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We’ve been watching Empire Avenue grow over the past month, reading as more brands use the platform and considering how (and if) our clients should engage on the network. …

We’ve been watching Empire Avenue grow over the past month, reading as more brands use the platform and considering how (and if) our clients should engage on the network.
After reading the initial buzz, gathering our own opinions after participating on the network and working with our strategy teams, we shared a POV with our global team. After you’ve read through, we want to hear your thoughts and questions on the platform. Do you think trading social currency is the next step for brands engaging on social media? Or are you wondering how Empire Avenue can monitor and grow your brand’s social currency?

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  • 1. What is Empire Avenue?Empire Avenue is social networking platform that merges cross-network social activity with a leaderboard-style game and assigns influence through social currency.The network features encourage user participation through community ranking and a virtual system ofvalue, (Eaves). This results in users focusing on “social currency” and encourages bidding (think financialinvesting) on ticker symbols (one’s username). Both individuals and brands can access the platform andit integrates data and metrics from other social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,YouTube and more.Upon signing up, a user has a set value of $9 “Eaves” in the community’s currency. A user or brandsvalue can grow value through the community bidding on you, engagement on other social networks,and by unlocking features and badges in the Empire Avenue community. As a user acquires more Eaves,they can purchase virtual goods and invest in other community members.A differentiating feature of this network is the integration of multiple platforms and assigning anumerical value based on a person’s engagement and “influence” on other networks. A second marketplace differentiator is the investment model of online currency to engage with a user. New users startwith a bank account to invest in other community members upon signing up. Investment depletes yourbank initially but, as any investment, the gains hopefully outweigh the losses. This experience creates arelationship that is more valuable than the “Like” function on Facebook of following function on Twitter. 1
  • 2. Jeremiah Owyang noted, “This is a highly addictive experience that is similar to stock market gaming ofyour own social network.” His assessment emphasizes the “gameification” features, which continuallydraw users back to online social experiences after initial buzz slows.Specifics  Buy shares in your friends, your followers, people with similar interests, brands you love, celebrities – anyone  Share prices are determined by the amount of social activity and engagement you generate across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr  Empire Avenue has a strong social sharing functionality, users can push their badge earnings and investments to social networks including Twitter and Facebook  Empire Avenue was initially launched as a tool to find online influencers (similar to Klout) by looking at users’ share price, based on their social engagementsFuture Developments  Foursquare integration  Facebook app is currently in open beta; meant to be more consumer-facing  The Facebook app will integrate existing users from the native platformPrimary Audience  Early adopters of social media  PR/Marketing professionals  Demographic: skews male, 18-40 years of ageAn additional feature allows a user to purchase an ad using the network’s currency. Included in any “adbuy” on the network are analytics to track your success and manage your campaign. The basic text adsare purchased on another user’s profile and can be completely customized with your messaging. Adscosts are based on the profile on which you would like to see the ad appear.Why it matters? 2
  • 3. For brands, the network is relevant in that it pulls in quality data from all other major social networks.Users, due to the nature and relative youth of the network are more engaged and tend be moreinfluential than members on other networks. A company or brand can link all of its social media profilesto one community and have a value determined at entry to the network.Companies have started to register and integrate profiles from around the social media ecosystem,including Audi, Ford and Intel. The metrics and data on the Empire Avenue platform is impressive forcompanies in that it draws from multiple sources and assigns a value number based on numerousengagement multipliers from multiple social media networks.Opportunities for BrandsEmpire Avenue’s current user base consists of early adopters. If fans invest in a brand on EmpireAvenue, the brand can reciprocate thus fostering strong relationships with influential users andpotential brand ambassadors. Compared to other networks, the value of a fan, like or follower is higherbecause they have to invest in a brand to engage on Empire Avenue. Interactions are more engagedbecause of the stakes involved – investing in a brand on Empire Avenue requires a decision process, nota simple click.Possibly the single largest opportunity for technology brands will be the ability to grow a highly engaged,and potentially influential, user base of advocates. With a presence on Empire Avenue, technologybrands and companies will have the opportunity to isolate “fans” who are more likely to participate andadvocate on their behalf. This is a clear distinction over networks such as Facebook where it’s unclearwho has influence and is predisposed to acting on behalf of a brand. 3
  • 4. For brands in other market segments, the platform’s relevance is not yet apparent. Your account’sstrategy team representative can provide further insights as to whether your brand should engage onthis platform. If your brand is not yet on the exchange, we recommend registering the brand orcompany, but not necessarily to actively engage on the platform unless appropriate. There is a currentopportunity for Edelman’s brands to engage “investors” over time and develop a relationship with thefounders of the network to explore exclusive opportunities.For users that have already invested in the brand, their investments will function similar to those of anIPO and for those who invest after the brand is on the network, it presents opportunities to engage withthem in ways that offer less restrictions in networks such as Facebook (contests, promotions andrewards).Sources:Harvard Business Review: Serious Play: The Business of Social Currency, David ArmanoWeb Strategist: Empire Avenue Provides Social Gaming Opportunities –and Challenges– for Brands,Jeremiah OwyangScobelizer: The social stock market: Empire Ave, Robert ScobleDachis Group: Cruising for a bruising, Peter KimVoce Communications: Game or Tool? It’s What You Make of It 4