(Missoula Current) A new social media tool made its official launch in Missoula this month, providing what its creator describes as a hyper-local tool in an otherwise saturated social media market.

Syann Stevens, the founder of JSJ International Inc. and creator of TAPMissoula, traced the platform's creation back to the pandemic in 2020 and the isolation it created.

"Our primary mission was to bridge the gap of personal and community isolation," said Stevens. "We want to create a safe, virtual and local community platform for individuals, existing networks, community organizations, and peer groups to stay connected."

Stevens, a University of Montana graduate student, said TAPMissoula looks to help organizations build their brand while allowing peer groups to increase their engagement. It also aims to help support groups expand their user base, all within “a clean, focused environment.”

The platform already has a local presence, including the Hellgate Venture Network, the Ghanaian International Students peer group, the Cambium Place apartment complex and the Montana Wood Products Association, among others.

While larger and more established social media networks employ a top-down approach and have come to dominate American dialog and debate, TAPMissoula looks to flip the model on its head with what Stevens described as a “bottom up” approach.

"We believe the community members directly impacted by social media should be operating those platforms,” she said. “Eventually, we would like to franchise into other cities in Montana."

Stevens said that could include TAPBozeman and TAPWhitefish, among others.

She added that TAPMissoula keeps local content local, which reduces content pollution. She said all forums are moderated and groups have designated administrators.