The Slow Spiraling Death Of Empire Avenue

It’s been a bit over 18 months since I last wrote about this site called Empire Avenue. At the time I wrote some tips on how one might actually play the game.

Unfortunately, these days you’re more likely to get one of these while cruising through some of the accounts on the site:

EA404

What’s going on? Basically it’s all come down to money. In essence, the people who run the site are trying to find a money model that will help them make money and the people who use the site are irked at all the changes that have made it more difficult for some of them to drive up their scores drastically, as well as some of the networking that used to go on.

What the game does is works like a stock market of sorts. One earns what they call eaves, their equivalent of money, one of two ways. One is by having lots of people buy shares in you. The other is in doing things on social media sites, enough so that it helps impact your score in a positive way.

To encourage people to buy shares in you, one of the biggest things you had to do was buy shares yourself, if not necessarily in those folks. When you reached certain levels you could decide to increase your level via using up some of your eaves or by spending a little bit of cash, most often $20. Some people had no problem with that, thus some money was raised. But that wasn’t enough it seems, so now it not only costs you way more of your own eaves to move up a level (2.2 million eaves as opposed to the 500,000 it used to be) but $50 instead of that $20. And many more things cost money as well.

Then the site decided to kill the option of many of the folks using certain automated tools to help them along in playing the game. I’m not necessarily griping at that one because I’m someone who’s always played the game directly. But people had automatic messages and automatic buying and automatically could find players who were new or growing or whatever else you wanted to find out. All of that is gone.

One final thing the site did, which made me happy, was start giving more value to people who were actually playing the game. My own score started going up more often since I play the game almost every day, but many of the top people’s scores started to stagnate, especially after their auto tools went away.

What’s happened? Many people have stopped playing the game. Those who decide to make a statement when they leave close their account, which results in that image above and people getting their money back if they’d ever bought any eaves in those accounts. More eaves is nice, but your score takes a major hit every time it happens, and it’s happening a lot now. So, even though my daily score will increase, all it takes is someone to close their account who owned even 500 of my shares and suddenly my score is dropping. And when your score drops, no one wants to buy any of your shares for a while.

Here’s the thing. I’m once again seeing a website that seemed to have a good thing going messing up and not listening to its users. I can’t say that I have a lot of suggestions for this site because truthfully, I’m mainly there playing it only as a game. But there are some fairly smart people playing the game who have played for a long time that do offer lots of suggestions, but administration doesn’t seem to be listening to almost any of those people, which makes them leave.

That’s what happened to a site I used to participate on many years ago called Ryze, which for awhile was one of the top 500 websites in the world and is now sitting down around 71,000 per Alexa. And it’s also what’s happened to sites like MySpace and Friendster; that last one isn’t even around anymore as far as I know.

There’s nothing wrong with making money; heck, all of us are out to make money however we can get there. However, there’s something inherently wrong with the system when a few people decide to totally shake things up and alienates enough people so that they leave & make a site obsolete. Facebook has dangled on that thin line for awhile and keeps surviving, and yet I’m reading more stories from people who have deleted their accounts. How many people are actually using AOL for anything more than email and possibly to read a news story here and there? Yahoo? Excite?

If it’s a blog or something owned by one person who decides to change things up, it’s only on you and more power to you. But if it’s your livelihood and you’ve got a lot of people to play with you, so to speak, drastically changing your model so that you alienate your core base and become off-putting to new members is suicidal. Of course it’s still up to the owners to do what they want to do but if I’m the last man standing on the game… well, trust me, if it looks bad I won’t be.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

They Like Me, They… What?

Those of you who have read this blog for awhile know that one of the few games I play online is this game and page called Empire Avenue. It’s kind of a social media stock market game where you trade on each other rather than specific companies or products.

A little overtanned?
radioher via Compfight

One of its features is that you can leave what’s called “shout outs” to people to either thank them for buying your shares or respond to those who write you. As my stock price has gone up I’ve been getting a lot of responses, and I’ve been responding to a lot of people who have purchased my shares. I’m not as good at thanking people who buy my shares unfortunately, and I thought that maybe I needed to work on that.

I “thought” about it, that is. I was dismayed about a month ago when I learned that almost all of the messages I get are automated. I didn’t even know one could do that but it seems that I’m not really as popular or as well liked as I’d thought after all.

I probably should have noticed it earlier because it was the same response every single time, and I knew that, based on doing it once, the page will reject a message that it considers a duplicate if you’re writing it. So, it seems automation can get people around that.

It also explains why no one ever responded when I sent them a message back. I mean, if everything’s automated, why would they even have to consider responding back to anyone right?

