Old Concepts Meet New Media to Build Community

Building community is both easier and more difficult with the constant presence of social media in our lives. The power of tools like Facebook groups can build meaningful relationships between like-minded people from near and far. The ability to live quietly behind the mask of a curated Instagram feed also makes it possible to live without genuinely connecting with other people. When we don’t connect with our neighbors and peers in an authentic way–whether it’s online or offline–we can’t build community. According to Vicki Coleman, host of Front Porch Fridays, that’s a problem.

“We used to know our neighbors by name and we could lean on each other when we needed anything,”  says Coleman, realtor with Front Porch Realty, brokered by eXp Realty.

Realtors were often the people who knew everyone, Coleman says. That’s why she pursued real estate to begin with.

“I wanted to be a connector between places and people,” she says.

As she’s watched the real estate market morph and transform over the years, social media has become a major part of the profession. She wanted more, though. She wanted to build community in a more meaningful and impactful way. Coleman decided to create the solution to the problem she saw. She leaned on the classic concept of community built on front porches. She brought the front porch feel to Facebook. Front Porch Fridays was born.

“We wanted to get people out giving and getting involved,” she says.

Coleman and co-host Dawn Roy invited a variety of small businesses and nonprofits to share a little bit about their work on camera. The interview format was casual, laid back, and personal.

Coleman first filmed the show using her iPhone. After the first season, Coleman reached out to Sam Anderson of Enso Media Firm. He helped reimagine the concept as Front Porch Fridays grew its viewership and following.

“Enso loves being part of anything that’s different,” Anderson said. “When we first heard the idea from Vickie, nobody else in the area was doing it. They were doing something cool for the community and we wanted to be a part of it.”

When Anderson joined Coleman to film the series, his team changed the format from from one wide-angle lens interview format to a two-camera set-up. The new episodes also featured candid shots of organizations, businesses and people in action, which further helped bring their stories and mission to life.

Kristie Smith, Director of Development of FETCH a Cure, was a guest during the second season using this new format.

“I had seen some episodes of Front Porch Fridays and I loved how they were very casual, but asked some great questions, giving the highlighted organization an opportunity to share what was most important to them,” she says. “Any time we can reach a new audience, or talk about some part of our organization that not everyone is familiar with, is a good thing.”

The episode received more than 1,000 views. Smith says she received a lot of written feedback via Facebook after the video went live. Many people hadn’t heard about FETCH a Cure, she says.

“We just hope that we reached someone at the right time, to help them make an informed decision regarding their pet’s cancer treatment,” Smith says.

During a summer hiatus, Coleman and Enso Media Firm’s team are preparing to launch Season 3 of Front Porch Fridays. They’ll transform the format of the show even more. Guests co-hosts, new content, and creative filming will make Front Porch Fridays a stronger voice for community members who want to connect

“The combination of integrating business with community partnerships, it is a best of both worlds meeting for us,” Anderson said. “We’re excited to be a part of it.”

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Megan Wilson is the founder of the Sweet Sauce Blog, a platform designed to spark your fashion imagination, inspire you to try new recipes, travel to new places, and refine your daily routines.