Create Social Media Buzz with Empire Avenue
Empire Avenue has always been an excellent tool for monitoring your social media and online activity, and networking with more people. While the gamification of social media and influence scores will continue to be discussed and debated, services like Empire Avenue or Klout, if used correctly, can be extremely valuable to businesses.
Of even greater value though is a powerful tool within Empire Avenue called Missions. Added last year, missions are activities that Empire Avenue users can set up where other users are asked to do something and receive in-game currency (eaves) as a reward. Using missions, you can jump-start your social media activity, and I'm going to tell you how.
Creating Empire Avenue Missions
For the purposes of this post, let's assume that you already have an Empire Avenue account and some eaves to spend. I will also review some great options for missions in a moment, but let us also assume that you've decided to ask users to visit and share your latest blog post to their own social networks.
Log into EA (http://www.empireavenue.com) and click on the Missions tab. Your first view will be other missions that members have created. I do recommend checking these regularly as they are a source of more eaves for you, ideas for other missions, and an important part of the game. You can also click on Dashboard to see any previous missions you've created, but click on Create Mission for now.
The Create Mission form is comprised of Title, Mission Type, Detailed Description, Reward, Requirements and Promote.
As suggested in the field, your Title needs to be compelling. I recommend including what you want them to do along with what you're going to give them. More on that in a moment.
For Mission Type, your choices are Visit a URL or YouTube Likes / Subscriptions. For most missions you will be sending members to another URL, but the YouTube options are nice. When you provide a link to your YouTube video or channel, Empire Avenue will display it within the site and require that they watch the video or subscribe to your channel before collecting the reward.
In the Description field, you can go into greater detail about your mission and what you want them to do for you.
The Requirements section is nice because you can limit who is eligible to do your mission. For most social media missions, you're likely going to want Anybody to do them, but you can choose Shareholders or Not, Minimum shares owned, community membership or even Country.
Currently, the only Reward that you can offer is Eaves. You will determine how many eaves to pay out, and how many payouts you wish to give. This will determine your mission budget. Offering 10 rewards of 5000 eaves each will set a mission reward budget of 50,000. Empire Avenue will charge a fee equal to your reward budget so your total mission cost in this example would be 100,000.
Finally, there's a Promotion section where you can decide whether or not you wish to send a message to your shareholders to let them know about the mission. Anyone can view available missions in the Missions area, but notifying shareholders is a great way to get eyes on your mission quickly. It does, however, come at a cost of additional eaves for each shareholder, and the rate goes up the more often you send such messages.
Once you have made your choices, click on Save & Preview and you will see what your mission looks like. You can make sure everything is spelled correctly, that you have the right reward values, and even test your link.
Empire Avenue Mission Best Practices
Before we get into some specific ideas for missions, there are few tips and recommendations I want to share with you.
- Be clear and concise in your title what your mission task is and include the reward value.
- Try to keep your description brief and to the point.
- Include some information about where you're sending them, what the link is about, particularly if it is a controversial subject.
- Include the link within the description as well as the link field.
- If you have other missions that haven't been completed yet, include a link to those missions within the description.
- Be specific with your mission task. Instead of simply asking someone to check out your latest blog post, ask them to make a comment or share it.
- Make sure that your reward matches the request. The more time you want someone to invest, the more you're going to have to offer. Also, the more you offer, the faster the mission will get completed, so if it's something you need done quickly, be prepared to offer a premium.
- Remind people to Like the mission. It is an in-game activity and such actions are counted by EA.
- Use Shareholder Messages sparingly, since they can get so expensive. It's actually cheaper to increase the value of your rewards a little bit and entice more people viewing the general missions thread.
Empire Avenue Mission Ideas
Now, what are some of the most effective missions? You will see a lot of ideas as you peruse everyone else's missions. If your stock price is struggling you can pay others to invest in you, improving your share value and encouraging even more people to invest in you. That's great for in-game success, but I like to use Empire Avenue to jump start social media buzz.
Each time I post a new blog entry or article, I share it to my social networks. But it sometimes takes time for my own followers to get online and notice something new from me, so I use Empire Avenue to spread the word.
If you're posting to multiple networks, first pick the one you want to target. Generally, this should be the network where you expect to have the most impact with this specific post, whether it's Facebook or Twitter or Google+. Then, grab the URL for that specific post and use that as the mission URL. The mission task must be to share or ReTweet the post. If it's a tweet, you will get a lot of Favorites as well as new followers if they haven't followed you before. If it is a Facebook or Google+ post, I always mention that Likes/+1's and Comments are welcome.
I do not recommend trying such a mission with LinkedIn due it's poor viral nature. Individual status updates just aren't seen by that many other people.
If you post frequently, you can do one of these missions for each post and switch networks occasionally to achieve a mix of audience. Or, if you post just once a week or so, you might run several missions for the same post.
You must try different missions with different blog posts to see what works best for you and your audience. Personally, I have found that Twitter works best for news-related stories. Facebook works great for topics and stories that affect individuals, while Google+ is fantastic for instruction and discussion points.
Overall, Google+ has by far been the most successful platform for getting results from this kind of mission. I typically create just 10 Google+ Sharing payouts for a new mission, and those ten shares help kick-off dozens and dozens of shares and +1's and comments. A new blog post and share to Google+ on a Saturday garnered over 45 shares, over 165 +1's, and over 40 comments as of this writing. This generated hundreds of visits to the blog post itself, over just two days.
Not every blog you write and mission you run will get the same results, which is why you need to test different missions, as well as utilize other blog traffic and promotion tools like Triberr. And if you're not promoting a specific blog post, there are some other missions you can run to help your business:
1. Gain Followers
An easy mission to run is to simply ask people to follow you on a specific social network. The most commonly asked are Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. These kinds of missions do not require much effort and therefore can use small rewards and a lot of payouts. This is a excellent way to quickly ramp up a new Twitter account, or get that new Facebook Page up past 25 likes.
2. Blog Comments and Shares
If you struggle to get people commenting on your blog, jump start the conversation by asking your Empire Avenue friends to comment. Many of the comments will likely be of the "nice post" variety, but some members do take the time to read and craft a thoughtful comment. Ether way it's activity that will make your normal readers feel more comfortable posting their own thoughts.
You can also ask members to share your blog to their networks, using whatever social network buttons to offer or prefer. This is a nice way to get your blog shared to some of the other networks like Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit, but it will cost you more and be less immediately gratifying. You can instantly see shares on Google+ from your original post, but if I go to your blog and digg it, you won't likely know.
3. Blog Writing
A brilliant idea that I saw executed recently by Reg Saddler was asking members to write a blog post of their own on a specific topic. In this case, it was a review of a specific product and the issue it solves, "privacy while using a public WiFi network." The mission paid a hefty amount (50,000), and provided background information and a reference post. The mission owner also provided additional promotions to myself (and presumably others) who wrote exceptional posts.
So, in short, this is an expensive way to go, but imagine the publicity you could get for your brand! In one week, you could have 50 different blog posts on 50 different sites all talking about and linking to your product or service. This not only the most expensive, but also the most complicated of mission options since you're going to have to provide a blog topic that people would be comfortable writing about. If it is highly technical or too industry-specific, it will prove too challenging.
If you aren't already an avid Empire Avenue user, I hope this has inspired you to give it a whirl. Running missions takes eaves, so it requires a certain degree of success within the game (you can buy eaves with real money, but that's not necessary). If you need help formaulating a strategy for EA success, let me know. And please share some of your mission success stories!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."