eDeals Update: Saved homeowners $188k so far

Last June (2010) we launched a new money saving program for our Kansas City neighborhoods called eDeals. Through eDeals, neighbors agree to buy products and services in bulk allowing us to secure discounts from local merchants.

Since the beginning our goal has been to help residents save money on products and services, while at the same time, helping local merchants thrive.

I’m happy to report that we’ve already saved homeowners $188,101 and helped to generate $100,271 in revenue for local businesses.

To date, we’ve run 30 deals from local merchants such as:

  1. Sprinkler Blowout
  2. Lawn Fertilization
  3. Window Cleaning
  4. Furnace Tune-Up
  5. Dry Cleaning
  6. Restaurants
  7. Tree Trimming
  8. Mulch

If you’re a Kansas City merchant interested in offering an eDeal to our neighborhoods, please visit http://www.eneighbors.com/edeals/.

Here are some examples of our deals:

Learn more about eDeals at http://www.eneighbors.com/edeals/.

This is what it’s all about

From the beginning our vision has been to connect neighbors online to create stronger communities, so when I found the following comment it made my day:

“I’m so impressed with the effectiveness of the eNeighbors system, and the care and concern of our neighbors. Using technology to strengthen a community and to help neighbors is a good thing!” – Janet G.

(A screenshot of the full comment is below.)

Update: Our KC Neighborhoods

I received a request to publish a current list of neighborhoods in Kansas City that subscribe to eNeighbors.

The list below is for neighborhoods in the Kansas City metro area only (Kansas and Missouri). To see if your neighborhood is online, go to www.eNeighbors.com and search for your neighborhood by zip code. 

Amber Hills Estates
Arlington Park
Autumn Ridge
Berkshire
Birchwood
Bradford Gardens
Briarcliff Community Alliance
Briarcliff West
Brighton’s Landing
Cedar Creek
Cedar Ridge Park
Coffee Creek Crossing
Communities of North Brook
Coves
Coves North
Crimson Ridge
Deer Creek
Deerwalk
Eastbrooke
Falcon Valley
Fieldstone
Forest View
Grey Oaks
Hampton Place
Hawksbury
Highlands Ranch
Hills of Walden
Homestead Woods
LeaBrooke
Links at LionsGate
LionsGate
Maple Brook Park
Mills Farm
Newberry Commons
Northwood Trails
Nottingham by the Green
Nottingham Forest South
Oak Park Homes Association
Oaks Ridge Meadows
Oxford Pointe
Park Crossing
Parkhill Manor
Parkhurst
Ravenwood Place
Regency By The Lake
Riss Lake
River Ridge Farms
Santa Fe Hills
South Hampton
Staley Farms
Steeplechase
The Pavilions of Leawood
Tiffany Greens
Tuscany Reserve
Villas at Parkside
Villas of St. Andrews
Wakefield Estates
Wedgewood
Western Auto Lofts
Westwoods
WhiteHorse
Wilshire Farms
Windham Park
Windsor Hills
Woodland Creek
Woodland Reserve

Neighborhood Photo: New Favorite

Some neighborhoods just have unfair advantages – “Mt. Bonnell Shores / Colorado Crossing” in Austin, TX is one such neighborhood. Resident Carrell Grigsby was Austin’s PPA Photographer of the year in both 2004 and 2006 and snapped the shot below for their neighborhood website.

Mother and child playing in lake at sunset (C) Carrell Grigsby Photography

Below is a screenshot of the Mt. Bonnell Shores / Colorado Crossing sign in page where the above photo is featured:

View other cool neighborhood photos.

FCC: Local or community news second most common type of activity online

The FCC recently conducted a survey called “Broadband Adoption and Use in America” that found getting local or community news was the second most common type of activity online, just behind buying a product. Using a social networking site was fourth. (See chart below.)

Of course, I’m happy to see that “local or community” news is listed second but it’s hard to believe that using a social networking site is fourth given that Facebook now has over 350 million users and is listed as the second or third most visited site on the Internet. This seems to highlight the problem with human reported surveys versus computer counted statistics.

As a measure of online activity for local and community news though, this survey may be the best data we have given the fragmentation of local publishers, which makes it difficult to measure this type of activity on a national level.

Will the eNeighbors value proposition work in your community?

We claim that:

  • the vast majority of your community will register and use the online communication system on a regular basis.
  • you can communicate more effectively, virtually at will, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • your community will actually lower the cost of communication – the logical result of replacing current methods newsletter, layout, print, copy, mail

BUT, as a Board Member, your #1 concern is:  “WILL THE MAJORITY OF OUR RESIDENTS ACTUALLY READ THE INFORMATION?”

A resident in an eNeighbors community wondered the same thing and posted a news article to find out “is any body really out there?” Screenshots below:

Neighborhood Watch and Social Networking

From TechNewsWorld: Neighborhood Watch 2.0:

City budgets are straining police forces in many cities, and in some cases citizens have seized upon social networking technologies to help guard against crime in their own neighborhoods. It’s unclear whether neighborhood watch efforts actually make people safer, but statistics indicate that neighborhoods with high levels of resident cohesion typically have less crime.

This is another example of how better communication (or cohesion) in a neighborhood can help make it safer.

eNeighbors Traffic Reports vs User Feedback

I monitor the traffic reports for our website (eNeighbors.com) at least once a day and get caught up in the upticks and downturns in traffic. The data that we can track is really helpful like pageviews and visits, which gives me a measure of the health of our site, but it lacks the intangible perspective that you get from user feedback.

