Social networks are restoring to us what television stole from us: relationships and community. Ever since people started sitting connected to the “boob tube” they became disconnected from other people.
In generations before mine, neighbors knew each other. They talked – really talked – over the adjoining fences or at community picnics or at their local gathering spots.
Their restaurants did not have televisions so people at adjoining tables chatted with each other. There was nothing to keep people indoors staring at a box for hours on end so they went out and met each other and did things together.
Then came social media. From the comfort of our little boxes –
the kind we live and work in and the kind we carry around
and sit in front of – we started talking again.
We talked to total strangers. We talked to people around the world and eventually we started seeking out and talking to others with similar interests – including LOCAL interests.
Social networks are restoring to us what television stole from us >
the ability to communicate with each other.
Once we make that connection, many then meet
in real life and community is born.
We bloggers and the readers of blogs who get up the courage to comment can speed this healing process.Here are some things YOU can do that will create communities where you live:
- We can provide group blogs with content specific to a geographic area – usually a major metro or in smaller countries and states for that country or state.
- Seek out and spread the word about any local communities that already exist. Share them in your social accounts and tell your friends, family, co-workers. INVITE others – actually SAY “you are invited…you are WELCOME…please join us.”
- Be a regular participant in the best local spot for your area. That could be a blog or a forum or a live Meetup group. It may mean starting one if none exist today.
This is NOT that hard to do. There ARE many experienced bloggers who can handle the technical aspects of setting up an online meeting place.
I personally strongly recommend blogs instead of forums because
it is far easier to learn to leave a comment and to read through and
enjoy the other comments than it is to find anything in a forum.
LOCAL is THE Solution to Our Economic Challenges!
LOCAL is where the money is for social media influencers and bloggers – because when you can deliver a local audience it makes sense for the local businesses who have few ways to reach out to their potential customers to:
- Advertise in their local blog
- Be featured in interviews and reviews
- Interact with their customers and turn them into fans
- Hire you to do Twitter chats and other social networking campaigns
Even experienced bloggers are having a difficult time picturing how this can work, so I offer these examples of quality sites with a local emphasis:
- The Ashbury Park Press NJ @AsburyParkPress ~ example of one of the local sites created by Gannett Company, Inc., a publicly traded media holding company and newspaper publisher best known for publishing USAToday.
- Pittsburgh PA Post Gazette @PittsburghPG @PG_AudienceHelp ~ Social Media savvy local newspaper owned by privately held Blade Communications based out of Toledo, Ohio. Independent newspapers ARE still viable, but they need a new business model that integrates online and off that features local small businesses and together they will both be kept viable. That plus wise use of social media will make papers like this one leaders again.
- Nuvo.net is billed as “Indy’s Alternative Voice” @nuvo_net ~ Owned by the local free classifieds publisher Nuvo, Inc. who claim they are “Indiana’s largest independent alternative news organization”.
- Lafayette Online @lafayetteonline ~ way ahead of their time and now drifting because the founder was hired away because of what she accomplished there. This site DESERVES to be made “the” place for Lafayette starting with having a local sponsor to replace that AdSense block!
- Around Dripping Springs @AroundDP ~ well laid out source of exceptional LOCAL content for the Dripping Springs, Driftwood and Henly, Texas communities. Note how they feature local businesses.
- Santa Cruz Construction Guild ~ Instead of being about anything for Santa Cruz, this site targets the Home Improvement Niche and allows the public in areas surrounding Santa Cruz, California to find local contractors and see who other contractors recommend.
Home Improvement is a HUGE niche that encompasses an enormous number of small businesses and service providers that is of interest to a large percentage of the overall population.
Other sub-niches for creating a strong local blog are:
- Family Friendly (restaurants, places to go, events) ~ See this Kids Eat Free in Cranberry, PA page created to feature local places that provide discounts for children.
- Entertainment (movie reviews, local musicians and the venues where they play, restaurants)
- Automobiles (anything related to cars from Classic collectors to getting your car fixed to where to buy parts)
- Local coupons and deals ~ instead of being one of a thousand commoditized coupon or deal blogs add a local component or do entirely what can be redeemed locally. Then solicit deals from local restaurants, grocery stores, retailers – there is no limit to what kind of deals you can encourage especially after you grow a large local audience!
Big brands and online businesses have many inexpensive ways to reach their potential buyers, but your local community small businesses do not. The typical social media and Internet audience is too broad so there is insufficient ROI for them to use them.
If they are going to survive and benefit the people living near you they need OUR assistance – they need us to provide the right audience and to take a little time to write reviews.
When you create a local audience you benefit everyone in your community AND
provide a healthy way to make your own living and provide jobs for others.
There are huge social implications to creating communities – first online and then taking them into the real world. I encourage everyone to reach out. It doesn’t matter if you are a blogger or a reader.
Make the effort to connect with others as the first step towards restoring the communities that will make a different in our lives. For bloggers I offer this resource that includes tips on how to write compelling local content and how to promote it:
I encourage you to ask your questions in this blog post to connect with me for additional tips and assistance. (No obligation – no commitment and I am NOT trying to sell you anything except a vision.)
Supporting each other should be something we do because it is the right thing to do – not because we expect to be paid for it!
Wonderful advice! I have been wanting to get a more steady, loyal readership and after reading how easy it would be to feature local businesses and events I’m ready. I know that I am searching online for things for my family to do all the time so I know other families are too and I’d love to be the place they think of first to find local events.
I know the light bulb went on for you right away because you yourself are always looking for where to eat out with your family or what’s happening where you live. Your local area is fortunate to have a blogger ready to start providing information they can all use and a place where they can “meet” online.
As the writer of a parenting blog, I’ve found adding the area where I live on my About page and Media page to be helpful. It has brought me work opportunities, event invites and a way to connect with other bloggers. When I write about local businesses or events, I use a hashtag with the location.
Do you have any other suggestions for me?
Absolutely! Be sure to read that post I linked about how to geo-target your Twitter account. You can either use your primary Twitter account or create an account with a username specific to the location you’re targeting. Then seek out and find as many people in that location as possible to follow and Interact with – and create a list for them and name it something with the geographic area in the name.
Also see the tips in that post on how to optimize your content to appeal to local readers. Don’t miss the link to Donna’s post. Donna Anderson was writing for Examiner.com at the time wrote an exceptional guest post for me that has excellent ideas for making your local content compelling.
Bloggers can use tags or create categories specific to their local content. I’m glad you commented because it has been a hard sell getting bloggers to really understand why LOCAL is where the money is because local businesses have few other ways to reach that audience.
Do be sure to create pages for specific topics – like the page Alaina created for Kids Eat Free – and link those posts to that page and that page to the other related posts. That makes it easier for your readers to find that information and also for search engines to see what page is important (the main page that links to the posts) and rank that one higher.
Bloggers are usually concerned that it will take something away from their international appeal but I don’t believe that it does because people are naturally curious about other places and other people. Travel magazines and blogs are popular even with those who have no intention of traveling. On top of that, many of our readers are other bloggers looking for ideas – and local content is one of the best blogging ideas ever.
Excellent post, Gail. Your post highlights concerns and provides us with hope, through action steps that we can actually take! Good to know that the human aspect doesn’t have to be lost in the online social media realm. Thanks!
I was surprised when I realized that social media was actually making us MORE likely to be social offline than we were before. There have never been any people like me living close to me that I have ever found, but on the Internet I can find them usually far away.
Eventually I hope that we will create a community where we work together toward common goals the way we do online now.