Connecting our cities and ushering in the future of local connection, search, and e-commerce.
During the pandemic, we took to social platforms and sifted through a sea of disinformation to try to figure out what was going on. We found ourselves looking for verified information and wondering what was still open and available in our neighborhoods. Even though we’re technically more connected than ever before, the tools to connect locally and an infrastructure to support cities and communities just don’t exist.
Social focuses on who we already know and follow, but that leaves out everyone else and what’s right around us. Shifting our social graph to a local one opens up the potential for more meaningful connections and impact in our cities. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has done, it has accelerated the future and made us rethink how we will connect to what’s happening around us.
“Social media, right now, is not working well for us as citizens in a democracy. The failure we are dealing with is a failure of imagination. What if we were actually building tools alongside the communities which we all individually work with and serve?” — Ethan Zuckerman
The Evolution of Local TV and Radio
Local TV and radio are way overdue for an upgrade. They can no longer be passive platforms that we turn on to get breaking news, crime, the weather, and syndicated programming. They need to adapt new formats and activate communities to reach a wider audience.
Local networks can be the evolution of local TV and radio. They can seamlessly incorporate the voices of communities to enable people to connect to what’s around them. Local networks should act as the ‘goodwill ambassador’ of a city, connecting people to businesses, organizations, and groups — but with the much needed utility and curation that has been lacking in current platforms.
Local networks are essential for cities. They should distribute information, support communities, and act as a marketplace of connection.
“No one dominates local streaming yet. [Let’s say], I just got to Austin. What can I just stream around Austin? What’s going on where I can just be on my phone and check out everything? There’s no local drivers.” — Mark Cuban (Recode Media podcast, March 12, 2019)
The Trend Towards Local Networks
We are doing over 1.5 billion searches a day to find what’s nearby. We are constantly looking for where to eat, events, things to do, and local insight. We’re often opening up multiple tabs for one search query — a review site, a social profile, a map — just to get a feel for what we’re looking for.
Local networks should distribute multiple formats of media, with a focus on video utility. Video is the fastest way to engage viewers, accelerate trust, and power recommendations. We are consuming 6 hours of video a day across devices, and people are relying on videos to stay informed, entertained, and to make purchasing decisions.
This is a universal behavior that could draw frequent use to local networks, but with the added utility, all in one platform. Video utility can also unlock new business models for platform sustainability.
Local gets lost on social. Local networks would empower businesses, organizations, local leaders and influencers with distribution to reach relevant viewers above the noise of social media. People would actually be able to find what they’re looking for and discover what’s happening right on their doorstep. Think about all the things you’ve missed out on or information you should know, all because it got lost in feeds or didn’t rank well on search.
Many small businesses will bypass websites and opt for mobile first solutions to quickly connect, market, and sell their products and services. It’s pretty easy to start a business today and setup online payments. But the moment a business goes to let people know it’s open, they start with zero followers on social and on the last page of search.
On current platforms, there’s still a chasm between businesses and attainable customers intentionally searching for what they have to offer. Would you rather have 10,000 followers, or 10 local customers who spend $300/month with your business? Businesses don’t need likes. They need conversion.
Intention + Location = Attainable Customers
Attainable Customers + Video = Accelerated Conversion
Imagine starting a business and being able to plug into built in audiences by location and target by time and interest. Attainable customers are more valuable than scrolling followers, and businesses shouldn’t have to keep churning out content on social to be discoverable. Local networks would enable new businesses to plug into communities, instantly.
BRIDGE — ‘The Spotify of Local Discovery’
The same way Spotify helps you discover new artists and songs, BRIDGE allows you to tap into a city and discover businesses and experiences around you. We distribute video through search, maps, and calendars — utilities we use everyday — to connect people to what’s around them. Instead of playlists, BRIDGE utilizes maps and calendars that allow you to search and save by neighborhoods and interests.
BRIDGE optimizes video for utility. It creates search you can see, local marketplaces, and discovery channels. This enables viewers to tap into a city, connect directly with communities, and attain what they see.