About a month ago I talked about over automation and gave reasons why I don’t and won’t do it. On my Twitter profile I have a message that says if you add me and I follow you and then you auto-DM me I’ll unfollow you immediately, and I stick with that. These days almost everyone new I connect with on Twitter has connected with me first, and I’ve learned that many people are connecting with me via automation, looking for keywords in messages I post and therefore bypassing my profile entirely. It also probably explains why so many that connect with me disconnect with me, usually within a week. Hey, that’s their prerogative.

Here’s my point. Social media is called that because it’s supposed to be social. Over-automation basically makes social impersonal. Sure, there are lots of folks saying that we love getting greetings or thank you messages because they make us feel special. Think about it; how special do you feel when you get an automated email thanking you for leaving a comment on a blog without a response back to your comment with it? As a matter of fact, outside of getting confirmation that you either signed up for or left something, how often do you enjoy getting something automated anywhere?

Does someone actually like you if it’s not them telling you so? Do you care?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

What It Takes To Play Empire Avenue

Back in October, I wrote about this kind of interesting online stock market type of game called Empire Avenue. It’s like playing the stock market, only it’s based on social media, or some of it. At the time I had only been playing a couple of weeks, so the jury was still out. I thought it was time for a follow up on the whole thing.

Basically, this is how the game works. You are judged based on how you participate in social media. When I initially joined, I thought that a part of its purpose was to help you make connections through your social media outlets; that’s not quite true unfortunately, although I have made some. Instead, there are things you’re kind of expected to do in order to get your stock price, since everyone has a price, to go up, thereby encouraging others to invest in you, which is also what helps your price go up.

A bit more detail. When you create an account, the expectation is that you’re going to link to all of your social media outlets. This means Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, your blogs, and other accounts if you have them. This is how they track how much you’re participating in social media.

They also then track how much activity you have on the game itself. This second part doesn’t seem to impact your growth at all, but instead impacts whether you’ll fall or not. By this I mean that it helps the worth of your account, which they track in eaves instead of a true monetary thing, go up or down. You can acquire great wealth in game terms; I’m worth more than $3.5 million at this point, but its virtually meaningless because wealth is only how you get to gauge yourself; it’s not anything that people use in evaluating whether or not they should buy your shares.

What makes you valuable? How much you participate in certain ventures. Blogging on self hosted platforms means virtually nothing because, like Klout, they don’t have a real way of evaluating its importance. For instance, I have 5 blogs and occasionally I’ve had 5 blog posts on the same day. But it’s not counted for almost anything so I could pretty much eliminate my blogs from consideration without having it affect the game. However, if I had a WordPress.com blog, or a Tumblr blog, for the game those can be measured, and thus people with those platforms get a lot of juice; the same probably can be said for Blogger blogs, but I’m not as sure about those.

What I’ve noticed is that if I post a lot of things on Facebook my growth the next day is, well, growth, and good growth. This more I post, the higher it is. Posting things on Twitter don’t count as much unless you’re posting things and including their name in on it; that’s why you see so many people with these things flying on Twitter all the time; it promotes the site, they like it and reward you for it. I’m a big user of Twitter for the most part, and thus you’d expect that my score would reflect that but it doesn’t unless combined with a lot of things being put on Facebook.

I have to do that because I don’t have a lot of activity on LinkedIn, I don’t have a Four Square account, I don’t have a Flickr account and I don’t have an Instagram account. Other than Twitter, I’m really not someone out there posting stuff just to be doing it, and I only know about the Facebook thing because I did an experiment. Truthfully, if you participate minimally on Empire Avenue but a lot elsewhere, you’ll benefit a lot. Actually, the game pretty much ignores LinkedIn as well unless it doesn’t have anything else to look at; that’s in their rules as well.

A prime example is the account for Chris Pirillo, who many people know as one of the top social media personalities in the country. I have him on my watch list because he’s in the top 3 for highest stock price, and is almost always in some manner of growth. His most recent week (as of Sunday) looked something like this:

* 31 Empire Avenue Actions this week

* 81 Facebook Posts, 1393 Comments, 2866 Likes this week

* 214 Tweets posted this week

* 4 upload sets to Flickr this week

* 63 Videos posted to YouTube this week

* 42 blog posts this week

Notice that he barely participates on the site? But look at everything else; which of us as an individual could even think of coming close to doing this much stuff? I can match the tweets, but that’s about it.

In the long run one has to determine what they’re playing the game for. If it’s to try to get a really high score you might have to think about what else you’re willing to give up to get it done. I have read where some people say they spend 3 to 4 hours a day working on trying to get their stock price up; that’s just incredible. I almost dropped this game a month ago because I was thinking that it’s way too much work. I mean, I play games to win, and now that I know the commitment it would take to win this game, I know I’m not up to it. After all, I have to try to make money right?

