Localism: Still a Wasteland | KOMO: We Want Some of that Action

A little over a year ago ActiveRain (basically a social network for real estate professionals) launched
Localism, an attempt at leveraging their nationwide network of real estate salespeople to generate content for thousands of “hyperlocal” city and neighborhood portals, presumably in order to create an attractive platform on which small businesses would spend their advertising dollars. Our review of Localism’s Seattle-area offerings concluded that the site amounted to little more than sales pitches from “hyperlocal” agents.

Checking in on Localism a year later reveals that not much has changed. The four local pages we reviewed are nearly as empty as they were, with none of the so-called “hyperlocal” blogs even managing to average more than about two posts per month. The contributors are all still all real estate salespeople, and the registration page still says “we’re not taking new accounts right now.”

With the rousing success of Localism in their first year, it’s no wonder that other corporations would be dying to jump onto the “let’s create a bunch of ‘hyperlocal’ blogs on templates” bandwagon—wait, what? No, that doesn’t make any sense. And yet, that’s exactly what KOMO News decided to do this week, launching their very own “community” pages.

KOMO’s new pages are definitely a few steps above the bland failure that is Localism. From day one they are allowing and encouraging people to register and contribute. The layout is more inviting and looks like it has more going on. Plus, at least as at the corporate level KOMO is local to the “hyperlocal” markets they are attempting to attract.

I do notice that advertising takes up quite a bit of “above the fold” space, and their right sidebar has a dedicated section for “Local Real Estate Agents,” so it is fairly obvious what KOMO’s motivation is here. I certainly don’t begrudge them the chance to try to make money, but I still don’t see what they’re offering that local blogs are not.

Just like Localism, many of the communities with shiny new KOMO pages already have popular, well-established blogs, run by dedicated locals. KOMO says they’re not attempting to compete with these sites, but in reality I doubt there are really two separate markets in the neighborhood blogging scene—one for authentic, community-driven blogs, and another for template-ized, corporate profit vehicles.

[Update: See an (official?) response from KOMO below, describing their perspective.]

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

19 comments:

  1. 1
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    The P-I was also seeking local bloggers a few months ago. I don’t think much ever came of that, but there may be a Bellevue blog.

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  2. 2

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1

    I’ve seen these websites disappear as fast as they’re created too, when its mostly the townhall type meeting populist bubble heads controling the blogs, they don’t last long :-)

    Other MSM websites simply don’t allow general blogging [or have a coporate lapdog moderator block general freedom of speech; same thing]….LOL

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  3. 3
    ray pepper says:

    So many blogs so little time. Some have great pictures but unfortunately bring nothing new to the table in the form of real estate and VALUE to the consumer. This local one by an Agent is nice but in the end its 6% down the drain.

    http://gigharborundressed.neighborhoodsundressed.com/

    My favorite was the Open House News Tribune Blog. I was bashed incessantly by Agents and their families. It was very therapeutic and unfortunately it went the way of the “Wild Ass.”

    http://www.animalport.com/extinct-animals/Wild-Ass.html

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  4. 4
    Justin Louie says:

    I certainly don’t begrudge them the chance to try to make money, but I still don’t see what they’re offering that local blogs are not… KOMO says they’re not attempting to compete with these sites, but in reality I doubt there are really two separate markets in the neighborhood blogging scene—one for authentic, community-driven blogs, and another for template-ized, corporate profit vehicles.

    These guys come and go not because they don’t understand what matters. They’ve probably staffed 1-2 people, maybe less, controlling and monitoring these new blogs. The space is massive and the content generated is too weak. Sure you have dedicated contributors, but they’re just doing a job.

    It’s the people who truly care about the community, who simply want to give back succeed the most. myballard, westseattle, issaquahundressed… these community blogs all exist because someone cares. The content is king, the advertisement is a following.

    If Komo can realize, advertising isn’t the important portion and focus on generating quality content, I think they can do well.

