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.