Linking Chico locals

Robert Stigers

Photo By stacey kennelly

“Community” is a word that’s used often in Chico. But in today’s age, the concept of community is changing and extending into the virtual world. To bridge the gap between physical and online communities, web developer and Chico native Robert Stiger launched, a social-networking website that connects locals who share interests ranging from music and art to outdoor hobbies and political beliefs. The online community, which launched in fall 2009, is jam-packed with tools that allow users to interact through blogs, chat features and groups, as well as upload pictures, music, videos and more. But what makes the site different from other social networks is its use of discussion forums, where Chico locals can bounce ideas off of one another to share viewpoints on local politics and hot topics. This coming semester, Stiger plans to launch a marketing campaign to get Chico State and Butte College students involved in the site.

How is Chico Social different from other social-networking sites?

All the people on Chico Social should be local, for one thing, or they should be people who have lived in Chico. You can start groups and different things and you can meet up with people from Chico [in real life], and you don’t necessarily have to know them first. Chico Social is more of a community where you meet up with people you might not know otherwise, simply based on your interests.

What’s the site’s target audience?

It’s mainly younger people who are college-aged, but it is open to anyone. Anyone of any age who’s on the Internet and doing stuff locally.

How does one join?

There are two ways to join. You can fill out a normal form on the website to sign up. There’s also [a feature so] you can connect through Facebook. You just type in your Facebook username and password and it will import your photos and things from Facebook automatically.

What does the site offer businesses?

Businesses can set up with an actual location and address can set up a map to their business and get fans, as well as post videos and photos and things like that. Nonprofits that don’t have a physical address can create a group page, where they can also get fans and create discussions and schedule times to meet and things like that.

How would you like to see the site grow?

I think we need to increase the amount of business and the amount of interaction between members. If there’s a lot more activity, we could keep the site up-to-date on the most recent activities, events, politics and stuff.