Four months after it landed on the West Coast, hyper-local Web site Backfence.com has established its first community site in the Midwest. The Evanston, Illinois, site will join Backfence’s community sites in the D.C. area (the site started in Reston, Virginia) and in San Francisco Bay Area communities such as Palo Alto.
Evanston is a particularly good match for Backfence because of an active community, a highly paid demographic, and the fact that it is a college town. The same factors make its recent move to Palo Alto a smart one. The community interaction, classifieds and user-generated news that constitute Backfence’s feature set in fact may prove to steer its expansion strategy toward college towns.
College town demographics and consumer behavior, combined with that of soccer mom-ridden suburbia, typify Backfence’s sweet spots. The company has stated publicly that next up are the Chicago-area suburbs of Skokie and Arlington Heights, but my feeling is that a Boston-area expansion is not too far away. We’ll have to wait and see.