By eavave • March 23, 2012

Well now. I'd not seen that before!

Earlier this week, we received a delightful surprise in the form of a member-created Empire Avenue tutorial. Derrik Jacobson, (e)VARATIKI, created a tutorial, but it wasn't simply a standard blog post or YouTube video about Empire Avenue.

Nay, gentle reader, Derrik turned the challenge-o-meter up to 11, and created a seven-part linked Mission tutorial that introduces participants to the concepts of connecting social media networks, networking, and engaging. Yep, it's mostly for new members, or, as Derrik says, "... if things are a little fuzzy for you veterans ;)" But it's not an easy undertaking. Seven parts, each building on the work of the previous one.

This has to be one of the most creative uses of Missions we've seen to date.
At the time that I post this, he's got a few hundred Missions remaining in the Mission pool, so if you're inclined, you can check out the whole mission sequence here, or just review the screen captures of the Missions below.

So who is this crazy dude?
That's pretty much what we were wondering too, so we decided to use this as an opportunity to kick off a new, semi-regular feature where we profile some of the amazing members we have here on Empire Avenue. More on that after we get to the really interesting stuff -- Derrik!

1) Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc.

My background is pretty diverse, although it has always been grounded with a love of technology. Along with the saying that is often used to distinguish architects from engineers - engineers know a lot about a little, architects know a little about a lot - I relate to the architecture side.

My path has carried me through various roles in life, some in the past, some current, but I've been in both inside and outside sales, a project architect, designer, and CAD guru for some, a network and computer maintenance lead, a business owner, a social media marketing and reconnaissance guy, and the head of analytics department.

Oddly, my majors in college were Political Science/International Relations and Spanish. I'm also the guy that gets the call to fix things when they break.

2) How'd you get into Empire Avenue?

If I remember right, I first heard about Empire Avenue from my friend Jeff. Or, maybe it was Carlos. I really don't remember exactly, but it was something of interest that fell through my Twitter feeds. I liked the thought of buying and selling my friends. It seemed fun - have any of those original t-shirts left? :)

But, once I dove into Empire Avenue a bit, things just clicked. I like numbers and am decently active in my personal social media for entertainment as well for as my occupation. It seemed easy enough, and then I found myself hooked. I knew that given just a little bit of time, I would find myself at the top of the charts.

3) Where'd you come up with the idea to have linked Missions?

I like to innovate and create new things and I saw a problem that was kind of a pain point for me, so I devised a way that I could fix it while still operating within the Empire Avenue environment. I had run maybe 10 missions previously and ran into the problem that they would fall off peoples' radar a few days after they were launched. Or, if I wanted to run the same Mission again, many of the same people would be completing it again.

This was fine for reaching active users, but the problem was how to effectively reach new users without launching the same Mission over and over again just to keep it fresh. In addition to that, how do you then prevent active users from accidentally grabbing the Mission's Eaves again if they hadn't checked to see if we had connected in the past?

So, active users will do what they do, and I think you have to allow for that, but then you have to have enough remaining slots for other people and a way for them to find the Missions. My solution: draft a series of Missions that tie together. From there, all you need is one link to get new users started no matter how old the string of Missions.

4) Can you outline the process used to create and link the Missions?

This was pretty simple once I had the plan in place. I chose 7 online assets that I wanted to promote and then I prioritized them figuring that the further down the chain the more drop off they would have.

Once that was done, I built custom links that I could track as well as ones that played nicely with Empire Avenue (I used as my link shortening service), put them in a document in the opposite order that I wanted people to experience them (as you will have to launch this type of Mission backwards since you will only be able to find the next Mission's link in your chain after it is published - for example, I won't be able to link my starting Mission to my 2nd Mission until the 2nd Mission's link is available and I know what it is), and then wrote out the titles and content for each step along the way.

Oh yeah, and then I had to make sure that I had saved up enough Eaves to be able to pull off a feat such as this that maxed out the number of available people that could participate at a reasonable reward. :)

5) How's the response been to the linked Missions?

The response has been fantastic so far and I've been surprised that there really hasn't been much trickle off over the last two Missions considering that Empire Avenue puts on the brakes if you complete five Missions too quickly.

You also do have to figure in that people will be participating in each step along the way since I had to launch the individual Missions before the whole chain was complete... (hint: launch something like this during off-hours) so in that sense, I've received some great partial feedback before people fully understood the bigger picture. But beyond those responses I have fully intended this Quest to be for users that have not connected with me yet so the majority of those responses have yet to come in.

Aside from driving traffic, my biggest goal was to effectively show some of the Empire Avenue's greatest value to new users right out of the gates. It's tough to stand out on the internet and in social media channels these days. Yet, if you can deliver something of value and then drive eyes to it, perhaps some of them will stick. In this sense, if new users can see that this is a fantastic tool that they too can use, hopefully they will also stick on the Ave. However, as of right now, probably 60% of the Mission slots are still outstanding. The jury is still out there.

6) What's next?

I have a few other ideas up my sleeve, but my focus for the near term is to distribute the 'keys' to new users as they join Empire Avenue. This takes a little bit of honest education and establishment of realistic expectations (but for this the response and gratefulness has already been huge), and then sending them on their way... perhaps with a little link to help them along.

Remembering my first days on the Ave, I thought an incentive of needed Eaves distributed in a manner that helps them realize the benefits of Empire Avenue would be a welcomed gesture.

7) Anything you'd like to add?

Missions will continue to become a more crowded space and continued innovation in this space is a must. You can't flatten the playing field here because there is a danger that users will grow tired of them and scaled expenses will discourage big players from launching the alluring, high reward Missions... just like you can't effectively strip the competition out of a game. Pop Salad has recently made the headlines... perhaps people do need a good old Empire Avenue Cage Match (that they can gamble on) again.

[and to the Empire Avenue team, an AWESOME feature that would greatly assist in creating quests such as this would be giving the ability to 'hide' Missions so that they can be launched later in full without users pecking away at them as they are rolled out individually] :)
Thanks Derrik! And yep, we've noted your feature request for further exploration and development!

Get Involved. Get interviewed or recommend someone!
Got an interesting Empire Avenue story to tell or someone you think we should profile? Well then, let us know!

Over the coming weeks, you'll see more interviews and member profiles as we comb through the engaging and interesting work many of you are doing with the Empire Avenue platform.

So if you've got a neat idea or person you think should be profiled, then, by all means, let me know (


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