One thing I learnt when building StreetLend is that reaching out into the local community is important.
There are plenty of sites that try to offer a local feel, but are run at a national level, and whose creators have never met the people they seek to serve.
The new local forum for SE23 is different. I created it because I wanted a better forum for Forest Hill / Honor Oak, where I now live. And it’s taken off phenomenally well.
I met shopkeepers before launching it in May 2016, had a meetup within four days of launch, and organised subsequent meetups which have grown steadily in attendance. We have six local businesses paying to post on the site, and it looks like the site will be self-sustaining.
Our unique selling point is verified users. Profiles are marked ‘verified’ when the SE23.life team has met them in real life. This helps establish trust, and genuinely local feel. A couple of local shops are helping verify users, and we’ve verified about a hundred so far.
We recently reported on the Forest Hill Sinkhole and the forum responded brilliantly. 1000 visits within just a couple of hours, and plenty of sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s clear this forum is working within SE23 and I’m keen to perfect the model locally-first.