Reciprocity, Engagement and Value in Social Networks
Yes, another post about Empire Avenue – but only because it presents such an interesting little laboratory to examine the valuation of social media activity.
In this week’s leader-board analysis, I noted that some of the leading brands in EA were not making purchases in their investors or other EA players. This lack of reciprocation seemed antithetic to something the social sciences have clearly shown to be a powerful norm in most cultures; a drive to return or repay what another has provided.
Unsurprisingly, this social norm translates nicely into most social media practice. Social media interactions should be based on perceived mutual value or shared interest, so while social media engagement does not require 1:1 exchanges (of follow for follow for example) when there is no perceived value in the connection – reciprocation is nevertheless a very good strategy when first building a network as these brands are doing in Empire Avenue. Additionally, while no one should feel compelled to connect with (or invest in) network members who don’t add value, it would still be expected that there are some valuable connections in the network – so there would be some level of reciprocity. Several of the leading brands seem to see little or no value in making or returning most/any EA connections.
The same is not true for the leading individuals in EA. The leader for several weeks – JOSH – has more investments in EA than there are investments in himself. Most of the other leaders reciprocate with the network (note 1:1 reciprocation ration unknown) at above 50%. (CLATKO, with the lowest level of reciprocation announces on his profile that he no longer automatically reciprocates buys, and is pruning his profile by dividends.)
The leading individuals are also distinguished from leading brands through their level of engagement within the EA network. Each leading individual takes a large number of Empire Avenue actions per week, while three of the six leading brands take little to no action within the network.
Clearly, the leading brands’ share-prices were driven by the “brand-value/goodwill” they carried with them into the game, allowing them to achieve leadership status with little reciprocation or engagement, while the leading individuals clearly use reciprocation and engagement to create and maintain their value.
It will be interesting to watch what happens to the brands that do not reciprocate with or engage the network – I predict that at a minimum they will not grow like their more active counterparts.
What are your strategies/perspectives on reciprocation and engagement in social media, whether in the Empire Avenue game, or in interacting with your favorite networks in general?
Its precisely the act of give and take that makes a difference in Empire Avenue, social media and life. Who are the people succeeding in small business and social media? Who are the top brands on Facebook? Who is taking an ordinary idea and becoming the next extraordinary person using social media? all of it is relevant to reciprocity. No one will get far without opening the channels to meet, discuss, share, engage and give.
Relevant to Empire Ave, you can’t buy back everyone and even if you do, you can’t hold on to them forever without some valuable reason. Maybe that value is not about equal number of shares owned between two people but could be valuable because of daily Twitter conversation or Facebook activity. Not engaging and diving into what EA is about, brands will quickly learn “The JFONDA effect.”
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