eNeighbors Stats: 9/28 – 10/29

It’s been awhile since I provided some metrics on our usage and product adoption, so I thought I should give everyone a current snapshot of where we stand as we come up on the end of the year.

Overall, our numbers are still increasing, slowly but surely. We have signed up a bunch of new neighborhoods outside of our core customer base in Kansas City, so we are hoping for some viral effects to kick in outside of KC.

Traffic data:

71,715 page views
8,071 visits
4 minutes average visit duration

26 neighborhoods online

2,797 registered users at 2,628 unique addresses. We now have neighborhoods in Kansas, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, California, Texas and Arizona.

With 9,745 potential addresses in the neighborhoods that have signed up so far, we are at 27% adoption rate for our entire resident base.

The newsletter adoption rate is at 98% of our registered user base with only 34 residents (out of 2,797) opting out of receiving the email newsletter.

Total user-generated content since launch (about 7 months):

News posts: 552
Events: 260
Groups: 60
Classifieds: 496

Graphing Social Patterns

Next week in San Jose, there’s a great social networking conference going on. Graphing Social Patterns: The Business & Technology of Facebook is an event for both business and marketing folks as well as techies.

There is an all-star cast lined up to present too. The likes of Tim O’Reilly, Reid Hoffman, and Michael Arrington will all be there. Additionally, Charlene Li from Forrester will be presenting. Charlene’s white papers on social networking have been some of the best material on the subject this year.

So Much For Pleasing the People

One of my favorite magazines of all time, Business 2.0 is shutting down. I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning, and it’s one of two magazines that I honestly look forward to getting in the mail each month (the other being Wired) and actually read from cover to cover (there’s 4 of them sitting on my desk right now).

I did everything a single person can do to make a difference — I joined the Facebook group to save the magazine, I renewed my subscription for two years, I wrote the editor… but alas, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Details of the downward spiral and ultimate demise are covered in a great article by Mark Glaser, and TechCrunch has a shot of the final cover design.

R.I.P.

Behind the Curtain

Just wanted to drop a quick note to everyone. We are still here.

Sorry, the blog’s been a little inactive lately. We are working hard on some internal stuff right now here at eNeighbors that will hopefully bring all of our customers some great new stuff, and ultimately will provide an even better product for neighborhood communities.

Can’t say much more than that right now, but we should be back next week with more of the ususal insightful posts on the ever-changing online world of technology.

In the meantime, go pick up a new iPod Touch this weekend, yet another great product from one of my favorite companies.

Sidenote: I’m so glad I didn’t buy an iPhone yet — see $200 price drop. ouch!

Friends List: Face-to-Face or Virtual?

Information Week has an interesting article up titled “5 Keys To Social Networking Success” by Andrew Conry-Murray.

One of the five keys is that successful social networks should facilitate interaction among a close-knit, pre-existing circle of companions who have existing relationships. In other words, I should be able to find my friends on the site.

But there’s an exception to this rule…

“The exception to the friends characteristic are groups that coalesce around profound experiences, such as pregnancy and childbirth or a cancer diagnosis. These groups form expressly to connect with strangers who are sharing the same experience. However, other characteristics certainly apply.”

What I like about this is that eNeighbors is the perfect example for the exception rule. You probably don’t know every person that lives in your neighborhood, but you still share common interests, goals, and concerns.

The other great thing I like about Andrew’s explanation of the exception is that this common experience connects these previously disparate people. eNeighbors takes it a step further — you can literally connect with these people right outside your front door, face to face.

I know, it’s shocking to think of real, physical interaction with people in this ever-increasing online world. Maybe that’s the defining point of a “highly” successful social network. After all, that’s what MySpace started doing with band concerts.

eNeighbors & The Knight News Challenge

eNeighbors has applied to the Knight News Challenge in the “New Business Ventures” category. Our goal is to align with a funding resource that shares our vision and focus for neighborhood-level communication in actual geographical communities.

Additionally, we strive to achieve social responsibility in our business model as it directly affects communities and their residents. The Knight Foundation shares much of these same principles and beliefs. We believe in what the Knight Foundation is trying to achieve through this program and would love to be a part of it.

Last year, the Knight Foundation awarded funding to a diverse collection of 25 individuals, private and public entities, ranging from MIT to MTV. The Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community news experiments.

Visit the Knight Foundation to learn more.

Visit eNeighbors to learn how to get your neighborhood online.

Does Local Search Equal A Trillion Dollars?