In the case of South Village, they have 318 registered users on the website from 287 homes. This is good to know, but what does it mean? Can they communicate with these residents effectively? How can we test this?

One way to test this is to simply ask your users, which is exactly what a communications committee member in South Village did. He simply posted an article to see if “anyone was out there”. (An ingenious and completely tangible way to track usage and response.) I posted a screenshot of the article with the comment string below so you can see. In total, he received 86 comments, which is pretty impressive considering that there are only 318 registered users on the website. Anyone who blogs knows that this is a tremendous response rate.

I think the response was awesome and it gave me a great feeling that their website was so frequented. The comments help to give better insight into our user’s attitude and feelings about eNeighbors that you cannot get from traffic data. The comments also solidify our feelings that our automatic email newsletter and other notifications are working to promote traffic and usage.

Some of my favorite comments include:

  1. I try to log onto eNeighbors at least once a day when I can, because I want to know what my fellow homeowners are discussing. I don’t always respond to postings, as I am just one Board member and don’t represent the views of the Board as a whole. What I do is try to find out what topics are generating high levels of interest among homeowners so that, if necessary, we can include these topics in future meeting agendas.
  2. we read weekly and sometimes more! love this!
  3. We read it regularly. Thanks for taking the time to do it.
  4. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. 🙂
  5. Yup, we read them as soon as something is posted..
  6. We’re tuned in. Thanks.
  7. Hello – I look at this quite a bit – especially since I get the alerts regularly.
  8. I read this site whenever the email informs me of new posting. I set my account to receive email daily from EN.
  9. I look up eneighbors every day when I am home (I was out last two days).
    I do read all the postings and the comments that follow and make notes on them, but usually do not make any comments. (Any comments I make are my own and do not represent the Board’s views). I do believe that all Board Members do read the postings on eneighbors.
  10. I read when I see new things that I want to hear more about. (Get the reminder weekly.)

 

Is there anyone out there?

Censorship and social media

In April I posted an article about content moderation, a feature of our website that allows a board member to review information posted by residents before it is published on the website. In it, I recommend that board members do not utilize this feature and allow residents to freely communicate, so long as no one is violating the Terms of Use or the law.

As a follow up to that post, I would like to provide board members with an alternative to content moderation in this post.

The video below is titled “How social media can make history” and it is 15 minutes and 48 seconds long. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, scroll forward to 12:27 into the video for the relevant part where Clay Shirky shares a story about MyBo.com, the social networking site that the Obama Campaign established during his campaign and how Barack Obama responded when the registered users of the site were not too happy with him about reversing his decision on the Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act. He didn’t shut the site down, he didn’t make it harder to register, he didn’t moderate the content. Instead, he simply told them why he decided what he did and let them use the service to talk about it. The speaker in the video concludes with this statement:

“They [the Obama Campaign] had understood that their role with myBo.com was to convene their supporters, but not to control their supporters. And that is the kind of discipline that it takes to make really mature use of this media.”

The alternative to moderation or censorship is to operate transparently and openly by communicating. Let your residents know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

A partial transcript is provided below between 12:27 and 14:30:

“We saw some of the most imaginative use of social media during the Obama campaign. And I don’t mean most imaginative use in politics. I mean most imaginative use ever. And one of the things Obama did, was they famously, the Obama campaign did, was they famously put up MyBarackObama.com, myBO.com. And millions of citizens rushed in to participate and to try and figure out how to help. An incredible conversation sprung up there. And then, this time last year, Obama announced that he was going to change his vote on FISA, The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He had said, in January, that he would not sign a bill that granted telecom immunity for possibly warrantless spying on American persons. By the summer, in the middle of the general campaign, he said, “I’ve thought about the issue more. I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to vote for this bill.” And many of his own supporters on his own site went very publicly berserk. It was Senator Obama when they created it. They changed the name later. Please get FISA right. Within a day so of this group being created it was the fastest growing group on myBO.com. Within weeks of its being created it was the largest group. Obama had to issue a press release. He had to issue a reply. And he said essentially, “I have considered the issue. I understand where you are coming from. But having considered it all, I’m still going to vote the way I’m going to vote. But I wanted to reach out to you and say, I understand that you disagree with me, and I’m going to take my lumps on this one.” This didn’t please anybody. But then a funny thing happened in the conversation. People in that group realized that Obama had never shut them down. Nobody in the Obama campaign had ever tried to hide the group or make it harder to join, to deny its existence, to delete it, to take it off the site. They had understood that their role with myBo.com was to convene their supporters, but not to control their supporters. And that is the kind of discipline that it takes to make really mature use of this media.”

Please comment with your thoughts below. What are the benefits of moderation? What are the costs? How do you operate your neighborhood website and why?

Gourmet Groups (I love email like this)

From Jason at Curry Association Management:

“Chris, my Wilshire Farms community has had tremendous success with their gourmet group.  So much so that they are wanting to break into 2…possibly 3 separate groups.

Is there a way to easily break one group into multiple groups?”

I have noticed that Gourmet Groups like the “Gourmet Gals” in Nottingham Forest South have taken off lately in several of our communities. If you haven’t started one in your neighborhood you may consider doing so.