its current path, that will change.
But beyond business people and those with specialized interests, what opportunity does Empire Avenue provide? In interviews and other discussions, the Empire Avenue development team talk about Empire Avenue as being a measure of your online influence. I have a share price in the 60′s, my Empire Avenue connection score is 64 while my Flickr connection score is 2. Kout.com measures Twitter influence and my score of 61 supposedly puts me in the top 20% of all Twitter users. At this precise moment, none of this has any specific value to me, and I doubt the average person working for a company feels much different. That’s why Empire Avenue is just a game for so many.
Many career and business specialists though would tell us your online influence scores should matter to you. Adam R (e)RIDDLE, Corey Tyhurst (e)COREYT and Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL have all talked about personal branding here on the Empire Building Network. Mostly, I have read those articles thinking about my personal brand on the site itself. However, our personal brand is becoming increasingly important in the workplace. Potential employers are doing significant online searches when hiring new employees. Meanwhile, even employees not changing employers are getting presented with opportunities because of the way they promote themselves.
Tom Peters, well known business author and speaker started talking about The Brand Called You in the 1990s. More than a decade later, this trend is more important than ever. Big name companies are using Klout.com to assess people and opportunities. Empire Avenue is entering this space. However, even if you accept that you should be concerned about your online influence, does a number tell you anything meaningful? It might, but it might not. I have high social media scores because of Empire Avenue. For example, my Twitter account @EmpireBuilding was clearly setup for use just with the site. So, my influencees wouldn’t be very helpful with that local drycleaning business, but they might be the perfect audience if I was establishing an Empire Avenue addiction counselling service.
Empire Avenue tries to measure the size of your audience and how generally committed to you they are. Clearly, there can be value in an audience even if you don’t start with anything to sell — just ask Paris Hilton. Rupert Boneham, one of the winners of Survivor received $15,000 to appear at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show. Les Stroud, host of Survivorman, a show with a very modest following, had fans waiting three hours to meet him. Bono, the U2 singer gets fees in the neighbourhood of $100,000 just to speak – no singing involved. If you want to benefit from your online influence, the key is to build a big audience interested in whatever you want to promote.
So, perhaps what’s next for you on Empire Avenue is just to work on building your audience regardless of the trading game. After that, all you have to figure out is what you want to do with that audience. Empire Avenue is offering you the podium, how are you going to use it?