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The new social media darling is a "game" called Empire Avenue. While some people are flocking to it, others are calling it outright evil. I'm curious about your take.

The game basics are:

  • People's social media profiles are turned into entities that you can own stock in.

  • Your entity grows in value  (in terms of escalating value) as you create and share content and when others invest in you.

  • When you connect your profile to your other accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, your blog, YouTube, etc.), you add even more to your value.

  • You earn money (Eaves is its virtual currency) by buying stock in others and benefiting when their value rises.

  • You can also send shout-outs, belong to communities, and network.

  • There are achievement badges for actions taken much like we're used to with Foursquare.

So---good or bad idea?

Online proponents argue that:

  • It validates and builds on native social behaviors. You are adding value by participating, so it makes sense that your value increases.

  • It's very sticky. There's lots of traction already on the site, and brands are just making their way to the platform. (Will there be shareholder meetings or offline perks to investors?)

  • It's open source, and third-party developers are already creating interesting add-ons.

  • It features lots of places (chat rooms and communities) for people to interact and connect.

But people who are labeling it evil say that:

  • It's just more elitist; everyone thinks and says the same thing (more echo chamber activity).

  • It feeds the ego of the "in crowd" and is basically a popularity contest (in terms of the buying/selling and stock valuation).

  • People are already paranoid about being sold---their profiles are promising "if you don't sell me, I'll never sell you."

  • It's about quantity (how much noise are you making) versus quality.

As you can imagine, the debate has begun.

Before I ask your opinion, I want to share with you two very divergent points of view on the topic that I found on just one of the many blogs digging into this.

Kathy Sierra (in the comments section of a David Armano post):  "But for too many of us, focusing on building OUR social currency comes at the direct expense of other things we could be doing that would be far more useful (and ultimately desirable) for our users."  (Read the post and all the  comment here.)

Marty Thompson (also in the comments section of Armano's post): "When I look at the Empire Avenue dashboard, or whatever their folks call the UI, it reminds me of the main chart from a classic book by David Aaker, Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name. It is a classic work and as relevant today as it was when written years ago."

Is this more self-gratuitous navel-gazing (thanks to Steve Woodruff for that) or is this a great, interactive way for brands to connect with their best supporters? What do you think?  Good, evil, or not interesting enough in the long term to be either?

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Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

LinkedIn: Drew McLellan

Twitter: @DrewMcLellan