North Andover Patch launched one year ago today.
Wow. Time flies.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of North Andover Patch. It is with great pleasure that I mark this day and reflect on what North Andover Patch has become.
When I launched the site on Sept. 22, 2010, I had no idea how it would be received. Virtually no one in town knew what Patch was.
I had spent the previous several weeks preparing for launch. We collected directory listings and photos from the many, many businesses, government offices and other organizations around town (a couple thousand, actually) for our massive comprehensive directory.
I introduced myself to local officials at Town Hall and spoke with people around town about the site. Most seemed intrigued by it, but there was still very little name recognition. That would change.
And vice versa. Having lived in the area most of my life and having grown up down the street from the town, I figured I knew enough. But in the weeks leading up to the launch, I learned more about North Andover than I'd even known about any town ever.
The site launched that September morning, with 14 new articles, and we were up and running. But still I had no idea what North Andover Patch could be, and what it would become.
Things went a lot more smoothly for the launch than I'd expected. Like most start-ups, Patch evolved quickly and then constantly. But every step of the way, that evolution has been shaped by readers and user engagement.
In early 2011, we introduced things like Moms Talk to encourage engagement from local parents and Great Escape to give you ideas on things you can do without the kids. We also introduced a new blogging feature called Local Voices that gives you the opportunity to get your voice out there with the Patch audience.
We developed things like live blogging to keep you up-to-the-minute on things like the Thanksgiving football game last year, the many snowstorms of the winter and the March election. This summer, we developed a new live blogging feature that connected with you, the audience, and we used that feature all over the east coast in our ground-breaking coverage of Hurricane Irene.
Patch is still a work in progress. The question isn't "how did Patch evolve?" but rather "how is it evolving?" And the answer is that it evolves to fit the needs of the community.
Social media has played a major role in the development of Patch and expansion of the Patch community. Over the past 12 months, North Andover Patch has gained several hundred new followers in Facebook as well as several hundred followers on Twitter.
Followers on social media get breaking news alerts quickly as well as a platform in which to discuss local topics. And having your town's local news on your Facebook newsfeed keeps you connected up to the minute.
All About You
We've had a lots of great work by staff and freelancers on this site. And we've had lots of support from the company higher-ups in New York. But the single most defining factor in North Andover Patch's success is you, the community.
You drive content. Your engagement drives discussion. Your participation makes North Andover Patch a truly community-focused site. So this celebration is yours as much as it is mine.
So keep the feedback coming. Keep the ideas coming. Be vocal, get connected and have fun. Stay involved in making this your community site where you and your neighbors gather, your voice can be heard and your stories can be told.
Here's to you, North Andover.
Editor, North Andover Patch