Strengthening Small Town Community Bonds With a Social Media Wall
Welcome to Modest community, USA. It may not be where you’d hope to see an online entertainment wall, with the exception of this modest community has Peter Slapichner.
Peter lives in Hastings, Minnesota, and has been a Walls.io client starting around 2018. In his quest to keep the people in his hometown connected, we have witnessed him experiment with various uses of our platform over the years.
The platform is known by its current name, HastingsNow. HastingsNow is a website that aggregates Hastings, Minnesota-specific information. Peter uses five social media walls to collect content:
Elections, Food and Drink, Sports, and Community Stories
Additionally, he repurposes the content by producing brief videos that summarize the ten most popular user-generated stories.
I’ve come to realize over the years that Peter constantly alters HastingsNow, which is always changing. As a result, any showcase can only serve as a snapshot in time (in point of fact, more changes have occurred since we began working on this showcase). However, I recently conducted an interview with Peter and Ashley to learn more about their website, HastingsNow, and their journey to this point.
Therefore, how did HastingsNow begin?
Peter: I’m initially from here however skipped around a little. Ashley and I fell in love when I moved back home. We also bought a digital camera rather than hiring a wedding photographer so that we could begin telling our own story.
Ashley had told me that she liked to take pictures. She had taken a class in high school, and the work she showed me impressed me greatly. Therefore, we utilized the wedding-purchased digital camera. At one in the morning, we would enter a bar. We might get two that worked if I ripped off 350 photos, but it gradually became more effective.
We struck side deals with almost all of the town’s businesses and industries. We were, as, “is it OK on the off chance that we just come in and take photographs and anything that we think of? We are pleased to grant you permission to repurpose them for free because we anticipate that you will require them.
Some small businesses didn’t even know how important having a website was back then. As a result, we developed a website into a platform and provided everyone with a micro website, similar to a profile with links. We were also able to create this visual architecture of Hastings from all of the pictures we took, where you could get lost for hours just by going down these rabbit holes. Everything was important to us as long as it was local.
Therefore, that was sort of where we began. And afterward, during the downturn, around 2008, we saw this article that our humble community was running a challenge to rebrand our city. We then presented a concept. At first, it was known as “Good Morning, Hastings.com.” Additionally, the plan was to provide everyone with something to inform them of the day’s events when they awoke in the morning. We lost that pitch. We have achieved in any case, it amusing on the grounds that now, more than decade after the fact, that.
For what reason does Hastings require HastingsNow?
Peter: Sadly, Hastings is often thought of as a “bedroom community.” Even though people will sleep here, they will still go shopping and do everything else outside of town. So we thought, perhaps we can chip away at that story.
In the end, you kind of make a product that works for you personally. So I thought, “Okay, what kind of content do I want that will benefit me, my family, and my friends?” And if I can solve a problem for myself, I might be able to help other people.
At one point, we used Walls.io to create an app with the tagline “Hastings in the palm of your hands.” It was so beautiful. We wanted to make sure that HastingsNow would let you know about anything happening in town.
What is HastingsNow’s setup then?
Peter: We might publish a trending story at the top. After that, we move on to the top ten. Then there are five distinct sections, each of which has a social wall. Therefore, people who are particularly interested in sports, the news, food, and beverages can quickly select what they want. It’s like a directory in a way. Every business in the town is visible to you.
We have attempted to hand this over to the city and the local Chamber of Commerce and have them rebrand it as their own. However, local politics become problematic.
However, local business owners quickly realize that we can boost their HastingsNow presence for a small monthly fee.
As an example, let’s say I’m a local barber and want to be more visible on your website and social media pages. How does that function?
Peter: Individuals and businesses can connect with community leaders and engage with the public locally for as little as $9 per month. Members of Walls.io can directly add content to relevant feeds that can be shared on Snapchat, Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Stories, Reels, and other social networks.
We wanted to be a part of the daily activity of people checking their feeds. As a result, we attempted to develop a concise offering that would be extremely beneficial to our audience. We started making short videos, which we called “Quick Minute.”
What is the Quick Minute, then?
Ashley: We look at the Walls.io feeds every day and highlight an existing story by adding voice, video, and transcription to it. In the wake of forming a unique delineation, we share the “Fast Moment” on HastingsNow.com and its informal communities.
Peter: In recent times, we have been layering previously published content to improve connections and strengthen relevance. Additionally, the data demonstrates that this has evolved into an essential part of people’s morning routine.
Who is your primary target audience?
Peter: individuals who reside, work, and travel in this area
So there’s also a tourism component to it?
Ashley: Yes, if a platform like HastingsNow existed and I were to visit a different town, I would use it to learn about what’s going on there.
How do you inform the community about HastingsNow?
Peter: With local brands, it’s typically as simple as, “hey, did you know this is possible?” Someone I talked to recently said they were trying to reach seniors. I responded, “Well, one of the best things about Walls.io is that you can access the content without logging in and entering a password.” They can even create their own content. Everyone in the town has the ability to publish and tell their own stories. This person was taken aback.