Empire Avenue – What is it Good for?

Empire Avenue is an interesting concept in this world of Social Media and Social Media Marketing.

We are told to network, to make connection in our industries and across others to broaden our horizons, to reach out to our customers. Engage, Engage, Engage!

With all of this engaging going on, who’s doing all the real work? (Only joking)

Many people still don’t see the benefits of Social Media, it took the advent of Tweetdeck for me to see the benefit of Twitter as a networking tool. But slowly as these things come more into the mainstream and more importantly, experiences are discussed about the benefits and pitfalls of this new form of marketing.

Empire Avenue takes all of this engagement and networking and turns it into a game.

I used to play AlexaDex, it was a share trading game based on the traffic that websites recorded according to Alexa.

Empire Avenue does something similar where it gathers information about your social connections via sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube and Flickr, plus what you do on the Empire Avenue site and give you a score, or a share price.

If people in the game think you are an upwards mover, they can buy shares in your profile to hopefully make a profit on your rise.

It seems to me that it is a really fun version of Klout, or similar social media analytics programs.

It is a great way to make measuring your connectedness and engagement fun.

To be honest, you may even engage more, to increase your share value.

A bit of a chicken and egg scenario then, not only does it report on your social engagement, but it encourages you to engage more.

I like it. I like the fact that it can make the measurement fun. It has encouraged me to be more vocal in social networking circles, which in itself is not a bad thing.

What is your experience? Do you like it? Do you think it is a big waste of time?

(I had to put this in…)


Search Trends for 2011

Here is an interetsing video from Matt Cutts of Google with Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand, talking about future trends for search in 2011.

They talk about the increased importance of social media in influencing ranking. While still small, it shows a shift towards social as a means of determining importance of content on the web.

Towards the end of the video, they talk about how Google is trying to avoid the poisoning of somones persona on the web by taking multiple sources of information, reviews etc to try to weed out any malicious or extraneous reviews or comments. Matt says that they take over 500 sources to try and determine this, I wonder what they are?

Another important note, is that even though these sites are classed as social networks, if Google can’t crawl them, (possibly because of high security settings) then that information remains hidden and cannot be used in building ranking.

So will SEO now become more about the persona of the individual or company, will the “quality” of the persona be just as important as the “quality” of the links or the “quality” of the content?

The next big industry….Persona Management 🙂

Is “like” the most powerful word in the world?

Such a small word, but surprisingly, it has immense connotations.

I got to thinking about this after watching The Social Network, the movie about Facebook, it’s genesis and growth.

In the movie Mark Zuckerberg, the “co-founder” of Facebook has a lightbulb moment; that peoples relationship status is an incredibly important part of a persons profile.

There are a number of key features in Facebook that make it so connectible and therefore so important to many peoples lives.

Most, if not all, revolve around sharing information: pictures, comments, links to sites, hobbies, interests, the list goes on.

But possibly the most important is the concept of Like

Like in itself is a very average word, you will not find Love on Facebook, nor will you find the ability to rate on a scale.

One thing that has been regularly asked for, but just as regularly ignored is the request for a dislike button (or hate as some people have wanted it to be called)

The fact that you can only make something positive, yet only averagely positive is a concept and can raise some interesting questions:

  1. If something has no likes, is it bad, or just invisible.
  2. How many likes = cool?
  3. Why is there no dislike or any negative option?

With the last one, Facebook probably don’t want to have to be moderating all of the dislikes, they have enough on their plate with hate pages and groups, objectionable picture uploads and more.

But while watching the movie, I started thinking about the word “like” and it’s links back to the sites creator.

Zuckerberg, as depicted in the movie, is a brilliant problem solver who has inspirational moments (seemingly when he is angry) to build social style websites.

Paradoxically, he seemed socially awkward and the first scene of the movie shows him being dumped by his girlfriend for his eccentricities.

Is it strange that someone who was obviously not moving within a social crowd was able to create and implement various things specifically around the social glue that we thrive on?

Is “like” an extension of this?

Until relatively recently, pages and groups on Facebook had Fans. These Fans were Facebook users that took an interest in a particular page or group and added themselves as a Fan in the same way Like was used for comments and status updates.

When Facebook changed all of the Fans to Likes I couldn’t understand the reasoning. The differentiation it brought seemed logical and fitted the nature of the Groups and Pages.

But I got the impression from the movie that Zuckerberg didn’t want Fans. He wanted people to Like what he did.

Maybe Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, or at least his socially hip and well connected shadow.

Facebook Credits – And it Begins

I have just noticed Facebook Credits appearing on my Facebook page. I have been saying for a while, that a key shift for Facebook will be the implementation of some sort of Marketplace, to make Facebook a viable platform for businesses. Facebook Credits may be the start of this.

Part of the issue with Facebook as a business platform is that is was not designed as such, it was designed purely as a way of people connecting socially.

With this social mindset, users are not looking to Facebook to solve their “I need to buy” or ” I need to find” problems. If I am looking for Christmas presents, I do not think of Facebook as the first place to go to get something.

However, there are plenty of things being advertised through Facebook PPC ads that may be suitable.

Until Facebook changes the mentality of it’s users into thinking of Facebook as a viable e-commerce marketplace, the effectiveness of Pages as a marketing channel will be limited.

Imagine being able to go to Facebook, enter the marketplace and be able to purchase goods from local and international suppliers.

