As the Easter Bunny readied to blast kids across the nation into a sugar orbit, Empire Avenue was turning the social media world into a low roar of posts, comments and simulated tock trades -- over a holiday weekend no less. Check out Wikipedia for a straightforward definition that may or may not explain why this social stampede took place.
We see lots of reactions when a social site comes out of nowhere to be the flavor of the month -- from effusive praise to effusive loathing. I more than understand the range of emotions -- I've been there. We feel the need to react to the shiny new before understanding it or we risk not being part of the movement.
The need to be first at the risk of being informed is crap.
Everyone wants to wrap up the new into a neat package by comparing it to another existing service and pitting the two against each other in the classic story format of protaganist vs. antagonist.
And we know how well that (doesn't) work. "Remember how FriendFeed was going to kill Twitter? More recently Google Buzz was dealing the final blow to our 140-character-friend. Facebook's Placesz-Z-zzzz was going to kill Foursquare. And before Facebook's email news was even announced, it was deemed a Gmail killer. But I thought email is already on life support? I refer to the killer, uh, overkill as The Highlander Complex."
It's a nice, neat way to wrap up news into a classic story format of protagonist vs. antagonist. But history shows us it doesn't work.
Shiny Crisis Communications
So I'll take a page out of crisis communications and tell you what I know and what I don't know. For a variety of reasons, I signed up. Simulated stock trading intrigues me for reasons completely unrelated to the murky stew of influence, brands and popularity. And before I lay into the Evil Empire/Star Wars or Electric Avenue/Eddy Grant jokes, (as hard as it is to resist) I'm going to wade through a few posts I've curated while experiencing Empire Avenue myself. Then I'll decide what the ultimate value of using the site might be. I'm focused on the personal value to the individual users and to brands.
If you haven't signed up for Empire Avenue, you don't have to do so. Or you can do so here. But you don't have to know if it rules or drools -- not until Monday when all the kids show off their Easter haul during homeroom.