Saturday, April 23, 2011

It Isn't A One Way Street

It was exciting.   When I heard from Frederic Denomme that Ford-- the huge car manufacturer-- had just listed itself on Empire Avenue,  I admit that I rushed over and bought a few shares.   And then I thought about it for a few minutes and  bought a few more and a few more and within a couple of hours I was maxed out with 200 shares in (e)FORD.   I also bought 200 shares in (e)INTEL-- another big name that suddenly appeared on the Avenue late last week.   As of this writing,  it's not clear what kind of dividends these huge companies will pay.    Given the .01 div per 1 share price ratio that most sophisticated Empire Avenue users apply when evaluating shares,  Ford would need to pay off about  .50/ per share to be a good value and I'm not at all sure they can do that.   At any rate I am thrilled with the enormous growth the stocks have quickly accomplished--  I'm up over 4,000e  between the two companies' stocks.

The problem that big companies run into on social networking is that they are very rarely prepared to enter into two way back and forth communication with other users.   Partly this is a question of resources--  if a company has 30,000   "friends" it would take not merely a full time employee but a full time department to remember their spouse's names,  inquire after their children and keep up a social chit chat.   Their real life (as opposed to EAv) shareholders would never stand for it.   But it also seems to me that the cost of genuine engagement is not what stops most companies.  Shannon Morgan  has talked about how challenging it is to get even the relatively small companies she is a consultant for  to understand that a blog is not just another place to distribute your press release.  So I do give executives like Ford's Scott Monty props for his presence on the Ave and for putting (e)FORD and (e)LINCOLN into the game.

I have to wonder, however,  how well  Monty and his Ford team can do in the one on one socializing that is the essence of Empire Avenue and which the most successful players on the Ave inevitably excel at.   It's not enough just to buy shares in your investors-- while Ford does appear to have bought into some of the  "big name"  (usually in other words "copy/paste") "social media experts",  they have not as yet thought to make an investment in (e)LIBDRONE,  although as I say I am maxed out in their shares.    It will be very interesting to see if major corporations can learn to play in this currently popular sandbox.   It's possible that they can.  However it is also possible that via investment or other means they will manage to pressure (e)DUPS (Empire Avenue founder and chief executive Duleepa Wijayawardhana) and the Empire Avenue team to make the game a bit friendlier to major sponsors,  rather than as at  present to the unusually sociable average Joe.   I will not even speculate as to how well Ford and the other major brands flocking to the Ave will fare.   But I am thrilled to have a front row seat to watch and find out.

4 comments:

Scott Monty said...

Thanks for your coverage of Ford - and for maxing out on our shares. We hope that we'll provide you some fun and value in the process.

Personally, I think that any brand, large or small, can benefit from Empire Avenue in a couple of ways. First is what you've indicated is necessary: a level of social interaction that's required (or at least that we require of ourselves at Ford) on other social networks.

The other is what makes Empire Avenue so appealing to me: the aggregation of all of our other social interactions across the other accounts we use. It means that even on days we don't necessarily have the time to show up, our ledger is still getting credited with activity. But ultimately, you're right about the need for regular interaction here; that's where the value lies.

As to working with (e)DUPS, we don't intend to apply "pressure" or other consideration. Just as we do with other major networks and service providers, we'll work together with the Empire Avenue team to co-create something that's right for Ford and for Empire Avenue users. We're all in this together, and we want to ensure we're providing value at whatever we do.

Scott Monty (e)SMONTY
Global Digital Communications
Ford Motor Company

Libdrone said...

Thanks so much for your response, Scott. Many of us are very excited to see Ford and other big companies show up on Empire Avenue, which until very recently felt a bit like an isolated backwater of social media junkies ;) I'm genuinely thrilled with the level of engagement I am seeing and hope that you and Ford will find Empire Avenue both as much fun and as genuinely useful as I have.

Domino Oracle said...

Yes, I think this will be very interesting to watch as well. I'm also a 200 shareholder in all three of (e)FORD, (e)AUDI and (e)LINCOLN (also Verizon Insider and Intel). But, just as with my investment in (e)SCBL if it eventually appears that there are better deals on offer (either financially or socially or both) I'm liable to sell. So, looking forward to seeing whether or not (e)FORD will go the way of (e)SEARS With Scott at the wheel, I suspect not.

Libdrone said...

Tom, I commented on Scott's blog that the arrival of these huge companies on the Avenue may mean that power players may need to re-consider some of the metrics they've been using and re-imagine what social relationships are with big companies. Do you think that most of the power crowd will continue on as before (particularly with regard to the .01/1 divs ratio?