One key difference here is that Facebook ads are targeted at you, not who you are purchasing for, a marketplace could change this dynamic, by using profile data of your friends to provide you with good information to help make those purchases.

Would you use Facebook if it offered a targeted marketplace? Would you mind if your profile data was used to help others buy you cool gifts?

And it Begins….

The Growing Use / Influence of Social Networking

As a web professional, I try to look at and investigate new ideas, trends, and concepts that appear in the industry.

Not only because they may work for me, but also so I can give advice on these topics to my clients, coming from some if not much experience.

Take as an example my Facebook and Bebo profiles.

I initially started both up as an exercise to see if either would be beneficial from a business point of view. In the process of doing this I have started to use Facebook, but not Bebo.

This is basically down to two things:

  1. Facebook was best connected to my social network
  2. It seemed to work better

In looking at these two products, I can now talk to my clients about them with some experience.

All advice is clouded by the experiences of the giver, but I believe it is better to have this experience, however small.

The by product of this is that I am now a regular Facebook user, not only for work, but for personal reasons. My wife and I have Bejeweled challenges each week!

So as a web / IT professional, the emergence of these technologies and our need to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable about them does mean we spend time and effort immersing ourselves.

Twitter is another good example. One we cannot ignore due to it’s explosion of popularity. I am now about to do workshops on Web 2.0 and social networking, talking to people about these products, services and the concept of social networking as a business tool.

But here is the crux for me. Twitter became much more usable, effcient and meaningful, not because Twitter is so cool, but because I found a tool (Tweetdeck) that makes it work for me.

Having to refresh my Twitter stream each time I wanted to check, made it more remote and less engaging.

Now, having notfications, means that I am now using Twitter as a real communication tool.

I believe that the emergence of these tools to augment and improve on the great ideas on the net is key to the further success of these concepts.

After looking at the specs for HTML 5, the reliance on client side applications to enhance websites like Twitter looks like to be disappearing, to the point, where HTML 5 may make web apps as interactive and functional as desktop applications are now. (At least that is what Google seems to be heading towards)

What tools do you use to enhance your online experience? What has been a real “key” to getting more out of an existing service?

Leave me a comment and let me know

PersianKiwi and the dangers of using Twitter in Iran

No one knows if “Persian Kiwi” or PK has any connections to New Zealand, however, it has definitely captured the attention of some media in New Zealand.

What it doe though is highlight how Twitter has become a key issue in Iran.

With the Iranian Government stopping the access to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, users have been determined to find ways of accessing these sites via proxies around the world.

Now it looks possibly like those who have succeeded in making it past the censorship gates are now being hunted by the government.

It shows how as time moves on and things progress, the same things happen in more modern ways.

I love this song by the Propellerheads (with the amazing Shirley Bassey) call History Repeating, where the key phrase is:

I’ve seen it before….and i’ll see it again

For Twitter, read Pirate Radio, read Rock n Roll.

The message will get out, Twitter is just the current medium.

One key difference is the access and the huge ability to disseminate information widely around the world.

Access because you can post to Twitter via your mobile phone or anywhere with internet access (providing you can circumvent the blocks)

And the ability to disseminate the information via the internet is so huge these days, and the inherent nature of the social networking sites makes this even easier for viral explosions of news and current affairs

WP Greet Box – some pretty cool use of Ajax :)

I cam across WP Greet Box, looking for some kind of Twitter integration (of which it isn’t really)

Anyway, looked like a great way to interact with visitors and from a social point of view a great way to encourage others to network via RSS, Twitter, Facebook etc.

By default the following are covered

  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Stumbleupon
  • Technorati
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Live and MSN
  • Blogmarks
  • Blinklist
  • Diigo
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • ma.gnolia
  • Mister-Wong
  • Myspace
  • Newsvine
  • Reddit
  • Simpy
  • Plurk
  • LinkedIn

There are other you can activate including Youtube, WordPress, Tumblr and more.

It will be interesting to see what come of the change, if it drives more social interactions.

I’ll report back as to it’s success or otherwise (By the way, once I installed it, got three new Followers on Twitter, coincidence? mmm)

Mashups, Integration and Cooperation

facebook-logo.jpgIn this more sharing and caring world of Web2.0, the idea of sharing information between platforms has become one of the key issues for sites such as Facebook to deal with.

Facebook is a great site (must be great, even my Mum thought it was a great idea!) and over the last few days I have made a couple of changes to integrate Facebook with Twitter.

I am a Twitter newbie, and got my first Follower today (Thanks Rich Henry from Get Frank)

But the connection between Twitter and Facebook isn’t as easy as it might appear.

I added a program to Facebook to connect my Facebook to my Twitter account, but it only goes one way, you can Twitter and the tweets appear as items on your Facebook profile, but there wasn’t an obvious way to get your staus updates from Facebook to appear in Twitter.

In similar fashion, I have been able to get my blog posts to appear as items in my Facebook profile, that is a really neat aspect, but again there didn’t seem to be a Blog -> Twitter option.

twitterfeed_logoToday I found out about Twitterfeed, this is a system where you can take the RSS feed of your site and feed it into Twitter (The proof will be when I post this)

Again a great idea to join these two different systems.

But the killer app would be one that does all of these (plus other social sites as well)

If you make one, all credit goers to me for thinking it up first, kay 🙂

What other cool mashups do you know of?