Personally, I think the best Web sites are those that allow people an appropriate blend of online and offline activity. The Web sites that will be hits in the future will offer a mixture of the digital and analog. Even though more and more people will use social networking sites, there is still (and always will be) a deep human need to connect in person with another human being.
A lot of Nashville-area bloggers have analyzed and over-analyzed the slow, painful death of a once useful and remarkable Web site, Nashville is Talking. What was once a wonderful resource, pointing people to digital and analog happenings, has now faded into digital meaninglessness because it ceases to be remarkable.
In its void, a group of Tennessee bloggers formed a new site, Music City Bloggers. Although it's only been up and running for less than a month, the site has seen success, not only in numbers and growth, but in finding a voice that a group of people were badly looking for. There was a need for people to connect online, to be directed to meaningful and worthwhile content, and to connect with others.
If you can meet a need (and not just a want), you'll be successful for longer and will reach more people. This what Music City Bloggers understands and Nashville is Talking forgot.
The blogging community is vast and diverse, and as such, cannot be lumped together consistently even with the term "the blogging community." However, the group of bloggers that formed Music City Bloggers understood what was missing and precisely what people wanted. It's good when you can think like your customer. It's better (and remarkable) when you are your customer.
Nashville is Talking got it right first when it hosted blogger meetups, allowing people to connect in person with the writers they were reading and finding on a daily basis. While not every blogger is itching to venture out and make new friends, when given the opportunity, people (introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between) will attempt to develop meaningful relationships. Many Nashville bloggers would often write about the friends they made at the latest get-together.
I've been to a gathering or two when there have been bloggers present. I've learned that at a blogger meetup, everyone's a celebrity. In most of the world, you've got to have thousands or millions of readers to have people want to meet you, or to have people you don't know pay attention to what you do. Not in Nashville. Here, a handful of people are dying to meet you and follow what you write. They come up to you at parties and tell you they love your writing. There's nearly no other feeling like that. Making people feel important and valued for their contribution to society is a remarkable attribute. Sites like Music City Bloggers highlight others' contributions to the blogosphere and the world.
In the digital world, it's easy to get mean, say things you never would, and attack others based on one line of text. Music City Bloggers tries to avoid that road more traveled and instead highlight the good writing, the funny anecdotes, and the noteworthy commentary.
There is no such thing as a mass market anymore. This is why traditional media and news outlets are shrinking - they're still trying to pander to everyone. Niche markets and tailored content publications (digital and analog) are what work now. People are now better educated consumers of goods, services, and media, and because information is easier to get than ever before, people look for it like never before.
People look for different perspectives, and Music City Bloggers provides this through a diversity of voices. Nashville is Talking once paid a person to have a unique voice but to also balance the varying opinions of the blogging community. Music City Bloggers offers this naturally with their diverse board of writers. Therefore, more time can be spent on doing what it does best (highlighting the local). It's one thing to have a set of values; it's a remarkable thing to embed those values in the way you do business.
Here's to hoping that Music City Bloggers continues to be a good destination for local writing, a way to highlight the good, and a way to connect people to one another.