What makes Oakland Local different? (Notes for a talk)

We’re six weeks into the launch of Oakland Local, the new news & community site for Oakland myself and a merry band of co-conspirators launched about six weeks ago. Talking with people who have not yet spent time on the site, I’m always asked How are you different from (insert name of one of 3-6 Oakland or Bay area blogs).

So. here’s what I say:

  • Oakland Local is a news  & community hub that combines reported stories with grassroots community news and events from local non-profits and neighborhood organizations.
  • Because we are organized around issues of concern to Oakland, we focus on topics including environment & pollution, food access, transportation, development & gentrification, gender & identity. We also cover arts & education, local politics and social justice/social change issues.
  • We provide Oaklanders with a place to connect and talk about issues, to post news they care about, and to find information that isn’t widely available. We also help organizations working in Oakland bridge the digital divide by helping them build capacity to use the web–and Oakland Local–to share their stories, get the word out, and ask for help.
  • Our team is made up of Oakland residents with backgrounds in journalism, community organizing, media, business and community organizing..
  • There are no other blogs or news outlets in the area that provide the diversity of voices, the range of perspectives and the resources we’re offering.
  • One of our goals is to  fill the gap that leaves many people in the Town without enough voice and/or information.
  • Another is to to build civic empowerment and community engagement by building capacity for the non-profits, neighborhood groups, and community organizations we work with to use  OL as a platform to be heard, as well as to gain skills to use on the sociable web (Facebook, twitter, etc.)

How are we doing?

  • 1st month of operation: 12,000 unique visitors
  • Average time spent on site: 2.84 minutes
  • Highest time: 9.4 minutes
  • Pages viewed:3.2

According to Google Analytics, most of our visitors are from San Francisco, Oakland, Piedmont and Pleasanton.

We’re registering people who want to write, comment, blog, and post on our calendar and we have about 85 of them. And we’re got a core of about 15 community groups who are now posting regularly to the site, with more coming on.
Our commentators and forum posters are also growing, but this is the area where we need to do the most work; we don’t yet have that critical core of, oh 10 engaged talkers, who make a site’s community seem so engaged and busy.

On Facebook, we are zooming, with more that 1,760 members, tons of discussion, and vibrant postings. On Twitter, we’ve got about 500 followers, and a nice build.

Next up: Selling ads. We’re got the pricing, we’ve got the ad serving system, and now we need to really commit to the sales.

Note: Kwan Booth and I will be at a USC conference on local sites and entrepreneurship, so this data is very much on my mind.