How many times have you gone to Best Buy to buy a new camera/TV/computer/printer and were carrying a bunch of printouts of product reviews you got from researching online first?

More and more of us are now researching purchases “online” and then buying “offline” in our respective local communities. In fact, Yahoo just released a study that confirms this behavior, and even more specifically outlines how online advertising affects offline purchase behavior.

Greg Sterling, interestingly enough, calls this behavior “Local Search” by way of his definition:

“Local search is a process where users conduct research online but with the ultimate intention or result being an offline transaction. It’s about the Internet influencing real-world buying decisions.”

In my mind, this means that “local search” really means “local buying” due to the fact that these two actions are merely steps in the traditional commerce process. In other words, you aren’t going to search for a service or product outside of your geographical vicinity if you intend to buy it offline.

Here’s the other part of Greg’s post that got my attention:

The phrase, The Trillion Dollar Marketplace, comes from recent Jupiter and Forrester e-commerce/retail reports that predict the Internet will be influencing a trillion dollars of offline (local) spending by either 2010 or 2011.

Personally, I think this estimate is a bit overly optimistic (1999 flashback, anyone?), but the point is that we spend most of our buying dollars in the physical community in which we live. You can’t buy food out of state and have it shipped (I guess you could, but it wouldn’t be hot). Most of us still like to try our clothes on before purchasing, and there’s no denying the joy of instant gratification (or less hassle of returns) of picking up that shiny new gadget toy from your local electronics store today (rather than in 7-10 business days). And if I want any type of service or repair for my house or car, guess what, it’s going to be local.

More and more, it’s becoming important for online buying guides to provide very relevant and very accurate local retail guides. Innovations like alerts to local sales and special offers or service referrals from your in-town friends and family are going to become imperative for the bricks and mortar lot to compete for those dollars that are not spent in the online channel.

Will Newspapers Survive?

There’s an excellent article in this month’s Wired by Jeff Howe about the impact the internet is having on the newspaper industry. The story centers around Gannett and their efforts to thwart the decline that the entire news world is experiencing.

Having worked for the Kansas City Star at one point in my career, I can personally vouch for the ingrained behavior of the news publication process. The internet is definitely a disruptive technology, and this article paints a very insightful picture on what the news companies must face to continue to operate in the overly saturated information age.

Towards the middle of the article, some of the details of Gannet’s new approach are presented:

At the heart of the plan lie two Big Ideas that are sweeping through journalism circles nationwide: Involve the reader in every aspect of the process, and take a so-called hyperlocal approach to news coverage. In recent years, Gannett’s Cincinnati arm has gone from producing one metropolitan newspaper to producing 270 niche publications, including suburban papers, neighborhood Web sites, and regional magazines. The readers — their thoughts, their half-baked opinions, their kids’ Little League scores — are at the center of them all.

This is the exact same result we have seen with the eNeighbors service. People really do want to know about the stuff that’s just down the street. Yes, it doesn’t matter to anyone else (so there’s no profit in it for the newspapers), but the internet now allows us to focus on a much smaller demographic and still remain cost-effective.

The voice of the masses is definitely getting heard these days. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues or if we will eventually tire of the barrage of average talent and ultimately rely on the professionals for the information that matters most.

Local Content: Year 2017

There’s an interesting article from Online Journalism Review about how newspapers need to adapt to survive in the new web-centric news world.

How important is community-based media? Are the days of reading the paper over coffee and toast coming to an end with the aging of my parents’ generation?

Fast-forward ten years… picture this:

My seven year-old son is now seventeen. For breakfast, he pours a bowl of Lucky Charms and flips through his iPhone IMs, checks the weather and browses the programming schedule for the latest episodes in his friend’s local reality show (which is about to be picked up by MySpace Productions).

Next he checks to see which classes are “video-broadcast only” today so he can plan his Xbox gaming time accordingly. He also sees that the high-school football game tonight starts at 7pm, and the opposing team’s record is 6 and 2.

As he walks out the door, he calls back to me, “Dad, I just got a text from eNeighbors that the city council approved the proposal to build the Starbucks on that corner lot. Looks like your coffee addiction is going to be even harder to kick — ha, ha… see ya later.”

So I ask, what does true local content integration look like? It’s not about technology. Web-publishing has been around for over a decade. It’s about the right tools for the right people. And it’s about the right people believing in something bigger. Something new and not based on “what we’ve always done” in the past.

What will the true voice of local content sound/look/feel like?