3 common challenges of local blogging

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If you are involved with your community, and you have some free time, a hyper-local blog can provide a much-needed, dynamic source of information for your fellow residents. In short, hyper-local blogging is awesome. The concept can be appealing to potential bloggers trying to find a niche. If you don't know much about it, check out Matt McGee's great site about hyper-local blogging at http://www.hyperlocalblogger.com/.

Another excellent venue for reading up on hyper-local blogging is the Outside.In Blog which covers all things hyper-local. My favorite feature of the site is called Blogiology, in which the staff examines cities and their best hyper-local resources. So far, they have covered Miami, Richmond, Dallas, Phoenix, Durham, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Portland, Philadelphia, Buffalo, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Boston.

But even more important than individual bloggers, brands (yes, even big ones) can and should be exploring the benefits of hyper-local blogging. Being able to connect with existing and potential clients and consumers on the neighborhood level can build a trust-based relationship that is virtually unattainable elsewhere in traditional and even digital advertising.

Over the past year, brands and businesses have started to understand the impact that social media can have on their brand awareness and sentiment. Those who "get it" realize that making connections and championing (or rewarding) brand advocates have the potential to be far more efficient forms of advertising (for certain metrics) than traditional PR and search marketing.

In many cases, blogging and outreach shouldn't be considered advertising at all. On the contrary, this type of brand-building is little more than steering the conversation in the right direction. People out there are talking about you whether you know it or like it. Getting involved in those conversations is essential. Why not start at the grassroots level with hyper-local blogging?

A common complaint among would-be bloggers is that it's all been done. So rather than try to create a blog that is different enough or better than what is already out there, help your neighborhood (or town, or city, or whatever) by creating a resource for everyone in the community to share.

It's only fair to admit right off the bat that I'm not a hyper-local blogger myself. When I'm not wearing my SEO and social media marketing hat, I blog as LA Foodie, the primary writer for my Los Angeles food blog. In many ways, LA Foodie is similar to a hyper-local blog, and I frequently consult with smaller community-based sites for more information about the sandwich shops, burger joints, and burrito stands that I -- (burp) -- research. But I'm fascinated with the concept of hyper-local blogging, and I keep close tabs on how this newish blogging movement is developing. (Things are coming along nicely, in case you were wondering.)

Since the idea behind hyper-local blogging is to do more with less, the problems that face every blogger can become magnified for hyper-local bloggers. In the list that follows, I'll present three common problems, why they tend to be troublesome, and offer some potential suggestions for resolutions. But more than anything, I hope this article sparks a larger conversation about hyper-local blogging. So please, if you have additional suggestions or problems with resolutions that you have discovered, please post them in the comments section below.

I was originally inspired by a guest blogger, Mike Ramsey, on hyperlocalblogger.com with a post that he wrote about problems that hyper-local bloggers face. I didn't feel like the article went into nearly as much detail as I would have liked. Therefore, I'm hoping to continue the conversation here.

Additionally, hyper-local blogging is still a relatively untapped market. I hope this article inspires would-be bloggers to take the plunge, and I hope to see brands take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect with consumers.

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Comments

roosteri atfyi
roosteri atfyi March 25, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Great post think Local act Global you can deffinatly expand your local business. With the WWW being so large I definatly recomend starting local with sepecific niche.
thanks

Drew Hubbard
Drew Hubbard March 12, 2010 at 12:12 PM

@Riel: Thanks for all of your feedback. It's great to see a live and working version of the concepts that are covered at a high level in this piece.

Riel Roussopoulos
Riel Roussopoulos March 12, 2010 at 12:05 PM

To Warren's comment:

"brand ambassadors" are exactly what we promote in each of the 14 communities we currently serve.

We're actually moving to calling them "BUZZ AGENTS" as they buzz about local businesses, real estate and news.

Riel Roussopoulos
Riel Roussopoulos March 12, 2010 at 12:02 PM

We've been developing hyper local blogs here in Vancouver focused on local real estate and community news.

We showcase local merchants and artists and encourage others in the community to become local experts.

We've built our own multi domain platform to manage it, I'd love for you to check it out.

We're currently only in Vancouver, although would love to start expanding to other communities.

Here is a profile piece I just did on a local artists.
http://liveinstrathcona.com/go/georgia-jackson-studios

A really fun video series of all the neighbours watching the Olympic Hockey Game on the streets (yay canada)
http://liveonthedrive.com/articles/local/street-hockey-party-for-olympic-gold-medal-game/39164

I've been a "hyper-local-social" expert for several years now, talking about the benefits of local marketing to anyone that would listen.

Nice to see someone else shares my confidence in 'local'.

Drew Hubbard
Drew Hubbard March 12, 2010 at 11:44 AM

@Warren: Yours is an excellent point, and I understand the challenges that larger brands face with scalability. But it's not necessary that the brand actually run those blogs. Perhaps the brand could sponsor the creation of 20-30 local blogs in different regions by arranging deals with local universities. Building ambassadorships for the brand could be a way to bring the scalability problem under control. I would be interested to hear how other brands have tackled this challenge.

Warren Kay
Warren Kay March 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Considering 80% of consumer purchases are made within 15 miles of a persons home, it makes sense that marketers (of all sizes) should take advantage of every opportunity possible to connect with consumers at the (hyper)local level.

The challenge, is that its hard for marketers to connect at this level with any scale. The default is zip targeting on larger sites which doesn't give a marketer the same kind of connection.

I agree that providing compelling content is the first step, and i hope the ad industry continues to develop capabilities to enable marketers to reach these users when they are in the right frame of mind.