Here are a few reasons you cannot ignore Empire Avenue. This is some of what I have discovered after almost two weeks playing on the latest social media hot property.

In case you don’t know, Empire Avenue allows people across the world to buy and sell shares in individuals, brands and businesses. Your share price is based entirely on your social media activity, both within the site, and also on an ever-increasing variety of social media properties, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Tumblr, blogs and so on.

It could be seen as a game, but it is also much more than that.

Empire Avenue launched around a year ago, in beta, to a small group of friends and family of the Canadian developers. It has obviously undergone some fairly radical changes during that time; including a major reset which returned everyone’s share prices, which they had worked extremely hard to increase, to 10eaves.

(The virtual currency on the site is Eaves, which you can earn by carrying out a multitude of tasks – from joining and commenting in discussion groups, earning badges, adding new content, buying and selling shares, and generally getting engaged with the site and the social media sites which it links to.)

Empire Avenue only really began to come to the notice of the social media world a few months ago when individuals such as Robert Scoble (aka Scobleizer) began “playing” and then interviewed the man behind the Empire Avenue concept, Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana

I joined because there is never any point in hearing about something new and not looking into it. And some of these applications cannot be assessed easily in just a single visit when you have half an hour to spare. Empire Avenue needs a small amount of dedication to really get to grips with what it could prove capable of – for businesses, for brands, for internet marketing agencies, for individuals looking to network.

So, after two weeks here are a few thoughts about its potential value to YOU.

Firstly, if you are not actively engaged in social media by now, you a) should be and b) EAv (as it is known on twitter) will help you to see where your efforts may be better co-ordinated and effective.

Your profile and interests offer you the chance to describe to passers-by (and potential investors) what you and your business is all about. You can go into detail using the interests section, and this offers you a great chance to make the most of your SEO keyword list.

By joining up all of your social network accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Tumblr, Flickr, youtube, RSS Feeds from your social bookmark accounts, etc – you become a better prospect to invest in. BUT, this action alone will help you see where you are missing a few tricks to get onto as much social media real estate as possible, and to populate these sites with VALUABLE CONTENT for your target audience.

As you can see from this screenshot, the boxes on the right show the scores out of 100 for social networks. This would immediately infer that more work is required on the Facebook fanpage, LinkedIn, Flickr and Youtube to bring those accounts into line with Twitter, the Facebook profile and Empire Avenue activities. This is 100% true that those accounts are under-used and partially neglected – these are my own personal accounts and I never seem find time to upload videos or photos.

So, if you have only one video on your YouTube channel – isn’t it about time you made another?! If you have no photos on Flickr, why not add your entire product catalogue, add keyword rich descriptions, and tag them all?

All of these actions will also help with your search engine optimisation efforts. So, it’s a win-win.

Are you using an agency to do your social media marketing? Or using in-house resources? Once all your accounts are linked up, you have a great, free, third party tool to assess how well those actions are working. Eav assigns a score out of 100 for the content and engagement of your activities, and this is very valuable for any business to see whether your social media campaigns are being effective.

If you are using a social media agency to carry out your campaigns, this is a very simple mechanism for checking whether activities are being carried out regularly, and are capturing the necessary target audience and engaging with them. It need not be the only tool – there are also sites such as Klout.com and PeerIndex.com which help you measure effectiveness and authority as well. Empire Avenue is just one of many options to measure your social collateral, but it is a fun and easy way to do so, whether you are an internet marketing client or an agency providing social media marketing services.

The final comment has to be about the networking and exposure possibilities. Just having a presence on the site does give you a chance to engage with others in your industry, in your area, and whilst it is still new and fresh, it allows you a unique opportunity to talk to some of the biggest brands and names in the business. After all, it is not every day you get a message like this:

Or this:

More to follow soon as more of the intricacies and subtleties of the application reveal themselves.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology