For those who don’t know what Empire Avenue (Eav) is yet in the world of so-me, or social media, it is a stock trading game and social network, where the stock is yourself, your colleagues, your friends and complete strangers. It is also a marketing platform already proving of interest to corporates and businesses, looking to reach a global audience.

By engaging in social media, you can increase your stock price and dividend on Empire Avenue. The stock price and the social scores are fairly good indicators, once you have linked up your social media profiles, of areas where you may be lacking activity in the online “unReal Estate” which is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on.

(As you can see with this example, more attention should be paid to the FaceBook Fan Page and Flickr).

However, businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to promote their businesses to a wider audience, with the likes of Microsoft, Nokia, BMW, their brands, and many smaller companies now involved.

My prediction at this point in time is that this could become as big as Facebook for businesses in the online marketing world. Ignore it at your peril. Gamifying has come of age, and to all ages, shown by the rise to success and profitability of companies such as Zynga.

It seems to be equally as addictive as social networks such as Facebook, particularly for anyone already accustomed to putting content on Flickr, Youtube, Posterous, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc etc. However, it is still the home of (mainly) early adopters right now, which would imply that there is a considerable longevity in the idea as the mainstream audience come on board in the months and years to come.

We have seen similar interest and then growth of such apps before. YouTube was one!

The CEO of the company, Duleepa Wijayawardhana or e(DUPS) as his ticker name is, announced a public chat on Twitter on Friday evening and around 40 people caught the tweet and dived in for a chat there and then with DUPS and one of the developers, e(TOM).

There are many features which users would like to see on the site, and apparently we have a longer list than the developers! Obvious questions were when would further applications, such as Foursquare, be linked up so that they would count towards scores – which are used to calculate stock prices. The answer was “Soon”, but whilst each application may be fairly simple to code for, the support issues increase. And there are only 5 people coding at Empire Avenue right now!

There is obviously an opportunity for businesses to engage with users with special awards, which can be earned by carrying out certain activities on the site, and there are already some of these in place. Many more will undoubtedly follow, mirroring what has happened with the likes of Foursquare Badges etc.

There was a fairly lengthy discussion about Klout, which measures online influence – either as a partner or an add-on, but the general feeling of the chat was that Klout is very different from Empire Avenue and DUPS summed it up for many by saying,

We are an engagement platform, it’s different

.

He further qualified this by pointing out that

the scores are algorithmic social engagement scores …. the network value is what matters, not influence.

Potentially, this could mean that *anyone* who is extremely active on the social networks and who engages well with their network could become the next high flier on Empire Avenue. There are already some Eav celebrities who were were pretty much unknown before, as well as well-known internet marketers such as Chris Pirillo.

Obviously, it is down to each person on Empire Avenue to make what they will of the network value they create through the connections they make and communities that they engage with, and it seems some people are now moving towards finding people with whom to work or partner, rather than just buying shares for a virtual currency.

Part 2 here……

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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