So, you might have heard — Backfence.com is shutting its doors. As expected, the industry insiders (Greg Sterling, Peter Krasilovsky, etc.) have commented most eloquently. However, Perry Evans has posted my favorite analysis of the dilemma that was the ultimate demise of Backfence. He gives the best “when the rubber meets the road” commentary on why hyper-local may or may not work.
In reference to whether or not hyper-local destination sites can be created and survive, Evans states the following:
“I am constantly pleased by the insight I read from newspaper new media executives. Nothing I am saying hasn’t been said, debated and documented in the newspaper industry. Having said that, the gap between understanding and execution is one perplexing motherload of a gap.”
Additionally, American Journalism Review (AJR) takes quite a long look at the Backfence situation. Here’s my favorite part:
“What we’re struggling with, and every major paper is struggling with, is how to reach our audience on a granular level, in a way we’ve never reached them before.” — Jonathan Krim, WPNI.
So, nobody has figured out hyper-local yet. Everybody says it’s doomed and can’t be done. yet more and more companies keep trying. I love that the AJR article recognizes the Lawrence Journal-World as one of the few innovators that have been successful. The LJW was my news source for many a year when I was in school at Kansas University. The town of Lawrence is truly a remarkable anomaly in the middle of nowhere midwestern U.S.A.
Well folks, those of us here in Kansas must be on to something, because eNeighbors will do exactly what all the experts say can’t be done, and we aren’t doing it in San Fran or Philly or DC or Chicago.
First, we’ll build the online network that residents in the community will actually visit and populate with relevant “backyard” content. Next, we’ll build the ad network that will allow those residents to access local business and service provider information. Finally, the entire platform will give way to highly targeted, community-driven citizen journalism, political activism and the ultimate “grail” of all — offline human interaction.
Join us in our vision, and get your neighborhood online today.
One thought on “Goodbye Backfence”
It seems to me that few of the companies claiming to do “hyper-local” aren’t doing it. I define hyper-local as anything within a 2 mile radius of your residence or location. Backfence was centered around larger audiences like Arlington, VA.
Companies like eNeighbors, Front Porch Forum, and possibly even City Squares are more true to the hyper-local category.