http://www.kent.co.uk is a new website aimed at business and consumer audiences in the county of Kent in south east UK.
Kick Interactive specialise in creating bespoke website applications and jumped at the opportunity to work on the Kent.co.uk project. It’s the latest in a line of new niche social networking sites to have emerged over the last 12 months.
The site has been created using the free Google Maps API to integrate users’ personal data about their friends and favourite places with on screen mapping, creating a custom visual networking map for each user.
The resulting networking map is interactive - data such as friends, places and events can be toggled on or off the map, and clickable icons can be used to access more information about each element or initiate actions like joining groups or becoming a fan.
Due to the geographic focus of the site, the categories of data were intentionally broadened to include physical Places, which can range from a popular bar to a favourite beach or scenic spot.
The networking map also features suggested places, groups and events, which are intelligently matched to the users own interests based on a range of different criteria, from content keyword matching to postcode proximity and linked user behaviour.
User privacy and security have been carefully considered. The networking maps only display personal user icons to accepted friends, and there is an auto cut out of icons at closer zoom levels, so specific address locations can never be identified. Furthermore users can choose not to be displayed on the map at all.
The unique structure and navigation of Kent.co.uk presents a range of interesting commercial and marketing opportunities. Discussions are underway with a major chain of pubs to show their sites on networking maps with specially branded icons, and link their sites with other nearby data and events. Local business organisations are investigating using the site to operate private business to business networking groups linked to specific venues and events.
Kent.co.uk is currently undergoing a soft launch phase with new users being gained through targeted viral marketing to key user groups. A wider regional press launch will take place in the summer.