Why did you sign up for Empire Avenue? You might be one of those people that loves to share everything with your friends and this is just one more place to do it. Alternatively, you have may have seen an opportunity to build your business and expand your work-related social network. If you have a friend that is addicted to the competitive game aspect of the site, you might have joined just to find out what they were ‘on about’. Indeed, you may have thought EA sounds like a great game yourself. I imagine for many of us there was a combination of factors that led our joining with most just thinking EA was worth checking out.
Like a bunch of people, I first learned about Empire Avenue from an article in Mashable. I am a big fan of Mashable and a regular reader of their Spark of Genius series that profiles interesting new online startups where EA was featured. I actually have been thinking about a Foursquare type app where users would participate in a competitive game type scenario to make their favourite hangouts more valuable. I was familiar with the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX.com) and even gave thought to a way of buying futures in your favourite places. So, when I read about it, I had a natural interest in Empire Avenue and was quick to sign-up for a beta invite. (Little did I know how eager Twitter enthusiasts would have been to let me in right away.)
I immediately got hooked on the game, but that’s often the way I roll. I try something out for a bit. I get really into it, and then I am on to the next thing. However, there was one important difference with Empire Avenue. One potential business idea brought me to the site, and I immediately other ones. It took both a compelling game and a bigger picture to get me to invest my time and effort the way I have.
Prior to joining EA, I had everything that EA rewards you for — Twitter Account, Facebook Page, Flickr account and a blog. However, I did not use any of them very much. I understood their potential value, and I did maintain a certain level of dialog. I didn’t do more because my friends are not big into social media and I have kept quite busy work wise without pursuing an online audience. That all changed with Empire Avenue.
EA does two big things that turns many of us into online social butterflies — myself included. These are as follows:
- The game gives us an excuse to chat and incentives it. Every time stock is traded or someone is followed, there is an easy opportunity to say hi. You can even use that moment to ask a person about something interesting in their bio and engage in deeper conversation. What’s more, you have an opportunity to chat on a ongoing basis. You get so that you know the online personalities of people. Of course, the game rewards this interaction. Each of us now has an incentive to strike up a conversation — both on the site and through other social media sites.
- For many, Empire Avenue also presents a business opportunity. EA presents opportunities to develop products or services related to the site. However, the platform also provides another channel for promoting existing businesses. This is probably why companies such as Motorola and Westjet are checking it out. You may have noticed there are a lot of experts in social media on the site. As a group, they would see the possibilities as well as anybody.
Please do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting we would never chat without an excuse and incentive to do so. I am just saying that Empire Avenue raises the level of interaction thanks to the dynamics of the site.
Again, its the combination of game and social media platform that makes Empire Avenue so interesting. But when we have had our fill of the game, what’s next? I suspect the game will evolve to find new ways to keep us hooked as long as possible. But many of us will eventually face the question, “Why am I here?” I feel my own gameplay maturing less than two weeks in. Once I achieve my initial leader board goals, then what? The answer for me is going to be to build online relationships though the game dynamic. I can see this affecting both my work and social lives.
For work, I have already had someone who works for a charity ask me about the overseas expeditions I organize as fundraising events for nonprofit clients. For the website I want to develop, I have had someone help me with finding answers to my questions. For life outside of work, I have had someone mention he will be at an event I am attending, and another person I met at a different function mention he is on Empire Avenue.
Because my answer to the question, “Why I am here?” must involve more than a game going forward, I am looking for opportunities for meaningful engagement with all of you here. (Okay not every single one of you ;-) In the end, I think that will be much more rewarding than the fact I managed to earn the number one spots on both the Earners and Payouts Leader Boards today (woohoo!). I have touched on the concept of providing value back to the community in other blog posts. In my striving for the big picture, look for me to do more of that in the days and weeks ahead.
I have said elsewhere that I believe Empire Avenue has the potential to be something big. We depend in large measure on the founders of the site making that happen. But, we also have to contribute if it is to be an exceptional place for us. I hope you will join me in that journey.
In keeping with greater engagement, please join the conversation. Why are YOU here? Do you see that changing over time?