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  5. 5
    Courtney says:

    Well I obviously like Localism as you know – it has been around longer than the last year, but the relaunch was about a year ago. I do get a lot of inquiries about my posts there and I especially like to promote various local businesses on the site.

    I have seen the KOMO commercials about their blogs and have already had about 15 sales calls from them trying to get sponsorships from me and my agents. It is annoying. I think I will stick with Localism:)

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  6. 6
    Anon. says:

    Here’s a good blog post on how lame the KOMO blogs are (mercer island blogger.)
    http://mercerislandblogger.wordpress.com/

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  7. 7
    Fred says:

    What’s wrong with the dozens of neighborhood blogs that already exist? They are typically run by passionate people really care about what is happening in a “hyper local” area. See myballard.com for example.

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  8. 8
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Fred @ 7

    What’s wrong with the dozens of neighborhood blogs that already exist?

    They don’t bring in advertising revenue for an increasingly irrelevant KOMO.

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  9. 9

    RE: Courtney @ 5 – Courtney, I would just be mindful that whenever you write or submit content (photos, etc) to a blog that you don’t own…you have potential to lose control over your product.

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  10. 10
    David Losh says:

    RE: Courtney @ 5

    You have a nice web site and exactly how I think a front page should look.

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  11. 11
    David Losh says:

    RE: Rhonda Porter @ 9

    I’m so sorry. I sent Jillyanne an e-mail because that was a shock. You on the other hand may be able to benefit more because your business deals directly for consumers.
    Best of Luck.

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  12. 13
    The Tim says:

    RE: Troy McGuire @ 12 – Fair enough, Troy. Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts. I have updated the post to point out your comment.

    That being said…

    We also have many realtors (near 100) getting ready to blog for us about neighborhood events and news. They are not allowed to write about real estate. All of them, wanted to do it because they too are passionate about their community. (for those reading this, thank you!)

    Let’s not kid ourselves here. They may indeed be passionate about their respective communities, but I’d bet cash money that a large part of their motivation for blogging is to generate referrals. Heck, I attended REBarCamp Seattle in February (and I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it), and one of the talks someone put on was specifically about how real estate agents can blog about their local community to generate referrals and grow their business.

    Hey, if they’re producing quality content, more power to them, but why pretend they are motivated by pure civic passion?

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  13. 14
    mikal says:

    Pass

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  14. 15
    The Tim says:

    RE: mikal @ 14 – Oh, snap, you got me! My secret motivation when I launched the site in August 2005 was to make big bags of money and retire. I must kind of suck at it though, since I didn’t add any kind of advertising or other money-making features to the site until February 2008

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  15. 17
    The Tim says:

    RE: Troy McGuire @ 16 – I get the whole symbiotic relationship you’re going for there. It’s the same thing that Localism tried to leverage. As I mentioned in the post, I think you guys have a better chance of success since your company is locally-based. IMO, the success of this venture will depend on whether you are able to get some really dedicated contributors to post new and interesting content pretty much every day.

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  16. 18
    Troy McGuire says:

    Agreed. As you know it’s all about the content. We’ll see where it goes…

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  17. 19
    Sharyn says:

    Mr. McGuire – At least two established local community news websites have checked with some of the businesses that are shown on a few of your new sites as purported sponsors and have been told that those businesses did not buy advertising with you. Here is one publicly posted mention of this:
    http://twitter.com/jseattle/statuses/3371972570
    This seems to coincide with the observation on the Mercer Island blog mentioned above that at least one of the businesses allegedly sponsoring your MI page is defunct. Why are you pretending to have “sponsors” that you don’t have? If you claim to be simply offering free advertising space till you sell some, isn’t it unethical to imply – which “sponsor” does – that these businesses are supporting/endorsing you? Why were your salespeople, by multiple accounts (including one in this comment string), hounding local businesspeople to buy ads less than one week after launch, without growing an audience and proving your value first?

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