I’m Moving to Empire Avenue!

This likely won’t come as a shock to many of you; I’ve been invited to go work on Empire Avenue.

Of course, I said yes.

Starting Thursday, September 1st, my role will be, as with any startup, kinda fuzzy to begin with. Officially I’ll be the Director of Social and Community Management. In reality, I’ll be blogging, working with the various communities, and helping the team get things done. Whatever those things may be. Clean up after the Squirrel, you know.

What I’m leaving behind
For the last five years, I’ve been a Web Content Specialist and Web Business Analyst with the Alberta Motor Association.

It’s be a great time with a marvelous people and a great employer who’s allowed me to make mistakes, grow, and test the corporate waters with innovative social media experiments (hello @AMARoadReports)!

If you’d like to check out the position I’m leaving, here’s the link to the official posting. And I’d be happy to discuss the role, or the organization should you have any questions — email me (bradblog@gmail.com).

The Future
Well, as I said, it’s going to be kinda fuzzy. Empire Avenue is a startup, and as such, there are lots of cool things that we’re doing, and that can be done! And in my work with community, I’m going to be working with and asking a lot of questions of *you*.

So, what can we do, together, on ‘the Avenue’, hmmm? Let’s find out!

Brown paper packages tied up with string…

If you follow my Twitter stream you know that I’m helping some friends out with a very cool Social Media project called Empire Avenue.  We’ve gotten a little bit of press about it lately, most notably this article on Mashable. I’ve not talked about Empire Avenue a lot on my blog as I wasn’t really prepared — lots of other stuff going on, etc. But now is the time..

In the last few months, I’ve noticed a few things about the Empire Avenue world that have really impressed me. Allow me a few moments to wax poetic on a few of those things.

In the latest development release, codnamed ‘Cork’, Empire Avenue gained Communities — places where you can hang your hat and focus your influence development.
For me the key word is Focus. Unlike Facebook or other sites where community participation has few consequences, an Empire Avenue Community forces you to focus, because;

  • You are limited in the number of Communities you join – which should provide more real value to all members, unlike other communities where you just join-up to express support. An Empire Avenue Community with an active group of members can be an exciting place with relevant discussion and content.
  • Your Influencer activity and value benefits the Community
  • Additional dividends are generated for the Community based on your activity

I love the new design. The tabbed interfaces, page zones, and overall look and feel not only appeal to my designy-side, they are also hugely functional for me. I can’t wait to see what the designers come up with for mobile devices 😉

Blogger Posts
Now this is really neat. Over the evolution of the beta, many participating Influencers have created their own blogs to support their activity. Not simply a blog post, they’ve started up new blogs dedicated to Empire Avenue. Here’s an incomplete list of what I’ve seen so far.

In the near future, if you’ve got an Empire Avenue focused blog, you’ll be able to register it with Empire Avenue, and we’ll keep a master list. It’s not live yet, but we’re workin’ on it.

Development Team

Sure, it’s easy to say ‘These are the best guys I’ve ever worked with’. It’s also easy to say that this whole team is the best team I’ve worked with. Because it’s true. They’re challenging, entertaining, enjoy what they’re doing, and are hoopy froods that really know where their towel is. Engage them on Twitter, buy them a beer, and maybe they’ll tell you stories…

The Market Makers
We’ve got a team of Market Makers — software entities with personalities that work in the background — that analyze Influencer online activity and a number of other *secret factors* to arrive at an Influence Value. These Market Makers all have distinct personalities and characteristics that come into play at various times, yet all seem to be doing quite well in helping to establish Influence Value; which is also determined by market trading activity.

So there you have it. Five of my  ‘Favourite Things’ about Empire Avenue. As I’ve said, we’re still in beta, and we do have many more things to finish before we open it up to the world.

If you’re not in the Beta and are interested in joining it, ping me on Twitter, I’ll see what I can do 🙂

If you’re in the beta and have some thoughts on your Favourite Things, then please, by all means, leave them in the comments below.

Getting a handle on influence and online content creation

As you may be aware, especially if you’ve been blasted by my twitter stream recently, I’m helping some friends out with the Empire Avenue beta. I’ve written before about Social Media and the Power of Influence, but today I’m going to talk about a few things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

A few things about Empire Avenue:

  • Empire Avenue is about your online Value and your online Influence
  • Empire Avenue’s The People’s Market is a fantasy stock market where the commodity being traded is your Influence.
  • You can buy, sell, trade virtual shares in anyone on the site and rate the value of their personal online brand.

Why I’m into it
For me, it’s about understanding my value to you, my loyal minions friends and readers. There are many models out there for ranking reach, breadth, popularity and power of your blog, or Twitter stream. But there’s really nothing that takes the next step and helps you understand your online value to your readers, no matter the medium be it Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Value in Empire Avenue is determined a number of ways, and that’ll likely be cause for speculation as we move through the beta periods and into full launch later this summer. I believe the details of Empire Avenue algorithms will remain secret, much the same way that Google keeps their search algorithms under tight wraps.

How it helps me
Empire Avenue, as I’m beginning to understand through use, is showing me through activity on my ‘stock’ what members of the Beta think of my content, and of me as a content generator.

Sure, many be speculating or guessing. They’re not really reading my posts and understanding my value, tailriding on the activity of others. That’s fine too, especially since we’re in such a small-sample beta right now.

But, when we start opening the beta up, allowing friends to bring their friends into the mix, these tailriders may be in for a surprise as ‘popularity’ may not be as admirable trait in the marketplace.

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to see how things shake out.

Social media and the power of influence

If you’ve been following me or this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge social media fan — it just seems like the right medium that makes online communication easier. But one subtle aspect of social media is that it’s a very slick conduit for word of mouth marketing, promotion, and advertising — which is why spammers jumped in with both feet quite early on; they realized the power of this medium.

Recently I’ve helped some friends out with a tech. project that really has a bit of potential. It has nothing to do with spam, and a lot to do with influence. You’ve seen me tweet about it and know it as Empire Avenue. Yes, there’s a link, click it and see what we’re doing. Then come back here when you’re done — I’ll wait.

Ah, back now? Excellent. Until we launch I’m not able to talk about too many details, so please forgive the higher-than-normal vagueness factor, but I will sally onward with this post.

On the site you’ve seen referenced things like ‘The People’s Market’. And Pants. Perhaps influence too…

But the really cool part of that page is when you click the blog link at the top and subsequently read the latest on our ‘project’.

And the really cool part (oh, wait, I said that already). The OTHER really cool part is that we’re launching a beta. Yes, I know every Internet startup since Google has a beta; but folk seem to like them and they do give us valuable feedback, so yeah, we’ve got one too.

So, yep, we’re having a beta and looking for a few good folk interested in social media and the power of influence. And since you’re actually doing a bit of work for us, helping us test out this monster and all, we’re giving a little back:

Enter your email for early access to the beta and an exclusive Achievement that will never be available to anyone in the world or the universe ever again.

What’s an achievement? That’s a question for later, but the question for now is; do you want in? If so, drop us a line at beta@empireavenue.com. We’ve got limited spots initially, but we’ll add your name to the list and roll them out as we can.

And yes, we do expect people will write about the beta, that’s fine. And we encourage it, so if you have a blog, let us know — we’ll try and get you in earlier 😉