Verified accounts from businesses, organizations, brands, and community leaders will have the ability to broadcast across the network, outside of crowded platforms. This makes it easier for the viewer to find what they’re looking for the moment they want it and get a window to cities around the world.
At BRIDGE, businesses and organizations can connect, market, and sell to people nearby with video. We create the ‘Amazon of local goods & services’ to provide much needed infrastructure for small businesses to compete online.
Video storefronts for marketing with concierge video services
Businesses can create video storefronts, simply by uploading content they already have, and begin marketing and selling to people nearby. BRIDGE does the work of finding attainable customers. We also offer video services for businesses. All the content is optimized for search by map and calendar, as well as distributed in discovery channels by location and categories.
Ability to sell new lines of products & services on-demand
Businesses can create new lines of products and services, utilizing live streaming or pre-recorded videos for classes and events. All the content can be stored and leveraged for search, digital coupons, and even subscriptions for creators and influencers to sell on-demand access.
Targeted marketing with measurable ROI & neighborhood insight
About 61% of millennial business owners spend over $50,000 a year on advertising. BRIDGE offers businesses a monthly subscription to broadcast their content across mobile and connected TV, targeting viewers both locally and globally. We extend the shelf life of content by putting it to work for businesses.
Restaurants could alert their daily specials to people nearby, and a yoga instructor could signal to residents a pop-up class in the park happening now. We provide an insight dashboard to see what is trending by neighborhood and tools to set signals to reach people at the right time and place.
Social media feels like empty calories, while connecting locally can be more fulfilling. The short-lived dopamine hit we get from a ‘like’ on a post from a stranger doesn’t compare to the serendipity of discovering a yoga group that meets up in your neighborhood.
Call to Action to Build Local Networks
The pandemic affected over 30 million small businesses across the US, with nearly half of all Black small businesses having to shut down. There’s been a 129% year-over-year growth in e-commerce, but local businesses have struggled to compete with Amazon. Restaurants are taking a hit from delivery services, and many are using them just to let people know they’re still open.
We need to be building solutions that stimulate local economies, facilitate new tools for businesses, and support local communications. Local has become synonymous with trust. Accountability is missing from social platforms, but can be intrinsically built into local networks. Optimizing distribution for new and existing content will help connect our neighborhoods and cities.
As we shift from social and continue to connect more locally, we should be amplifying businesses, organizations, communities, and local news above the noise of social platforms. The rise of local networks are inevitable, and BRIDGE can bring our cities into the future of search and e-commerce.
TL;DR — If I can leave you with this….
The need for local networks that enable us to connect to what’s around us has accelerated due to the pandemic. Currently, there are 140 million businesses on social media vying for our attention on saturated feeds. Businesses and organizations shouldn’t be competing on social feeds not intentionally built for them.
Local networks have the opportunity to provide infrastructure to support and stimulate local economies — both online and offline. Video is the future of search and e-commerce, and every single business will need a video presence moving forward. Local networks will optimize video for local distribution, discovery, and conversion.
Imagine you could tap into a city and see what’s happening around you. Local networks would enable you to do so. At BRIDGE, we are focused on building with cities and amplifying communities above the noise of social media.
We’re setting out to build the bridge to local connection on your phone and TV. We distribute videos to viewers so they can discover and attain what they see through search, maps, and calendars — utilities we use everyday.
We are committed to building infrastructure that serves cities, connects communities, and stimulates our local economies. We’ve currently worked with over 150 small businesses, non-profits, and organizations to build our first local network in Miami.
We are proud to have been one of the winners of the Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures HI-HERImpact Pitch Competition, which values women led startups that are seeking to improve and rebuild the economy. We are actively seeking partnerships with local stakeholders and investors to build the bridge to local connection.
Those who move early and build a platform now will inherit the audiences and consumers of tomorrow.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss how we’re building the future of how people will connect locally around the world with BRIDGE.
Thank you for reading! If you’re obsessed with media and excited for the future of video platforms, here are more articles I’ve written: