TownKings: Location-based social networking

TownKings is an interesting concept. (TownQueens is the sister site for women.) They both look like they’re geared toward dating, but they also attempt to connect you to local parties and information about your friends.

My only concern with sites like TownKings and FatDoor is privacy.

I’ve registered on the site to test it out. Feel free to send me a friend request. You can find me by my username, cstock. So far, I’m the only guy who’s joined in my area.

Mosh, Yahoo’s new social network?

TechCrunch is reporting that Yahoo! is working on a new social network called “Mosh”. I actually like the name. I assume that it makes reference to moshing.

It’ll be interesting to see if they tie local into the mix. Right now, there isn’t any information to suggest that they are, but local and social is a big focus for them this year. Or at least it was before Terry left.

Email Etiquette

Reply All and Other Email Gaffes” is a good article for anyone who sends email. I send an average of 50 emails per day and I see all the mistakes that people make when emailing. (Don’t tell anyone, but I even learned a few things myself from this article.)

I would highly recommend this for our board members or other neighborhood leaders who have to deal with community feedback and other email that is public. Often times, as a board member, you have to handle upset or even irate residents that aren’t so kind on email. My advice is to keep your cool, even when they aren’t. It’s so easy to read emotion into an email and want to respond or “flame” that person back. But when you do, it always turns into a bad situation. The article says it best, “e-mail is not the place to make negative comments.”

The only thing in the article that I disagree with is the “Poor editing” rule. Typo’s are a way of life online. Everything is published so quickly, and the message is rarely lost because of a misspelling or two. I’ve emailed with CEO’s who refuse to use capital letters in their email. (Not sure how that’s possible when Outlook automatically does it for you in most cases. Maybe they’re not using Outlook.) On the other hand, when you’re applying for a job or want to leave an impression, you might just give that email another look.

Goodbye Backfence

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.

eNeighbors Suggestion Box

Below are a few of the suggestions that we’ve received from our users in the last couple of weeks. If you want to add your 2 cents, feel free to make a note in the comments at the end of the blog. I also created a new email address specifically for suggestions. So, if you have a suggestion you can email us at suggestions [at] eneighbors [dot] com. (Note: These are unedited, but excerpted.)

Suggestion: Add number of comments to top of news articles

“Add this to my wish list for eNeighbors design enhancements.  The ‘News’ feature, as noted, has a lot of potential as an interactive discussion forum.  As such, this is a valuable community building feature. Unfortunately when you look at the list of news topics, there is no immediate way to see if there have been NEW comments without clicking to open the news item.”

Suggestion: Increase character limitation on comments

“Don’t like the fact that I have only 500 characters to respond to postings.  Not near enough to promote discussion.”

Suggestion: Increase the photo size for classifieds

“Is there some way I can get a larger, proportional image? If not, is there any way people can post useful images in a space like that or do you find that size works for most needs? I see bigger ones in the News demo on your site?

Suggestion: Include property manager in bulletin distribution

“We would like to include our property manager on bulletin distributions through the Northbrook eneighbors website. This will keep him aware of what communication is being sent to homeowners so that he can be prepared to answer phones calls that come in regarding the bulletins. ”

Suggestion: View entire neighborhood directory online (or PDF download)

“Had a neighbor asking how to view the entire resident directory online.  i don’t see a way to do so.  perhaps another enhancement for a future version.  this way folks could print it if they’d like to.”

HOA Property Managers

We work with a dozen or so property management companies like Curry Association Management, The Neighborhood Group, and Centennial Management to help the HOAs that they manage communicate better by using our online tool.

One property manager explained to me that they have a hard time defining the benefits of eNeighbors to their new boards. If they’re running into trouble, you may be too. My recommendation is to (1) download our PDF brochure to hand out, (2) complete this form to send an email to your board, and/or (3) give me a call.

If you’re a property manager, and would like our help, just give me a call at 303-551-0652 or email me at chris [dot] stock [at] eneighbors [dot] com. I’ll be more than happy to walk you through any questions that you may have. If I’m in your area, I can also come out to do a presentation to your board.

Oh, by the way, the benefits of our service aren’t just for the HOA. Property managers benefit as well. It was explained to me that newsletters (especially classifieds) are one of the biggest consumptions of time for some property managers. With eNeighbors, you can tell residents to simply “go to the website” to post your classified or submit your news article.