Charles Dickens once said that “The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” For Dan Jones, founder and CEO of NorthAmericaTalk, community social networks(tm) are constructed, created, and crafted into an online labor of love.
NorthAmericaTalk is a media hub for news, business profiles, event listings, and upbeat regional content. Think of it as the proud parent to more than a dozen neighborhood portals across the Pacific Northwest with the potential—and proven track record—to expand nationwide.
Jones moved to Thurston County, Washington in 2000 and originally worked in the technology field. It didn’t take long to realize how much local internet traffic was leaving the community. Working with economic development groups and Chambers of Commerce, he quickly “identified that the landscape of media was changing, but you had to be sitting in front of a computer to access it.”
This, however, tidily meshed with a love of multi-format tech toys and a big dream for the future. He still has the vintage Pocket PC that made him realize digital portability was “the paper of the future.” His eureka moment arrived with first generation iPhones. To Jones, they represented a hand-held “opportunity to create a brand recognized across a geographic location” that could be viewed anywhere by anyone.
But more than just riding the Northwest innovation wave, Jones wanted to unify neighborhoods in a positive, innovative way. “Most news was so negative,” he recalls. “It didn’t represent what it’s truly like to live, work, or play in the community.” By using the Talk platform as a portal, he hopes to capture “local eyes on local news on mobile devices.”
And it’s working. Residents can use their local page to find events and activities, meet small business owners, read about civic clubs and organizations, or add an undiscovered restaurant to their dinner menu. “It’s good for residents and economic development groups to see what a community is like,” says Jones. “We want our brand to be an acquaintance for the community.”
From centralized offices, the Talk format hires talent to handle daily boots-on-the-ground writing. Marketing, editorial, and office liaison staff facilitate content, ads, social media, and web traffic. “Customers often ask, ‘When are you going to be in our community?’” says Jones. “But it’s an organic expansion.” They currently have 105 locations identified across the United States where local stakeholders can advocate for a Talk platform of their own.
Growth comes after exploring a region, analyzing its distinct population, and determining the necessary information to pre-sell the market. Then seed planting begins. “High quality content attracts high quality talent and people want to work with Talk because it feels like a friend.” He currently has 125 people working under the NorthAmericaTalk banner.
Business owners galore have come to rely on the advertising as well as data gleaned via Talk’s Community Social Network(tm). “We create a community social graph to give customers a view of what’s popular, and searched-for content to provide value outside of getting logos and profiles out there. We’re positioning ourselves to become the largest community-focused media company in the Pacific Northwest.”
Now that it’s been created, Dan’s construct is proving its worth. Statistics show that NorthAmericaTalk has more than 125,000 social followers, reaches more than 1,000,000 viewers monthly, and provides value-added resources like community calendars and demographic-specific analytics. In the first half of 2017 alone, the company earned four regional awards for their reporting, green business practices, and reach all up and down the I-5 corridor.
Companies require tireless dedication, inspiration, and perspiration from their creators. But they also take on the founder’s personality and attitudes. Dan Jones’s optimism, gregarious outlook and pride of place are all evident in his ebullient digital offspring.