May 8 2011

Empire Avenue – Measuring Social Media Influence?

Empire AvenueEmpire Avenue is yet another way of trying to measure just how influential someone is in the social media scene, but, as with all of its predecessors, it’s broken on launch.

I won’t lie, the link above to the new social media game Empire Avenue will earn me some credits in the game.  Just because I’m going to mock something doesn’t mean I don’t also participate in it.

Since the dawn of social media, people have been trying to figure out who is the most influential, who has the furthest “reach”, who has the most “klout” and so on.  The problem is that as soon as these services launch, someone figures out how to game them, or they give such a weighted value to well-known social media types that people lost interest because they know that their scores will never go up.  Lets face it, unless you are a blustery windbag (like some I won’t name), you’re never going to be considered a “network influencer” because you don’t cause enough drama.  And if you don’t think manufactured drama fuels the social media scene, then you should be thankful for being blissfully unaware.

Empire Avenue is at least up front about the fact it’s a game, and that’s part of the reason I’m enjoying it so much.  People are desperately running around trying to improve their “worth” on a fabricated stock exchange because they have some sort of delusion it will prove how valuable they are in the social media sphere.  While I am well aware I’m playing a game and know that my supposed “worth” isn’t even as valuable as the pixels that take to display it on my screen.

Lets take a look at my profile.

Empire Avenue Profile

In another day or so it should look even more “impressive” because I will have been on the service for five days and that’s when calculations for your activities on other sites kicks in.  For now, it’s a decent amount of “achievements” and so on, but can you spot the gaming?  Notice it says the my two blogs ( and have been endorsed ten times?  For a blog to help your score it needs to be endorsed five times, so how did I get my endorsements so quickly?  I went on the blogging community board and asked people I don’t know to endorse them, and I did the same for them.  Yep, really measures your influence, doesn’t it?

Seven people have bought shares in me thus far, a couple of them then left me messages asking me to do the same for them as the more investors you have, the higher your ranking on the site.

Once again, a site comes along to help you see who is the most influential in social media, and immediately people begin gaming it to get a higher score and make people think they are big names in the industry.  The thing I hate to break to these people is … no one is ever going to look at Empire Avenue as any sort of true metric.  It’s just not going to happen.

The other issue?  You will never get your average person to play this game because they just aren’t going to care about it.  A virtual stock exchange where you buy shares in people?  It’s absurd, involved and quite frankly, boring.  Do you think your average Facebook user is really going to care what their value is on a faux stock exchange?  No, they don’t.

While this game is all the rage right now in the social media scene, just like so many other things that have popped up over the past few years, it will fade into relative obscurity within a month or two.  The main reason is it does nothing useful.  Something like Twitter is useful, Empire Avenue is a time suck with no useful aspects that people will eventually figure out and move on to “the next great thing.”

You want to know the secret to knowing how influential you are in social media?  Just don’t care about it and use the tools that actually do you some good.  If extra people start following you, it’s just a nice byproduct.

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