On May 12, 2012 The New York Times posted an article “Meet Your Neighbors, if Only Online” detailing Nextdoor.com, a social network for the local neighborhood you live in. The site provides forums for members to communicate, a house by house map, a classifieds section, and a database for neighbor recommended local services.
To join one of Nextdoor.com’s local networks new members must provide proof of address, either via a current member’s confirmation, or a $.01 transaction to a credit card registered to a local address. Interior pages are private, listed information does not appear on search engine results, and there are currently no advertisements on the site.
The site seems to be competing with a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Craigslist, and LinkedIn. The article notes that advertising on the site has already become somewhat of a hot button issue, with some users for and some strongly against its inclusion. Much like Living Social, Nextdoor.com plans to enlist local businesses to provide members with special offers unavailable elsewhere.
The Nextdoor.com platform makes sense, as it combines products/services currently provided by a variety of social media sites. It has started by building a social network for your local neighborhood, but seems like it could easily grow and essentially take all aspects of a small town or community online.
A few questions to consider:
- If Nextdoor.com adds advertising, will Facebook see the site a direct competitor, and therefore pursue its acquisition? Where Instagram provided competition via photography sharing users, nextdoor.com seems to be competing with Facebook by focusing on a local community network.
- If not Facebook, will any of the other social media platforms see Nextdoor.com as a direct competitor/acquisition target?
- Is Nextdoor.com bad for building a sense of neighborhood community? Professor Robert Sampson (Harvard – Sociology) sees neighborhoods as a “network of acquaintances” “who share a working trust”. Will the ease of communicating with neighbors via Nextdoor.com facilitate that network, or deteriorate those unique relationships previously forged through proximity, familiarity, and day-to-day interaction?
- Exclusivity, the requirement that members live in the neighborhood seems to be the site’s selling point. However, Facebook eventually abandoned this approach, opting for maximum growth instead. Will Nextdoor.com face this same decision in the future?