Friday, June 24, 2011

Why We Trust Local Voices

One of my favorite local blogs is Our Oakland, written by @DIYGene, is exactly the kind of local publisher we want to help have a voice. I love how Gene honestly explores the city. Each place he goes he talks about it like its a fresh discovery. As he explores the signage of miss Pearl's Jam house, or explains the flavors and sights of our local wineries, he makes them feel like I am explorer on a journey through places I have never been.

Sometimes Gene is just talking about what he saw at a place or a picture that he took, sometimes he shares his honest opinion about the subject itself:

I have to admit being somewhat conflicted about zoos. On one hand, a good zoo can teach people a lot about animals and preserving the habitats necessary to support those animals. And most kids love zoos, at least for a certain age range. On the other hand, even a good zoo has the animals captive, and at best they live in an approximation of their natural habitats. In any event, Oakland has a pretty nice zoo.

from Our Oakland Zoo Review June 21, 2011

The honesty of that voice resonates, and its clear that the interest is based on the purity of that interest for its own sake. That's the thing people want from local, honest voices they can trust. When reading how fun the Random Party was at Linden Street Brewery it makes me thirsty and I am suddenly interested in drinking Adam's beer right now.

Genuineness is the best form of sales. My father sold people their first homes, and he told me that sales wasn't about lying about stuff so people will buy it, its about telling the truth and helping people find stuff they actually like. All being shill does is make people mistrust your authority and decrease you value as a referrer. When I see that you have genuine interest in something that creates value in you as a referrer for that which you have interest. You are singing the gospel of local, and advertising it as something that has worth.

To be perfectly clear this is all about local advertising. Our Oakland, is a form of local advertising, it just a more honest kind that feels better to your heart and brain. Its yummier local advertising because it comes from a place of integrity. Local advertising is transforming, every merchant has 1100 dollars that they were using on traditional forms of local advertising like yellow pages and newspaper. Where are they going to find the best value as this eventually transform to digital? Is it Yelp with the 456 strong wall of opinions? Is that expertise you can trust? Is it Groupon, where the Merchant bears the brunt of "the offer" and may not get any loyal customers at all? The place where they should advertise is where they can tell their story, people can fall in love with what they do, and become long term "patrons".

I think it's honest voices like Genes that people crave as grass roots advertising. People crave these voices because when its a local enthusiast, it resonates with their own love for a place. Local voices matter not just because they allow for a common thread and identity, they are also a product people trust and want.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fighting for Local

Fencing duelJust read an interesting article over at on a case study about foursquare mayorships, ad-hoc deals based on them, and how The Green House Tavern Restaurant in Cleveland managed to increase their bottom line just by offering the "employee discount" to the foursquare mayor.

This is one of those success stories that really helps the businesses understand why these technologies and approaches can help their business. Really. One thing that really rings interesting is this, when asked if they used any of the merchant tools the answer was, no.

Do you use any of the tools that Foursquare provides, like the merchants’ dashboard?
You know what, I tried to last year and I didn’t get the greatest response from it. I have been trying to change our special for a while because we’re opening another restaurant and I want to incorporate the two for check-ins, but I haven’t been able to successfully. So, I don’t know if I’m just not doing it right, but we don’t use it.
I can understand why, the reason this program worked is because it was simple, low touch and took very little maintenance from the merchant. We should remember that. Here is a very successful use of the game to drive business and foursquare didn't have any traction on the merchant tools. Lesson learned: dont invest in merchant tools.

While I find it really interesting that a fight for mayor broke out just because of a discount, I think people will fight even harder when that gaming ethic is tied to being a contributor to the growth and wellfare of the community. Let's make contributing to the our local economies a game with rewards! People love to compete, the only difference is when it can be quantified and socialized to help our society a whole new possibility emerges.

image attribution by uwdigitalcollections

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welocally Volunteering

Ever wanted to make a difference in your community and also be a part of a start-up that is using cutting edge technologies like SpringMVC 3.0 Android SDK, Rules Based AI, GeoLocation, and Social integrations using restful web services? WeLocally is a Oakland based start-up that is using cutting edge approaches to help local Oakland businesses thrive. For the last year WeLocally has been experimenting with location based gaming, and is now working with local businesses and blogs to help local experts reach out to Oakland residents using mobile applications. We have some big plans that are starting right here with the community owned, small businesses you love to go to. Don't like chains? Here is your chance to give our Oakland local businesses a fighting chance with our advanced technologies.

We are looking for people who know how to build great applications that people will love, and who also want to be a part of something meaningful. This is not charity work, but we do have a strict volunteer first policy, with the hope that we can transition volunteer contributors into founders.

Who we are looking for:
  • Will do ANY job. Doing over planning.
  • Won't give up.
  • Doesn't need to be managed.
  • Intelligence, Drive, Integrity
  • Vests

Got any of these skills? Drop us a line...

  • Spring3/Java Web Applications
  • WordPress & PHP
  • HTML5/JQuery
  • Photoshop and Design
  • Android/ObjectiveC
  • Social Media, SEO, Twitter and Blogging
  • Business Development

Let's go help local thrive!

image attribution: Dan Ranmarch

What is WeLocally?

WeLocally is a platform for local, we want to help local thrive. It helps publishers tie their expert knowledge about places, news and events to specific locations. It allows local merchants talk about their local stories and provide great offers by location. And it helps locally minded patrons find these great sources of content and deals all in a single mobile location based solution.

Local is becoming more important to many consumers who care about keeping their money inside of the community and WeLocally helps create a marketplace for that local exchange of value...

  • Publishers - We create a mobile branded solution that localizes your content and.
  • Merchants - We let you publish your offers and participate in the local buying game.
  • Patrons - We give you a fun and social way to participate in the local economy and get great deals right where you are.
Over the next few months we are expecting some important announcements. Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to keep informed about what is happening with welocally!