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.]