Everyone wants to know who has the most social influence, but so far, there hasn’t been a good way to measure it. The number of friends you have on Facebook or Twitter is only a partial measure.

So a Canadian startup is launching the world’s first fantasy stock market that measures your social influence. Empire Avenue‘s The People’s Market will let users buy and sell shares in each other, allowing a person’s social influence to be measured via market forces.

“Online, every writer, blogger, photographer or Twitterer has influence, but nobody has been able to answer the question, ‘What’s my influence worth?’ until now. We want everyone to realize just how valuable that influence is,” said Duleepa Wijayawardhana (pictured below), chief executive of Empire Avenue.

The idea sounds a lot like Friends for Sale!, the Facebook social game launched by Serious Business. But it’s easier to game the system in Friends for Sale!, which hurts its credibility as a true ratings system for social influence. Other rivals include GetGlue and Klout, but none of them offer an ad platform.

Empire Avenue also offers more measures of social influence than Friends for Sale!, including how often you post to web sites, social networks, and blogs. Shareholders who have bought your stock can rate your posts based on quality. The net result of the stock trading and other measurements is your “influence score.” The more your influence rises, the more currency points you earn for your shareholders.

You can earn your own virtual currency based on your social influence. And Empire Avenue will let you insert ads into your social sites, allowing you to earn real money from your popularity on The People’s Market. All you do is choose to join the company’s advertising platform. The ad rates are determined by influence-driven stock prices. Influencers can display the ads wherever they want — on web sites, sponsored social-media messages, or just on their own Empire Avenue profile.

The good thing is that Empire Avenue does not require you to join and participate in yet another social network. You can keep doing what you normally do. The service measures your influence even if you don’t spend much time on Empire Avenue’s site.

“We just encourage people to be active all over the web,” Wijayawardhana said.

The Edmonton, Canada-based company has launched a closed beta test and will expand the test gradually in the coming weeks and launch fully in the summer of 2010. Advertising will be phased in over time.

The company was founded in October, 2009, and has five employees and another six volunteers. It’s self-funded. The founders came from BioWare, the game development company that is now a division of Electronic Arts.

The first 50 people to send an email to venturebeat@empireavenue.com will get into the closed beta test.

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