New Social Network Addiction Alert: Empire Avenue

by Devin Sugameli This weekend, we discovered Empire Avenue – an addictive new social network that allows you to buy, sell, and trade shares in friends, companies, bloggers, and anyone else active on social media. Empire Avenue is a virtual stock market that measures your value based on your activity and relative influence as compared to other users across social networks. For example, Empire Avenue credits your account when you make updates to your Facebook or Twitter status, or when you post to your blog. Your personal stock value is a reflection of both your activity online and the number of other users buying and selling shares in you, as both are considered indicators of your overall influence in the social web. Similar to Foursquare’s badge reward system, you can unlock achievements by spending time on and contributing to the network.

Most interesting to us is Empire Avenue’s advertising platform which is designed to give influencers control over the ads they carry. By giving more power to top influencers, the website claims they are able to provide better targeting and thus better returns for companies using the platform. As Empire Avenue CEO Duleepa Wijayawardhana explained in a blog entry last month,

“[Empire Avenue’s] goal is to give users the choice in advertising, to allow users to participate in the advertising and use of their online brand. You are the only person who should be able to choose the endorsements that have your name attached to them. In fact, we want you to be able to use your virtual share price to negotiate advertising that is meaningful to you and your community, and for advertisers to find those Influencers and networks they may want to engage.”

The network is still small, having just recently celebrated 1,000 users, but we see potential for it to explode soon - and this advertising platform promises to be a hot topic if and when it does. Imagine an avid yelper who negotiates for advertising from his/her favorite restaurants, or a hot deal fanatic who partners with sites like Groupon - both sharing relevant advertising with their networks of friends who see them as their "go-to" people for great food or discount specials. Because it's the influencer directly and not an algorithm based on one-time connections (as seen on Facebook) that chooses which ads to endorse, these advertisements should carry more weight than a similarly well-targeted ad. We're anxious to test this theory ourselves once the site grows.

Empire Avenue is currently invite-only, but you can supply your e-mail to request one on their homepage. We hope to see and trade shares with you in the people's market soon!