People abuse the term ‘community’. A community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” It doesn’t mean the million things politicians want it to.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram talk about their community – but we’re certainly not in the same neighbourhood and we don’t have much in common (especially if you look at your feed on Twitter). There is a second definition though, which is a bit broader: ‘a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.’ This is probably what they mean, but in no way does any of those platforms create a real sense of community. We just use them to create our own communities – of friends and family.
CliffCentral.com and Waterfall Estate have created a podcast for a real community. It’s really a first of its kind, a monthly podcast for people who live, work and connect in the estate. Waterfall is one of the biggest developments in South Africa – it includes 8 residential developments, the enormous Mall of Africa, a hospital, schools, and even a heliport. This podcast aims to address matters of interest to that community in a way broadcasting never could – with useful information, interesting stories and profiles of the residents, businesses and features of being in Waterfall. We can get really detailed and we can reach people closer to home than old media could.
One of the other things that makes this unique is the way it integrates into an existing Go Waterfall app – the same app residents use for entry control, to report problems and deal with emergencies. The podcast will now pop up every time there’s a new one and the busy people of Waterfall will be able to listen to a short piece of audio, rather than set aside time to read a newsletter or go to a meeting. It could become a template for the thousands of other residential developments throughout South Africa.
In the worlds of marketing and advertising, there’s a lot of talk about online or digital communities. This is an example of a digital community that is also a real geographical community and the virtuous cycle that can be started. Podcasting, with its unlimited bandwidth, can help create a whole broadcasting hub in a neighbourhood, and let that neighbourhood generate its own colourful content – and Waterfall are pioneering the prototype for a new way of connecting.