Inspired by Facebook Groups like Hip Antioch, Hip Mt.Juliet, Hip Murfreesboro, and Hip Nashville. I wanted to have a quicker and easier way to learn about information within MY local community and be able to trust what I'm told. A place where locals have power to speak freely about the local businesses, organizations, events, etc. A place where this information is readily stored for locals to access anytime when they NEED it, instead of waiting 10-30 minutes on tags from a Facebook Recommendation post. A place where the term "Did You Know That?" is put to good use for locals and the businesses that serve them. I got the idea of Nodat after I missed the opportunity to experience the new water park that opened in our city during the summer. I felt someone should have talked about it on social media to let others know! The idea developed further after reading a post in one of the Facebook Community Groups of a local user who had previously asked for a Facebook Recommendation for a contractor to help reconstruct his mother's house. He received 89 recommendation tags and randomly chose one. Well, he was taken for a $2500 deposit after meeting with the contractor and agreeing to do business. The contractor left town. He tried to contact the person who tagged the contractors name but no such luck. That's when I knew that video recommendations/vouch videos would better benefit the local community as well when seeking recommendations from their peers.

What it does

  • Makes advertising engaging and relevant to both brands and consumers by making the customer part of the advertising and marketing process.
  • Evens the playing field for local advertisers who currently have a disadvantage against larger chains.
  • Empowers locals to tell and share their story of their city through their own words using video.
  • Helps local business owners tap into the power consumers hold to create profitable relationships.
  • Empowers customer engagement with local brands.
    Users are awarded points for every action they perform that helps spread the word and market a local business. For example a user can earn 10 points for checking in, 15 points for making a video recommendation, 10 points for sharing the video to their Facebook or Twitter newsfeed, and 5 points for writing a review. They can spend the points they earn on exclusive coupons housed in our in-app Coupon Store created by our Premium Business Customers. For example a $10 off coupon may cost 500 Nodat Points. Points earned can be redeemed to purchase any coupon from the coupon store. Users are not required to use the points they earn from marketing one particular business on a coupon from that business. To keep the videos and reviews honest, users are awarded Nodat Points regardless of a positive or negative review. Business customers can play Local Trivia with our users to offer other exclusive deals as rewards. Business customers can offer one-time exclusive Checkin Offers to encourage their customers to check in.
  • Gives businesses more control over their advertising.
    Through a self-serve platform that allows direct messaging through personalized push messaging and quick text emails. The back-end sub-admin panel allows premium business customers to create offers and send them to our users by either targeting an entire city or a more targeted audience within a certain radius of their business (5 miles, 10 miles, 30 miles). Push notifications are capped at a specific amount of users at a time and no user receives more than one push message a day. For example business A sends a push notification within a 5 mile radius to 100 users and business B within that same 5 mile radius send a push message to a different set of 100 users. Broader reach and more users are available at an additional fee. We are currently working on improving targeting by adding the ability to choose interest and demographics.
  • Replaces written reviews with real customer conversations about everything local using video.
  • Supplies relevant information
  • Advertise businesses using the customer as the vehicle. When users share their videos and pictures to Facebook, a hyperlink is automatically embedded into the post that shows the name and address of the business. This turns the users post into a Community Ad. This benefits the user because they don't have to type in the name of the place (everything is done for them) and they are paid points for advertising the business on their news feed. This benefits the business because it helps them to cast their net in the right place (which is in front of their current customer's personal network). It also benefits the business because it doesn't necessarily look like an ad. It shows up like a regular post from a family or friend, which users are more likely to click on. They get to have fun and show off their good time or vent about a bad one but the business still gets advertising, more reach, and brand awareness. This feature also solves the problem of ad congestion and consumer distraction users are experiencing in their personal news feed. Local advertiser's are threatened by the amount of users who choose to hide ads from their news feed. Which lowers the success rate of their ad campaigns. By recruiting real customers and basically renting space on their news feed ,the business gets the opportunity to still get their business and services in front of an audience. Facebook stays a family & friends sharing platform while allowing it's users to continue to share their experience and participate in ad sharing while earning savings on the things they buy and the places they go. Things they are going to talk about on Facebook anyway. This just gives them a reason to do it more often.
  • Serves as a vouching system for business owners and freelancers.
    Our favorite benefit! New business owners and freelancers need someone to vouch for their services. The video reviews/recommendations stored in the app on the business page will do just that for this particular market.
  • Increases local brand awareness and loyalty through "Community-Based Marketing."
    It's like we are building a Facebook Group app that is dedicated to the locals of a specific community to access anytime they want to retrieve real and relevant local information from family and friends quickly without having to spend countless amounts of time waiting for the recommendations to flow into their news feed or having to spend time shuffling through irrelevant ads or results on Google. For example, if my sister wanted to surprise me and take me to dinner she could type my name into Nodat to see the video recommendations and pictures that I have reviewed to find out where to or not to take me. Or if someone is planning to move to Nashville and needed to choose a new dentist, daycare, hair stylist, etc, she could search those categroies in Nashville and scroll through the video recommendations created by real Nashville local customers and make a more informed choice before she even moves to Nashville. Making her transition to a new city easier. This is also a great feature for college students who move away from home.
  • Provides consistent marketing messaging capability. Businesses can create an ad on Facebook and choose to have it run on Nodat as well. They can also create an in-app coupon to compliment the ad offer they created on Facebook to increase ad engagement and conversion rates.

