Yearly Archives: 2007

Online recommendations taking off

Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2007 by No comments yet

Greg Sterling writes about online reviews today… lots of good stuff.

Adding to the mounting evidence that online reviews are now critical for both consumers and businesses, comScore and the Kelsey Group released online survey data (n=2,090) last week showing that 24% of consumer-respondents used online reviews in the context of looking for a local service business (during the preceding three-months)…

PQ Media issued a new report that estimated “word-of-mouth marketing” has become a $981 billion business. In addition, the report says that among consumers surveyed, 80% rely on friends and family for recommendations. This phenomenon is now moving quickly online… [lots more]

Taken together, these data all show how significant online reviews are becoming – as an extension of traditional “word of mouth” – for both consumers and local businesses. As the stakes get higher, which all these data suggest they will, the risk is that there’s more gaming and manipulation of reviews. Note that 30% (of the 24%) in the comScore data wrote reviews because they were asked to do so. (And see my recap of the SMX panel on user review content.)

Reviews and recommendations are a large part of the Front Porch Forum postings.  Most arrive upon request from a neighbor.

Dryer’s Ice Cream Survey: Neighbors less neighborly than they used to be

Posted on Sunday, December 2, 2007 by 1 comment

Dryer’s Ice Cream commissioned a phone survey of 1,000 U.S. homes in 2005 as part of a promotion tied to neighborhoods…

More than half of Americans (55%) believe they are less familiar with their neighbors today than their parents were with their neighbors a generation ago. And, according to a recent survey, our hectic schedules are to blame. In this fast-paced world of instant worldwide communications, it’s ironic that sometimes the hardest connections to make are with folks just across the street.

Dreyer’s Slow Churned Ice Cream asked Americans across the country how well they knew their
neighbors. Here’s the scoop:

  • Three out of ten Americans (27%) don’t know their neighbors first and last names;
  • Six in ten Americans (59%) who aren’t friendly with their neighbors say it’s because they’re just too busy to create meaningful relationships;
  • Fewer than half of Americans (48%) have borrowed something, like a cup of sugar, from one of their neighbors

Research and community experts say that on average, students perform better, people live longer, and
crime rates are lower when people who live in the same community have a basic familiarity with each

Pattie tells a good community-building story around this information.

Who powers Silicon Valley? Older Midwestern Women clicking on Sweepstakes Ads

Posted on Sunday, December 2, 2007 by No comments yet

Danah Boyd asks… who clicks on web ads?  Part of her answer…

Over the summer, Dave Morgan (AOL Global Advertising Strategy) blogged about a study that they did to investigate who clicks on ads:

What did we learn? A lot. We learned that most people do not click on ads, and those that do are by no means representative of Web users at large.Ninety-nine percent of Web users do not click on ads on a monthly basis. Of the 1% that do, most only click once a month. Less than two tenths of one percent click more often. That tiny percentage makes up the vast majority of banner ad clicks.

Who are these “heavy clickers”? They are predominantly female, indexing at a rate almost double the male population. They are older. They are predominantly Midwesterners, with some concentrations in Mid-Atlantic States and in New England. What kinds of content do they like to view when they are on the Web? Not surprisingly, they look at sweepstakes far more than any other kind of content. Yes, these are the same people that tend to open direct mail and love to talk to telemarketers.

Every neighborhood needs a meeting place

Posted on Saturday, December 1, 2007 by 1 comment

Jean in Williston offered this to her neighbors via Front Porch Forum today…

Today is World AIDS Day and since my brother died of complications from AIDS in 1994 I am doing whatever I can to prevent others from catching it. I think honesty is the best policy and secrets make people sick. A more honest and caring society will keep us all healthier. That is why I’ve joined the cohousing movement where neighbors are encouraged to know and care for each other.

Every neighborhood in Williston could be a cohousing village if each neighborhood had a place specifically designated as a meeting place – just like the New England commons and meeting houses of our past. Does anyone know of a good meeting place in the Lawnwood neighborhood where we could all meet each other in real life? Thank you Marti for offering the public library, but it is not located in our Lawnwood neighborhood. Is there a meeting place at the new fire station?

Pinecrest Village has a pool house I could reserve for our first meeting. I was hoping I could persuade the developer to build a meeting place within his development. Maybe there’s still time.

Hope to meet you all before my townhouse is sold and I have to move to Burlington even if the best meeting place for now is the public library.

