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Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Success and Scale for Local Online Services

Recently, Peter Krasilovsky noted in The Local Onliner that Backfence.com is finding success with it’s “hyper-local” online newspapers (content supplied by local volunteers). Backfence attracted a $3M investment over the last year and now is operating in 13 communities. Further

Usage-wise, more than 10 percent of local residents in the site’s communities are logging on, and one percent are posting. “We don’t have as many posts as we’d like to have,” but the site has made real inroads in its communities, she says.

It’s a bit apples-to-oranges, but Front Porch Forum had 10% of Burlington, VT households on board within two months of launching… and for a tiny fraction of the investment. Our most successful neighborhoods have 80% of the households registered.

Also, on the issue of scale, The Local Onliner reports about Backfence…

One [lesson learned] is that a hyper-local site had better be scoped along hyper-local lines. “Arlington hasn’t done as well as Bethesda because it is a bigger area,” notes DeFife. “Arlington is actually (four) communities – Clarendon, Ballston, and North and South Arlington. It shows us what (is likely to) happen when we go into counties,” and that it important to keep the hyper-local focus.

If that’s “hyper-local” then I’m not sure how to describe Front Porch Forum’s target scale… micro-local?

Regardless, I’m fascinated to see the variety of approaches. Different strategies will work in different places.

Posted in: Front Porch Forum, Local Online


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