Two examples from around my area today: the first, wrexham.com, is definitely a local site, though with ambitions – and perhaps a right, in the light of what it has achieved – to be considered something more:
We have had our content syndicated worldwide, with articles and pictures used in as diverse publications from Haaretz to the Daily Mail. What is pleasing is we often see Wrexham.com stuff appear in print & online days and even months after we cover it – sometimes credited! We have had our stories end up as frontpage news for local papers such as the Leader & Daily Post.
It loads far more cleanly than mainstream local newspapers such as the Chester Chronicle – the weight of adverts, and maybe the need for advertising too, clearly far less imperious in the former case than the latter.
It’s a good and fairly traditional (ie it works!) combination of clear webdesign; sensible and informative aggregation of socially networked content from Twitter and Facebook; and self-made output from the most effective of sources:
Its business structure, meanwhile, is limited company.
Whilst wrexham.com is covering quite a large area – and obviously looks to compete with mainstream outlets which, through higher business overheads, struggle to maintain their undoubted strengths – our next site, notting-hoole.co.uk, aims (at least for the moment) not just for the hyperlocal segment of the communication market but perhaps for what we might even term “hyper hyperlocal”.
I was recently at an extremely well-attended launch event for the site where it’s clear they’ve achieved the most important factor for hyperlocal to operate successfully: user, resident and business engagement.
The desire for the site to go beyond a beautifully designed PC- and mobile-friendly white- and bulletin-board for the suburb of Hoole doesn’t seem quite manifest at the moment, but the opportunities clearly exist. You don’t set up such a grand platform of tech to limit yourself to just informing the community of events you’re planning or would like to propose yourself. There comes a moment when the idea of intervening in the outside world of other forces must become irresistible.
I may be wrong, but dipping into the waters of a community journalism such as that which wrexham.com advocates would surely also be a constructive step at some time in the future for the “Hooligans”.
What’s clear from what I saw is that the people who run notting-hoole.co.uk are completely comfortable with iPads, smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of intelligently packaged technologies. And who is to say their hyper hyperlocal doesn’t become more ambitious – in geography as well as in discourse – at some point in the next six or twelve months?
The truth is that communication is addictive: once you try it and it works for you, once you learn how to connect with people, you want more of it.
That’s the social side of human beings coming naturally – and hopefully – to the fore.
Who said there was no such thing as society? Hyperlocal is demonstrating how it’s returned – and with a gentle vengeance too!
Good stuff …