Local and social media, produced by individuals and news sites alike, have a new place to hang out, and it’s called Relevnt. Launched late last year, the app “is like Yelp meets Reddit for social media,” said Winder Hughes, the company’s CEO and founder.
The app will serve as a platform for online communities based on geographic location. Those communities could be local news outlets, interest groups based on topics like music or fashion, or any other group a user would like to create.
The concept for Relevnt emerged in the context of Hughes’ own desire to connect with local guitar players. “I play guitar, and there’s no platform that allows me to connect with locals who want to play guitar,” he said.
Relevnt’s registered communities can be open or closed to posts from other users; a community like the New York Post would be closed, while a music interest group could be open to any local user, Hughes said. It can be difficult for local influencers, podcasters, and bloggers to find traction, and this app will provide new discovery opportunities for those types of content creators, he added.
The app will provide a variety of monetization opportunities. After creating their first free group (which receives its own URL), users have to pay $5 to register a new site. Content management tools and analytics, similar to but simpler to use than tools provided by systems like WordPress, will be provided.
Users can pay to promote their sites in specific locations. Eventually, the app will allow advertisers to pay to target specific groups of people in specific places. “We’re going to charge … to give them this highly targeted, location-based ad serving opportunity,” Hughes said.
Local and small businesses will especially benefit from the advertising opportunities provided by these location-based groups, Hughes said. Currently, small local businesses often rely on boosted posts on Facebook.
“These local businesses are grossly underserved,” Hughes said. In his view, Relevant offers advertisers the opportunity to target high-interest consumers in a more organic fashion. For example, a local fashion boutique could advertise on a local group centered on fashion influencers, providing the boutique a tailored advertising space.
Relevnt’s strategy for building interest in its service centers on college campuses. The app is creating partnerships with college newspapers, wherein the newspaper establishes a site with a chatroom function that allows the newspaper to disseminate its content while directly engaging with students.
Hughes recently met with students at UNC-Chapel Hill’s The Daily Tar Heel, which will be launching a site on Relevnt. The site will aim to encourage local student groups to get involved with Relevnt, creating an interest that Hughes hopes will then spread to the local community beyond the college campus.
“It’s the ultimate spot for local discovery, connection, and knowledge,” Hughes said. “Our entire why is re-energizing the local media economy.”
Anna Kramer is a staff writer at Street Fight.