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Hyperlocal Social Network Nassya Brings Cairo's Neighborhoods Online
In old Egyptian movies, women used to gossip on their balcony with their neighbors throughout the morning. Today, the same scene takes place on the internet instead of the TV screen, on neighborhood talk site Nassya.
RAYA Social Media Company launched the social network in late September to regain lost aspects of very local interaction and bring people together who share common interests due to their geographic proximity.
The social network was first established in the Maadi district - a neighborhood in southern Cairo, to help residents communicate, get to know one another, and swap information relevant to their neighborhood.
On Nassaya, you might stumble upon a neighbor talking about a street experience they had, someone inquiring about a common workspace, or a third person promoting a concert or sports tournament to be held at the club. You might even happen upon a sweets shop announcing a new item they are making and inviting neighbors for a sample. There is no limit to shared interests; the platform can be used for the exchange of any variety of local information.
The website’s design is flexible, attractive, and easy to browse. You can download photos and videos or just “shout” to others. It includes ten different sections offering the most appealing features: chats, faces (profiles of people known in the area), flea markets (where unwanted items are sold), food and beverage, nightlife spots, calendar of events, memories of Maadi (historical sites, swimming class, etc.), the smarts spot (health, fitness), and an online store for buying goods that are on sale or newly available in the area.
Could Nassya Become an Egyptian Alternative to Facebook?
"We’ve got to be realistic. We’re not an alternative to Facebook, not even its competitors; we have our own network that includes everything the locals need," says Mireille Barsoum, the Marketing Communication Manager at RAYA Social Media.
Some Nassya youth now walk around Maadi in their white shirts, carrying the Nassya logo and introducing the week’s campaign, distributing car stickers that read, “Smile to your neighbor every morning.”
The site has also run local campaigns to raise awareness. “Don’t double-park,” was one such campaign that encouraged residents to respect street signs, pedestrians, and parking rules.
"The point is for everyone to feel that they are a part of a community, very localized, in a way that facilitates connection, communication, and networking," Barsoum explains. "Each use rhas their own corner, whether they are individuals or shops.”
The business model lies in the local trade, where the Nassya team strives to offer communication services and different forms of support between shops and businesses and their clients.
Before the end of this year, Nassya plans to expand to two neighborhoods in addition to Maadi. Considered the first social platform of Raya Social Media, Nassya aims to launch additional social communication networks as it grows.
Hanan Solayman is a freelance journalist and founder of “El Mandara”, a local news portal in Egypt. She studied Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. You can connect with her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hananzaz.
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