Sunday, July 17, 2011

Empire Avenue (Social Influence Scoring)

Social network
This is the third of what will likely be a four part series discussing Empire Avenue. Empire Avenue is one part game, one part social network and one part social network influence ranking. I'm still going back and forth as to whether this is a brilliant or misguided approach. This time out I'm going to talk a bit about the social network influence ranking portion.

My big issue with the other two sites that I'm familiar with that measure social network influence is that they combine the activity from multiple different sites into one composite score. This seems wrong to me and I made a post on Quora that elicited a response from Eva Schiffer that agreed with my basic premise so apparently I'm not totally off base in this belief.

Empire Avenue does not take this approach. The score each social network individually. You can see this at my public Empire Avenue page. Here's what you'll see as of today for the four sites Empire Avenue tracks.
  • Out of 100
  • 15 Out of 100
  • Out of 100
  • Out of 100
Clearly I have a lot of room for growth, particularly on Flikr and YouTube. Actually I'm not sure I agree with the Flikr score. I've been posting images fairly regularly for a month now and have had a few views and contacts along the way. Based on that I'd expect to see at least a three or a four.

I don't have any issues with the other scores. I'm modestly active on Facebook and use it as a means to keep in touch with what is going on with my near to mid tier social network. It have zero interest in opening it up to a wider audience. I use Twitter and./or one of my BLOG's if I want to share with a wider audience.

Empire Avenue does provide some more detailed stats tools that give a slightly better idea of how you're doing. For instance on Twitter I have a quality score of two out of five and an audience score of 1.5 out of five. It's not entirely clear to me how I raise my quality score but the audience score is reasonably self explanatory.

By breaking things down Empire Avenue provides much better visibility into what is and isn't working when you're trying to assess how you're doing while trying to build your social network influence. Based on anecdotal and personal experience though don't expect this feedback to be instant. It takes a week or so for an initial number to be established and after that changes come slowly. If you're trying something new be patient and don't just count on your Empire Avenue scoring. Each of these sites offers mechanisms that will give you much quicker feedback on how things are going like "Follows" and "Contact" adds. Empire Avenue does provide some external confirmation though as well as a place you can point people to in order to validate how you're doing.

Having said all that, there are some problems with the way Empire Avenue does their scoring. Broadly speaking there are two ways you can use a social network. The one I'm most interested in is to aid in engagement; high quality interactions that teach me something and give me an opportunity to get to know people. The second and much more common way that social networks are used is to create low engagement and high volume conduits to an audience that may or may not be listening. Sharon Hayes recently completed a ten week experimental engagement on Empire Avenue and made some very good points in an article she posted yesterday after disengaging. I highly recommend it.

So far as I can tell this rewarding of high volume/low touch engagement is pretty much par for the course. Hopefully we'll see continued refinement in the methodologies being used by Empire Avenue and other social network influence measuring sites.

Image via Wikipedia
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