April 26, 2011 81 Comments
In my first post I covered the very basics of the What Empire Avenue is. Here are 5 reasons why EA could be the next big thing in social media:
1. Engagement and networking – Not only is the potential for a high quantity of interactions but the quality is what really impresses me. Compare the chat room feature versus a tweet. One can randomly tweet at someone but chances are that the tweet will be ignored if they have many followers. If you do happen to get into a conversation on Twitter, it tends to be choppy and a bit difficult to follow. Chats are better than tweets because they allow for a better flowing conversation so you can cultivate a relationship directly from EA rather than having to go through another medium. Not to say that relationships forged on EA don’t spill over to other platforms; I’ve actually been engaging with many “investors” through Twitter and Facebook as well as LinkedIn.
2. As the CEO of EA Dups said in his interview with Robert Scoble the brain processes transactions involving currency, virtual or not, differently than following someone or asking for their friendship. With limited resources, you really have to think about who you want to invest in. You’ll want to invest in people who you actually want to invest your time into as well. Why invest in someone? They are a potential customers, partners, vendors, investors, friends, or maybe they just produce tons of good content that you want to follow; but you could always use twitter for the latter. Below is the interview with Robert Scoble:
3. Companies are also traded on EA. The potential for brands to engage with investors is yet to be realized. Many big brands are beginning to join – ATT, Ford, Audi, Intel, Sears, and OREO to name a few. EA will be able to offer brands unique advertising opportunities such as sponsoring a community for a period of time, host chat conversations that would act almost like focus groups, give out EA currency to their followers as a promotion, and offer special deals and coupons. Looking at it from a small business perspective, businesses can find new customers for free, drive traffic to their websites, and handle customer service while trying to drive up their stock price (which would act as a performance indicator of sorts). For a more in depth perspective on brand engagement (along with gaming elements and a nice list of other EA resources), take a look at Jeremiah Owyang’s post.
4. EA has implemented many Game mechanics to make the site addicting. Like Farmville or Cityville, game elements keep users coming back on their quest for x,y, and z. Badges, moving up the corporate ladder in your “respective field”, and the stock market itself are just part of the gaming elements involved in EA. This is explained a bit further in this interview with Dups by Esteban.
5. Maybe most importantly is the extremely supportive and engaged community. This bodes very well for EA as having engaged early adopters will help get more users on the site through blogs, tweets, and other social media platforms. Evangelists are also coaching newcomers through the experience which is key since new users seem to have a lot of questions upon arrival. If you are new, I would suggest getting into chats and begin learning about EA from the community (you’ll make some new connections as well). More recently, I have joined the #socialempire which is a dedicated Facebook community for anything and everything EA. I have met many new people passionate about social media and continue to be impressed with the welcoming nature and willingness to help its members.
There are many reasons to like Empire Avenue but I also have some concerns. I’m not crazy about the “shop” as part of the monetization strategy…yet (but I understand you have to pay the bills, and I’m sure servers aren’t cheap). My thoughts are that EA should be focusing on building their user base first and the money will typically follow. Also, the website is so robust (kudos to the impressive EA engineering team) that the learning curve may turn some people off as there is simply so much going on. If the site had fewer features it may be less daunting for newcomers to engage. Additional features could be rolled out over time so there is less to digest at once similar to the way Facebook has introduced new features over the years. Finally, a boom in users may be too much of a burden for evangelists, who have willingly become a much needed support staff. EA does have a “helpline” chat which is very useful and they could always hire more customer service reps as a solution. Simplifying the site a bit would solve many some of these worries.
Despite these concerns, Empire Avenue has the right ingredients to become a major player as a social networking platform. It is addictive to users which makes it attractive to advertisers and companies (they want to be where their customers are) and it is adopting more and more engaged users every day. The team in place is hard at work and more than willing to interact with users. For example Dups has responded to each one of my tweets and has even read my previous blog post and offered to provide more information. It is that kind of commitment that is evident of the type of place Empire Avenue is.
Have you used Empire Avenue or heard anything about it? What do you think of this new social media platform? Do you see potential for it to become a major player in social media? I would love to hear your feedback.