New West… “great content and local authenticty”

Posted on Friday, November 30, 2007 by No comments yet

John Kelsey writes today…

In 2005, Jonathan Weber launched New West Publishing, an online independent local media company designed to serve the “culture, economy, politics, environment and life style of the Rocky Mountain West.” Today is structured as a regional publication that also focuses in on seven local markets. He reiterated… the difficulty of selling local online advertising. Success requires patience and persistence, the blocking and tackling of the online local media business. At the same time, you need talented players and a good strategy. These could be described as great content and local authenticity.

What I find most refreshing about New West is that Weber resisted the forces encouraging him to replicate his platform in other markets (New South, New China, etc.). Unlike most other entrepreneurs in the city guide and free DA business, Weber said, let’s do this right in one market area and then, and only then, consider expansion.

Great content and local authenticity… that’s a winner. And that combination appears to be in short supply.

Yahoo’s Neighbors

Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2007 by No comments yet

Greg Sterling writes today about Yahoo’s new trial service called Neighbors…

Yahoo! has introduced a very interesting new feature on Local: Neighbors. A new tab will appear, “Neighbors,” that offers a community discussion area and organizing tool…

Lessons from the Graveyard

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by No comments yet

Andy Sack, former CEO of Judy’s Book, shared some lessons learned this week on his blog…

The first mistake: we weren’t aggressive enough in customer acquisition…

The second mistake: we expanded out of Seattle in August 2005 and went national… Ultimately, this decision prevented us from focusing on the customer acquisition problem I mentioned above as well as other improvements that would have made our product more sticky and compelling…

Interesting insights for Front Porch Forum to consider as we look to expand beyond our initial community.

It’s a bit apples-to-oranges, but I wonder how Craiglist in San Francisco compared to Judy’s Book in Seattle before each decide to expand beyond their original city?  My sense is that Craigslist benefited from a much more solid homebase than Judy’s Book… but I don’t have any numbers to back that up.

iBrattleboro Sued for Libel

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by No comments yet

David Ardia’s post just alerted me to the fact that iBrattleboro is being sued for libel over something written in the comment section of their site.

RIP Enthusiast Group

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 by No comments yet

Steve Outing offers his “lessons learned” on  the just-dead Enthusiast Group (“experiment in grassroots media and social networking (as applied to niche sports)”).  Here’s one of his lessons that caught my eye…

If citizen-content-exclusive destination sites don’t make sense when it comes to hyperlocal content, what else can you do with user-submitted content? Another approach is to focus on micro-targeting the citizen submissions. I’m intrigued by websites like, which geo-tags local news and information and puts it on a map mash-up. Using a model like YourStreet’s, a news organization might create a map service that presents hyperlocal (geo-tagged) content on neighborhood maps.

While I live in Boulder, Colorado, I couldn’t care less about news from schools or community organizations serving neighborhoods across town. But I care a lot about anything to do with the school near my house that my daughter attends. I care about the announcement from the local fire station about staffing changes. So targeting that sort of news and information to me is a powerful service that a news company can provide. (Of course, I’d want the option to expand the range of micro-news and information that I view.)

If you can gather, slice and dice hyperlocal citizen news and information, think too about disseminating it outside of your own website. Create a customizable widget that a neighborhood blogger, say, can include on his site to offer his readers links to news and information pertinent to his neighborhood. That’ll drive traffic back to your website, or might include ads that you place within the widget. Win-win.

If a news website can filter the minutiae (from a wide variety of sources, internal and external to the news organization) that’s relevant to a specific online user, and present that in context with the professionally produced output of the news organization, then I think you’ve got something valuable.

Craigslist Simple and Effective

Posted on Monday, November 26, 2007 by No comments yet

Cameron Ferroni of Marchex wrote today about the special place Craigslist holds for him…

… it really boils down to the fact that the simplicity of the experience and the personal nature of the interactions make this stand head and shoulder above any other online service of its type. For those of us in the industry we would do well to take this to heart – and maybe, just maybe, spend less time worried about our slick UI, our SEO strategies, and our mapping technology, and spend more time worried about the specific value proposition for users.

Some of our members compare Front Porch Forum to Craigslist along these points… simple and extremely effective on a few fronts… period.  We get lots of interesting suggestions for new features and we’ve implemented some and will add others over time… but I’m excited to stay true to our initial premise of “simple and effective.”