Phil Bilbrough: Walking down the social media avenue

Walking down the social media avenue

by Phil Bilbrough

Love a good bit of social. I love that feeling of being able to reach out and a grab it, only for it disappear. Kind of like a mirage but one that is just at the end of your arm, one that keeps on reappearing. Its a mirage of easy money, easy influence, or of a bigger audience. Its an excitement puff. An illusion that a new big thing might be your new big thing.Empire Avenue

And that puff might just be Empire Avenue (or Google+). I’m beginning to understand Empire Avenue, enough to write about it (not that that is any requirement for a blog). This social media site puts a value on your social media activity and just maybe your influence. It does this by running a stock market based on the frequency of your social network activity, the number of likes and comments you get, endorsements of your blog, and the demand in your stock. It has a currency, Eaves, and many many other things… It is a very cool site. One of some sophistication.

I don’t know if I had missed the Social Avenue bus or not, but the hype reached me only after I was on it and wondering what I should be doing there. There did seem a slow burn to this one.  It has been going for a year (released July 2010) – a year! That long! One year in social is like 10, 20 years in real life. OMG!

It is a place for social media people and brands. Many of the clientele are already well connected people yet this site still pushes its followers to connect more. It  incentivizes us to  tweet and post and like, favourite, endorse each others blogs and buy shares in each other. I don’t know how long this will go on …..it has been good for me and it’s fun.

And it should be fun because its a game and gamers made it. Every action is rewarded. It has communities within communities tips and hints, a shop for virtual goodies, you can buy advertisements – so it probably has an agency as well. I haven’t found it yet but it will be there somewhere, the  EV Strategy Agency. There are also conspiracies and complaints, and people slagging it.

Nevermind its a game.

Eaves are earned through sharetrading and dividends, can be redeemed for rewards or virtual items. If you think that you are a bit poor and want to get ahead a bit quicker you can reach for your credit card and buy more of the virtual currency. Its a non-linear FOREX (do they exist in the real world?) – 90,000 eaves for $US50, 40,000 eaves for $US25, and 30,000 eaves for $US20. Screams “Business Model.”

I don’t know how many people are on it – lots. Empire Avenue doesn’t replace any of the social networks that I am on – it kind of adds to them. It makes social media fun again and its reinvigorated me – those game guys know how to get engagement. Through rose tinted glasses I would also at a stretch say that it adds a bit of organisation to my social media life through its indexing and its incentives for getting you to reveal your interests.

But its a game. One can be philosophical about it’s real world purpose. One could say that everything is a “game” – with strategies and players therefore a game and the label “game” should not be derogatory or demeaning. I don’t think games are without relevance, yet I wonder if the people on Empire Avenue reflect each other too much. That this social network for social media people is too small a sub-set of society, a bubble of super-like minded people – a bubble where any influence or traction within the community is irrelevant as all people in Empire Avenue are driven to connect. They connect for connecting sake, few other factors are considered, like the personality of the person, or the interest of the quality of a person’s material. All those elements are part of Empire Avenue but down the priority list of what scores a high share price.

I thought Twitter, Facebook and Youtube were probably enough for me. Thousands think that any social site is one to many. But I recommend that you take a stroll down Empire Avenue – because its fun.

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Phil Bilbrough is a freelance online advertising specialist who is blogging on the subject for Scoop at Advertising.scoop.co.nz. He can be contacted at phil@bilbrough.com.

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