Hyperlocal is defined as “online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community” (Nesta).
Hyperlocal is not a new concept – Kentish Towner, Birmingham Updates, and Sheffield Forum are all examples of hyperlocal online platforms with high user engagement that have thrived in the last decade, the latter garnering 260,000 unique monthly visits. But the importance of hyperlocal is on the rise. The BBC has recently laid out its intentions to add hyperlocal community outlets and bloggers to its local live streams.
Why should professional bodies take note of hyperlocal platforms?
People are increasingly expecting local media that is relevant to them – that includes members. Even though hyperlocal sites are unlikely to replicate the information and online platforms that professional bodies offer members, there will be discussions about professionals and issues related to that profession on these sites.
I think there are three key areas where membership organisations could use hyperlocal:
1. Hyperlocal news
Your media list should include relevant hyperlocal news sources and bloggers. These are additional channels you can use to push out your news stories. However, they can also offer a rich source of contacts and people on the ground, who could be focusing on issues related to the profession you represent.
2. Hyperlocal community platforms
In addition to news sites there are many hyperlocal community platforms. The UK’s Streetlife (which now has 1 million users) is a good example of local communities discussing many things including members of the profession you represent. On my local Streetlife site this week, there was a discussion about a local pharmacy that has shut down with lots of comments about the professional conduct of the pharmacist. If you aren’t engaging with these channels, you are missing out on influencing these conversations.
3. Using location to tailor content
Lots of professional bodies offer regional activities, but how is this communicated? How do members or potential members find information about their local activity? Do you have the technology to allow members to search for their nearest event on their smartphone, for instance?
Can information that you communicate be sliced into locally relevant segments and targeted appropriately?
Even mentioning location in the subject line of emails can help members feel more connected to the content.
Hyperlocal offers many opportunities; the key is identifying where to target your resource as there are so many sites and channels. If you want to find out more about the hyperlocal sector in the UK, Nesta is a good source of information.