Nextdoor connects neighbours. The hyperlocal social networking platform promotes community and connectivity. It was launched in 2011, and is currently available in 11 countries.
Users who join Nextdoor are placed in a neighbourhood based on their postal/zip code. Once they have access, they can join groups, share posts, create events, sell items, make recommendations and find local businesses.
Who is Nextdoor for?
Owners and residents
HOA members can find each other through Nextdoor, send friends a wave or start private conversations.
Small businesses can keep valuable customers in the loop about promotions, sales, new items, revised business hours, etc. They can also connect with new customers who live in the area.
Non-profits can easily engage with the people who need their services or support most. They can also find support from donors nearby.
Brands may provide locally relevant products and services that improve people’s daily lives.
What is Nextdoor used for?
Similar to Facebook or LinkedIn, people can share news, updates, photos and videos about anything. New neighbours can introduce themselves, businesses can post about special promotions, and owners can ask for help finding a missing pet. These posts are seen by everyone else in your neighbourhood. Like Facebook, users can like, comment on and share posts.
If there’s a block party, meeting, educational class or other social event, users can let their neighbours know about it on Nextdoor.
The safety section is a separate space where users can share contact information for police and fire departments, and other departments that provide similar services.
People have also shared surveillance video of their packages being stolen from their front porches, and posted about criminal activity in the area (bike thefts and car vandalism).
Currently, neighbours are sharing information about where and how to register for COVID vaccines, but this section can also be used to help with emergency and disaster planning.
Buying and selling
There is a “for sale & free” section that lets members buy and sell items. Users will find everything from furniture to tutoring services to vehicles here. Users can also browse in just their neighbourhood, or look around in nearby neighbourhoods as well.
Business updates and recommendations
Local businesses can connect with and make themselves visible to people who are most likely to be repeat customers. Members can search for massage therapists, restaurants, plumbers and more. Businesses can share updates, and customers can recommend the businesses that they like the most.
Nextdoor is free, and can be accessed from a computer or its mobile app. Users are asked to enter their first and last names, and postal/zip code. Before gaining access, a new user must verify their address by entering a code that is sent to them via text or traditional mail. Note that Nextdoor does not send invitation letters to P.O. Boxes, so if you don’t receive mail at your physical address, you will need to verify your address by phone.
After that, users will need to grant the platform permission to allow location access to verify their address.
Instances where Nextdoor has been helpful to HOA members
Most HOAs could not rely on Nextdoor alone to fulfil communication and document-sharing needs. However, since it is similar to other familiar social media platforms, and is designed to promote community building, owners may prefer to use Nextdoor for certain situations.
Nextdoor partnered with the CDC and American Red Cross to help distribute information related to COVID-19 to neighbourhoods. Nextdoor also partnered with Walmart to allow users who had a higher risk of suffering from COVID-19 complications to request shopping assistance.
Nextdoor reported an 80% increase in user engagement during March 2020, especially in hotspot areas. The ability to communicate digitally with locals who were going through a similar experience made Nextdoor convenient and helpful.
Nextdoor has been working with Vote.org since 2018 in an effort to connect Americans to local poll locations. Users can also share whether they have voted or plan to vote.
With quick access to election information, Nextdoor may help persuade users to get out and cast their ballot.
Nextdoor reports increased activity during disasters. For example, in 2017, the company offered its services to FEMA to facilitate the delivery of geotargeted emergency and disaster preparedness alerts through the platform.
Boards are cautioned to use Nextdoor wisely (or not at all)
Nextdoor can certainly be useful to HOA owners who want to know what’s happening in the larger community, but when it comes to specific HOA operations and communications, boards are advised to use a platform that they can customize and control.
Nextdoor only has so many functionalities, and unfortunately, it isn’t always used for good. Reports of “board bashing” or “manager bashing” are common, and some just use the platform to complain. Furthermore, even though members are supposed to use their real names, there is nothing stopping them from using an alias instead. So, you could have someone who doesn’t belong to your HOA receiving information that isn’t intended for them, or contributing to conversations that don’t concern them. It’s hard to know for sure if people really are who they say they are.
When it comes to information sharing, there have been problems with people sharing private information, such as gate codes, on the public platform.
Nextdoor has also experienced issues with racism and classism, and has been criticized for giving some users a place to spread conspiracy theories. Nextdoor is introducing a new anti-racism notification, which asks users to reconsider posting if it thinks the post or content may be offensive. It will give users the option to edit the post before it goes live, but users can simply ignore the notification.
As a best practice, boards and managers should stick with software like Condo Control. Only people who belong to the HOA will have access to the platform, sensitive information remains secure, and discussion forums can be moderated so that inappropriate or hurtful posts can’t be shared.
HOA management software that is designed specifically for individual HOAs (instead of predetermined neighbourhoods) offers better functionality to HOA communities. It understands the different roles and responsibilities of homeowners, board members, and HOA managers, and offers flexible features and solutions based on their different needs.
It also tackles different aspects of HOA living, including work orders, violation tracking, architectural change requests, and annual meetings. Condo Control is scalable and will grow with you. As you encounter new problems, we will find new solutions.
Nextdoor is an accessible and fun networking app that can help neighbours get to know each other better. While it cannot replace formal communication, it may serve as an additional networking outlet. Nextdoor allows users to find and share information that pertains to their neighbourhood, and it can be very useful. However, it is hard to maintain control on this platform. Users may lie about their identity, share incorrect information, or use Nextdoor to harass or bully others. Board members and managers are strongly encouraged not to use this platform for sharing HOA information, documents, or engaging with owners. HOA management software is a better tool for these types of things.