How we built it

  • iPhone App: Native app in Swift 4.0**
  • Android App: Native app in Java**
  • Website: Angular JS, PHP, MySQL**
  • Admin Panel: Angular JS, PHP, MySQL**

Challenges we ran into

Not having enough funds to build and grow quickly. When we first launched we launched in fifteen cities and we realized that was too big of footprint to pilot. So, we pulled back and focused our efforts on one market, Nashville, TN. It has been a challenge to reprogram user behaviors and get the members in the Facebook Community Groups to go to Nodat before posting a Facebook Recommendation post.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to have developed such an idea and concept and to have launched our first phase. We are proud to have over 500 active monthly users in the Nashville area. We are proud to have been accepted into our first startup incubator at the as well being accepted into the Facebook Start Bootstrap Program. We are proud of the growth on our social media channels.

What we learned

During our first phase we learned how not to promote and market an app. We learned that instead of looking at Nodat as just an app we should look at and treat it like a business. When we first started, we did not fully understand what we were building. After much research and development we realized that Nodat had the potential to serve as a local online community that promotes togetherness, families, friendships, and reality. We learned why consumers love Facebook recommendations. They would want real responses and relevant opinions from the people who live in their community. We learned who we are and what we are not. We learned that we are passionate about helping local business owners connect with the people in their community to increase their visibility, awareness, and chances for survival. We learned that consumers want to help the local businesses in their community. We learned that consumers are more likely to talk about a business or share their content if there is something of value in it for them. We learned that in this new advertising era consumers hold more power in more ways than one. They control the data, advertising, platforms, and engagement. The new way of marketing and connecting relies on customer data platforms, personalization, direct contact, consumer engagement, strong customer relationships, and localization. We also learned that there are a large number of local business owners who are not satisfied with the current local advertising options and are hoping for a more innovative and out-of-box options that will treat them fairly, care about their success, and effectively help them advertise, market, and grow their market presence, customer base, and bottom line. We learned that local business owners love the idea of playing local trivia with their customers and love the idea of a quid pro quo marketing concept.

What's next for Nodat

  • Continue development We will build features into the admin panel that will make it a self-serve localized customer data platform for local business owners to use to learn more information about the customers they communicate with through our app to improve their personalize push notifications, coupons, videos, and ads. Improve app features, improve design, and performance by adding a commenting option to videos, pictures, and reviews. Integrate Facebook ads monetization, sponsored banner ads, Top Results Search Ads.
  • Create more local communities inside of the app We are currently building and promoting Nodat Nashville our goal is to have other local communities like Nodat Vegas, Nodat New York, Nodat Los Angeles_, etc.
  • Coin the term Nodat and make it an action word. We want everyone Nodat before hiring a contractor, visiting a restaurant, choosing a dentist, daycare, or stylist! Nodat will become an extension of Facebook. Businesses will use Nodat as a guide for casting their nets when fishing for new customers by tapping into their current customers personal friends & family networks when customers are rewarded for sharing their videos and pictures on Facebook & Twitter.
  • Fully develop and introduce our theory of "Community-based Marketing". We know that consumers hold all the power in this new age and we know that local businesses depend on their customers to spread the word for them to increase awareness within the community. We believe if businesses can get their customers to partner with them to help them grow it will put more power behind word of mouth marketing and create a new more effective concept called "Community-based Marketing."
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