Empire Avenue is an online stock market of sorts, where various social accounts are ascribed value based upon a combination their activity and the volume of trade for the “stock ticker” attached to those social accounts. It combines the fun of an investing simulation with useful analytical tools that help you measure the impact of your social activity. Unfortunately, it unintentionally reinforces the worst kind of social amplification.
I will be the first to admit that I do enjoy Empire Avenue, although for a long time I only used Empire Avenue for its excellent measurement tools. Some active Empire Avenue users have figured out a way to make money utilizing the Empire Avenue’s system to build up referral networks that create some artificial or Astroturf-like impact on the visibility of individual content items or social accounts. In spite of their innovations, Empire Avenue is missing some significant opportunities to make their website a major channel for processing and evaluating the value of Empire Avenue’s impact on their user base.
Empire Avenue bills its platform as social media “rocket fuel” to help their users get better visibility across their social media channels. I give them an A+ for effort in their last major website redesign because Empire Avenue went to great lengths to display each user’s network’s content front and center the moment you log in. Users are presented with a “wall” of social activity from their Empire Avenue portfolio in a format that certainly seems inspired by Pinterest’s visual interface. Another feature they rolled out to increase engagement was “missions” or ways that users can “earn” online currency to invest in additional stocks by completing a task.
Unfortunately Empire Avenue really misses the mark providing their users with comprehensive tool for tracking the value of this added visibility. The missions are usually fairly reasonable, but are most often used as a way to artificially drive traffic to a website. These missions are easily abused because there is no way to validate a mission was “completed” before the reward is received. The end result is that the objective of these missions doesn’t require engagement or interaction, just a simple “like this” or “retweet that.” These simple tasks may help that user gain brand exposure, but any quantifiable value from that mission is nearly impossible to track.
The “social wall” presents some additional opportunities for tracking real engagement that are completely missed. Only content from a few channels is actually displayed on the wall when you log in. In addition, there is no way to share content from your wall unless it is from Twitter and you have a Twitter account connected to Empire Avenue. Links to content on the site are not traceable so you can’t measure specific clicks from Empire Avenue unless you’re using a third-party URL shortening service that provides that information for all clicks for that website address. If you place any sort of call to action on Empire Avenue, you have no way of knowing how effective Empire Avenue leveraged that content to other users without third-party help.
There are many opportunities for improvement with any tool, but the potential for Empire Avenue is so great. The sad fact is that their current setup only encourages “drive-by” amplification by providing social accounts with followers and basic amplification without forging true connections. They have the tools at their disposal where they could show Empire Avenue users just how much engagement is generated through their platform. These simple improvements would actually show the return on investment for participating on their platform. As things are, Empire Avenue completely ignores how they could be helping their users turn their online currency into real dollars and cents. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about how to optimize your social activity and translate it into real business objectives.