I have connected with a few people, but I think I’ve only really talked to 2 of them. As I stated in the previous post, conversation on the site is pretty much nonexistent. I did join a community here and there, but either the group was fairly dead or it involved people mainly posting links here and there but not getting any comments and not commenting on anything. Frankly, I’d rather take my chances with the blogs. 🙂

What will I do? It’s something I have to consider within the next couple of weeks. I do have some fun, but now that I know that participating in the game as far as buying and selling shares of others really has no impact on my price, and knowing that I’m tired of posting things to Facebook just for the sake of raising my score on Empire Avenue instead of because I found something in my travels that I think others might want to see, it might be time for it to go the way of Klout for me and just stop playing and take my attentions elsewhere.

Definitely something to think about. After all, I have gotten some Twitter followers out of it, and about 75% of the meager number of people subscribed to my YouTube account came from this game. But without any interaction is it really reaching my objectives for the amount of time I’d have to put into it? If you play, do you have any thoughts on this?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Empire Avenue – Social Media Or A Game?

After kind of being cajoled into taking a look at this thing, I finally decided to join Empire Avenue so I could get a sense of what it was all about.

What I was told was that it was a system that would help you measure your social media status because it would allow people to buy “stock” in your online performance. What it’s turned out to be is more along the lines of BlogShares, something I signed up for years ago, where people would buy stock on the progress of your blogs, with the intention of helping you get people to visit your blog and thus increase your visits and, ergo, your blog’s worth.

BlogShares seems to have fallen on hard times somewhat. I say that because it says I’m worth $146 billion (yup, you read that right) and I really haven’t done much over the years, and somehow when I went there a couple of months ago I didn’t even own any stock, including in my own blogs. It may or may not still be viable, and thus it’s probably how something like Empire Avenue jumped in and has taken off… to an extent.

Why do I say that? Well, I’ll say this; there are some fairly active people on the site. However, there aren’t as many people there that I thought I’d know. As a matter of fact, overwhelming people are buying stock into my site that I have no idea who they are. And when I try to find out more about them, I notice that many of them don’t even have websites, let alone blogs. That’s kind of freaky, but it’s not needed.

That’s because as long as a person has an account on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, they’re good. They can also have an account on YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr and a couple other sites and still be considered as legitimately taking part in social media.

I’ve been a part of it for two weeks now, and I’ll say this; it could probably be addicting for many people, and I know by reading some of the messages in the Facebook group for EA, as some of the folks call it (that makes me think of Electronic Arts so I probably won’t use it again) that some folks are taking it way too seriously. See, you buy shares in people whose stock price seems to be rising, just like the real stock market. But the other side of it is that some people will sell stocks if someone seems to be falling, and some of those folks are losing their minds thinking other people aren’t being, well, loyal. Y’all know how I am about loyalty, but it’s a game. And let’s face this fact; if you don’t know those people, then when was loyalty ever built?

To this end my stock price has risen pretty quickly, and it says I have a pretty good net worth. I think where I’m benefiting is that it lets you list up to 5 blogs and I have 5 blogs, 4 of which I write something fairly regularly. You earn a certain amount of points for every blog post; rather, they call them “eaves”, though truthfully I have no idea what this means.

For that part there’s a lot of things said on the site that I have no idea what they mean. And I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you this much. The site will give you a chance to get backlinks to your sites, including your blogs. You can check people’s About page to see if they have blogs, as some people will check yours, and if you’re lucky they’ll endorse your blog. If they actually visit your blog after that, it’s all good; I don’t endorse any blog I don’t look at first.

The site has what it calls “community pages”, which is more like lots of forum pages where you can join one for things that interest you. I’ve only joined two, one for Syracuse and one for books, and for now that’s all I’m joining because it’s hard following conversations; I don’t like that part, and wish it was more like a true forum where, if you click on the link that tells you someone responded to you or wrote on a topic you wrote on that it took you directly to that topic; nope.

I’ve also found that it’s hard to engage a person on the site. They have kind of an email system but I don’t want to use their email since I have my own. They also have what they call the “shareholder’s email”, which I think you have to pay for in either real money or eaves; I’m not really sure what that’s all about either but I turned that off.

In any case I’m hoping it might turn into something that actually becomes more social as much as a game, but I’m doubting it. I can tell you this; the site hasn’t cracked the top 25 for any of my blogs as far as referral traffic coming my way, which tells me that many people are endorsing my blogs but not visiting them. Hey, whatever floats their boat, right? If you go to the site think of it as a stock market game and nothing else, at least for now; then you might enjoy it for awhile.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell