If you’re not familiar with Nextdoor, here’s how they describe themselves:
Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free.
Understand this. Nextdoor is still in its infancy. There’s a ton of posts about lost animals and people selling junk and people complaining about stuff.
But if you stick around, if you invest a little, if you squint… you can start to see why I think Nextdoor has the potential to disrupt the dominance of Facebook, particularly among adults.
There’s something culturally interesting that could bring much needed change that’s worth watching here…
Here’s 3 Reasons
- Hyper Local Wins Over Hyper-Segmented – Facebook is built around connecting a global world with your now globalized friendships. What I love about Facebook is that I can stay connected with people I’ve known for a long time but aren’t close to my by proximity. Facebook also allows me to gather people around the world around things I care about. But this hyper-segmentation misses something very important– place. Facebook drives communities apart by encouraging people to talk to only who they want to and ignoring the rest. Nextdoor turns that on it’s head, sometimes forcing you to deal with the crazy cat lady on your block instead of complaining about her on Facebook to your college dorm mates. Just like in real life, proximity ultimately wins out because it impacts you on a daily basis whether you chose it or not. You can’t ignore the cat lady forever, right? You think you can… but ultimately you have to face her. Facebook has no mechanism for this. Sure, you could create a closed group for your neighborhood but you’d always have leaking because people might belong to their neighborhood, their old neighborhood, on and on. There’s power in hyperlocal that Facebook has engineered you away from.
- Normalizing the Weirdos Among Us – Nextdoor is in it’s infancy. So there are very annoying things… in some ways it’s become a joke in our house because we’ll see something, say a shopping cart on our block, and we’ll say “I give that a couple hours before someone reports in on Nextdoor.” Certainly, Nextdoor is giving a voice to the, um, more suspicious among us. But the long-term beauty of this is that it’s solving Facebook’s biggest problem among adults… the loud mouth, over-opinionated adults mouthing off without ever having to face the people they are popping off to. With Nextdoor you don’t have that luxury. If you mouth off about your conspiracy theories or post lunacy about Donald Trump or tell people they shouldn’t buy a purebred puppy because there are adoptable dogs at the shelter… there’s a VERY HIGH likelihood you’ll see that person at the grocery store or walk your dog by their house. And that “social filter” is much more powerful than Facebook’s mechanical filter of the “unfollow” button. I believe that as Nextdoor grows in popularity it’s going to normalize the weirdos. While hyper-segmentation has made people passionate about whatever sub-sub-sub-culture they have joined up with… to your neighbors you’re just the guy who doesn’t cut his grass or doesn’t recycle or needs to paint his shutters. When you know you might bump into someone in real life, you’re going to normalize that weirdness. At least that’s my theory!
- Governmental Partnerships – Here’s the real secret to why I think Nextdoor will get their foot in the door among adults. They are forming partnerships, most likely paid partnerships, with local government agencies to put government officials in direct contact with the people they are serving. Here in the San Diego area we see posts from a bunch of agencies and in the City of La Mesa the city is actually advertising their involvement. That direct connection to people we need access to is good for everyone, it’s making it so that “everyone” really needs to be on Nextdoor to keep up with what’s going on.
My Prediction? Facebook will either acquire Nextdoor or will launch a neighborhood feature in the next 12 months.
Have you tried Nextdoor? (If not, sign up here) Is it big in your area? What kinds of things are you seeing successful? And what kinds of things aren’t working, at all? Let me know in the comments.