Qork is a new hyperlocal social network that aims to help people connect with their local community. While a novel idea, it’s not new. Does Qork have what it takes to make social work at the hyperlocal level?
We live in a social media saturated world where time zones are easily transcended, helping us feel closer to loved ones and friends far away. But it’s not just about being connected. Thanks to this hyperconnectivity we’re able to experience events that take place miles away as if we’re there. Where social media falls flat is in connecting us to our local community.
Why is it that we’re able to follow events like the recent attack in France closely, and yet have little idea what’s happening in our neighborhood? That’s something Qork, an app which was released today, aims to change.
A hyperlocal social network
Qork is a social media platform with a different kind of approach as it focuses on connecting people at the hyperlocal level. The idea is that it will become the go-to platform for people to connect with others in the area and share information, questions or suggestions about local news and events. Like any good social network, Qork includes all the features we’ve come to expect including the option to share photos and and links as well as start conversations with other users. Where this network differs, however, is in enabling you to explore your local area through either a map or stream.
“Our focus on the map was really important to us, as it creates some really cool opportunities to explore local activity around the world as a kind of “social media tourism.” Imagine panning over to Paris earlier this week to see the Qorks around the big solidarity march that happened there, or panning over to Tel Aviv to see what Qorks are emerging out of a Geektime conference. A world of Qork users create some really exciting possibilities,” Adam May, Qork CEO, told Geektime.
In some ways you might compare Qork to a hyperlocal Twitter or perhaps a Facebook group as the platform aims to be provide people with real-time information about what’s happening in their community now. This could include everything from an update on a breaking news story, a question for locals, a restaurant review or perhaps a shoutout about a fun event that’s happening.
Social networking with a difference
Where Qork stands out is that it’s a platform dedicated exclusively to these local communities. This means that not only are there features you wouldn’t find on Twitter or a Facebook group, like a map and user ratings, but the platform allows a level of privacy other social networks don’t. “I may want to complain about a terrible experience I had at a restaurant in Jerusalem, but I don’t necessarily want my name attached – or all my old professional contacts in New York seeing it. On Qork you can cultivate your own personality detached from the personality you cultivate on Facebook – and for a good reason. Facebook is for your friends, but Qork is for your local community. It’s not always the same audience,” explained May.
This social network, unlike sites like Yak Yak and Secret, takes what the Qork team have called a “prosocial” approach to online interaction. This is because they encourage users to take ownership of the the content they post, and even reward users for posting valuable content in a similar way to sites like Quora or Stack Overflow.
But perhaps most fascinating is how this social network turns people into citizen journalists whose local reports create a powerful resource anyone can tap into and use. The app, unlike other social networks, could also change how people experience their local community. “We hope that Qork will make people feel more connected with their local communities and reinvigorate that phenomenon of a local town square – a place where people go to spread news, promote events, deal with local businesses, and connect with other locals,” said May.
Reinventing the hyperlocal business model?
While a novel idea, there is nothing new about a hyperlocal social network. Some of the biggest players including AOL and MSNBC have tried to make hyperlocal news platforms work without too much success. AOL’s Patch which shut down in 2013 is perhaps the best example of just how tricky it is to monetize a hyperlocal platform. While Adam did explain that this was largely due to Patch’s decision to hire journalists around the country instead of relying on citizen reporters to power the platform, it still seems that Qork has its work cut out for it.
The team plans on tapping into the hyperlocal advertising market which Adam explained needs to be simplified. The startup has sights on a Facebook Boost method of advertising at the local level. This would enable businesses to use Qork to easily set up ads to target the local community. “Almost like a 21st century flyer on a bulletin board,” explained May.
Qork was founded by May, Philip Perkins,CTO, and Ben Goldman, CMO. This Israel-based team is no stranger to media with May having worked as a journalist at Inside New York; Perkins as an engineer at Bloomberg and Goldman as an MTV producer. Qork is the team’s first app and is available for free on Android and iOS.