By eavave • March 13, 2012

Empire Avenue turns social media upside down!

The following awesome post is actually an article that appeared in various print publications affiliated with Troy Media by local Edmonton writer Greg Gazin.

When I was assigned to do a story on Empire Avenue – another social media app? – I must admit at first glance I wasn’t very enthusiastic. I was already having a hard time keeping track of the ones I was currently using.

It wasn’t long, however, before I was hooked.

That’s because Empire Avenue, the flagship product of a Canadian company of the same name based in Edmonton, Alberta and Montreal, Quebec, is built on a unique gaming platform – but with a strong social media component. Empire Avenue’s “gamification” of social media encourages and allows you to both expand your network while being better at all social media. And it even rewards you for doing what you do every day.

It’s what social media is all about

While gaming creates a vision of leisurely entertainment, another thing I struggle to find time for, I eventually discovered that Empire Avenue is actually the epitome of what social media is all about – sharing information, creating conversation and building community.

Empire Avenue, however, doesn’t really look, feel, act or even smell like any other social media app, nor is it like any other game for that matter. It’s also, unlike every new entrant claiming to be the next “killer app” or social media star chasing after the 800-pound gorillas – mainstays like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

The purpose of this game is to allow you (a player) to expand your personal presence and engagement by building a network of “investors” who share common interests.

You can also increase your wealth and earn “Eaves,” Empire Avenue’s virtual currency, by inviting your friends to join; investing in them by purchasing their shares; and by buying shares in other players. You can also earn Eaves by completing achievements or earning daily dividends on your investments. All this while having fun and even learning the vagaries of a virtual “stock market”.

While it may seem totally counterintuitive that playing a game could be the ultimate solution for maximizing social media engagement, it isn’t.

In fact, it takes it to the next level, going way beyond just trading shares.

And it doesn’t compete with those 800-pound gorillas; it embraces them. It uses your existing Facebook, Twitter, etc. accounts to help you cast a wider social net, by tracking them, bringing them into the game and by rewarding you for your activity. If you simply connect your accounts to Empire Avenue, you can go about your merry way as you have been and all your likes, tweets, comments, photos, blog posts etc., will be measured and you’ll be rewarded with a higher share price with more Eaves, automatically.

You can then take your suitcases stuffed with Eaves and use them to initiate further activity, such as buy more shares in others or use them as a carrot to drive traffic to your blog and get “likes” on your Facebook page.

Playing has its rewards, however, beyond accumulating Eaves. As you invest and become more active, you’ll notice your network of connections begins to expand very fast. You become more aware of others and they become aware of you.

Your overall social media activity and interactivity across all platforms will also increase, both inside and outside the Empire. In turn, your motivation flourishes, like mine has. You end up subscribing, following, “friending” and tweeting more – hence the real value.

Dr. Ron Capps, author, educator, speaker, publisher and Social Media Systems Developer from Skidmore, Missouri, whose on-line experience pre-dates the Internet, concurs that Empire Avenue encourages wider activity.

“Often we get hung up on one thing. A student, for example, will discover a new tool like Twitter and tweet everything, then they forget about Facebook for a month. They find a bright and shiny object and forget about other objects they have already.”

For people like Ramesh Shankerlal, from Jodhpur, India, mutual connections are very important. Shankerlal, ticker (e)RANSAE, runs a global operation, Ransae Exim, a professional team of exporters, importers and agents. And as a serial entrepreneur, he is always looking for new and varied business opportunities, so it’s important he grow his portfolio of contacts.

“It’s not (just) for the fun of it (that he uses Empire Avenue) or any competition, but because we gain knowledge through people and their experience.”

Shankerlal says that purchasing shares is a “medium of contact,” which opens dialogue and potentially creates friendships and mutually beneficial relationships, which induced a level of enjoyment and satisfaction.

I call it fun!

Investing in someone typically requires more thought. It creates a stronger bond, even an emotional attachment and a genuine sense of (vested) interest, stronger than simply being a follower on Twitter or a friend Facebook.

It also builds a greater sense of community.

People will sign up to Empire Avenue for different reasons. For Dr. Capps, or NICHEPROF as he is known, who recently celebrated his first anniversary onEmpire Avenue, it’s about community, giving back, helping people wade through social media and navigate through Empire Avenue. For him, it’s not about the game, although he has done well.

(NICHEPROF currently has over 4,200 shareholders; a share price of 321.00 eaves and his virtual wealth stands just under 182M eaves(e). RANSAE has just over 900 shareholders, a share price of about 104.00(e) and wealth of 9.6M. To compare, yours truly, GADGET1 has managed to attract 200 shareholders; a share price of just over 72.00(e) with 4M in wealth accumulated over the past few months.)

Goes way beyond a game

In fact, Dr. Capps created his own community (communities are another feature to create conversation, earn eaves and get help.) It’s called Empire Avenue Tips, Touts and Tutorials, an extremely influential community on the Avenue where members help each other navigate the Avenue. But this community recently gave a whole new meaning to “help:” When a member suffered a death in their family, not only did his group offer moral support they actually assisted in helping him find a place to stay. Now that’s one cohesive community!

When I first tried Empire Avenue over a year ago and before I was assigned to do this story, I lasted only a few days and I didn’t really see beyond the game.

What I realize now is that Empire Avenue is much more than simply a social game like playing Farmville via Facebook. Its gaming mechanics are unlike any other, acting as the glue that gives it its social media cohesiveness across multiple platforms while, at the same time, being a catalyst that drives the momentum engine.

Who thought a game could turn social media upside down? I’m glad I was enticed to come back. I guess I would have had it right the first time if I had first “invested” in the doctor.

Greg Gazin, known as The Gadget Guy, is a Tech Columnist, Podcaster, Small Business and Technology Speaker. He can be reached at Gadgetguy.CA  on Twitter @gadgetgreg or find him on Empire Avenue at (e)GADGET1.

This column is FREE to use on your websites or in your publications. However, Troy Media, with a link to its web site, MUST be credited.

Disclaimer: Our owners, writers, and/or guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the above projects and businesses. None of the content on this blog is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner.