Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours, with a little understanding…

But sadly, it seems we're a nation more comfortable ignoring each other than engaging in ever-so-slightly awkward chats on the street.

The newest social media network on the block, Nextdoor, is here to convince us otherwise.

Just launched in the UK, here’s everything you need to know about the platform.

What is Nextdoor?

Launched in 2010 in the US, Nextdoor describes itself as a private social network for neighbourhoods and communities.

It’s essentially like Facebook, but more about actually communicating with each other about real-life goings on – as opposed to posting selfies and cat videos.

Users can share updates and photos, and groups can be created in order to talk about specific subjects.

There’s even the opportunity to nominate a ‘neighbourhood lead’ – i.e. a person who takes on a leadership role within the community.

I don’t think they get to wear a badge, unfortunately.

Why do people use it?

In researching Nextdoor, I stumbled upon a nice bit of copy on the US site which sums up the motivation behind the platform.

Nextdoor sounds a bit like your mum encouraging you to make friends as a kid. 

Acting as a go-between for the community, it encourages conversation about everything from safety issues to general gossip.

It’s certainly been a success in the States. Now in 90% of neighbourhoods in the top 100 cities, it is hoping to replicate this in the UK.

Apparently, there has been some difficulty in determining neighbourhood boundaries, however it is kicking off with trials in around 500 different regions.

Is it easy to join?

Well, let’s see.

I don’t know many of my neighbours, and I’m pretty new to my area, so I decided to sign up.

To do so, I just needed to enter in my home and email address in order to find my area. Then, my name and password to finish the process. 

It was very quick and easy, but unfortunately, I didn't get much further than this point.

It appears I’m the very first in my area to sign up, which means I need to convince 10 of my neighbours within 21 days in order for my Nextdoor area to continue.

But wait – remember that I don’t actually know my neighbours (or their email addresses)? Hence why I joined in the first place.

Tricky.

Another point to note is that Nextdoor asks you to verify your identity with a unique code - either sent to your mobile phone or on a postcard to your home address.

This shows that privacy is (rightly) a big issue, and a reassuring sign that the company takes it seriously. 

Will it take off?

In theory, it all sounds fantastic. And apart from some controversy in the US, Nextdoor has certainly proved itself to be a success.

It is built on the fact that, despite being able to connect in more ways online, we are now less connected with people in real life. As a result, it aims to foster a sense of real belonging and community spirit in the everyday.

The only problem I foresee for the UK launch is related to where I hit my own stumbling block. 

Setting up a Nextdoor neighbourhood requires more dedication than just entering an email address. 

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, where no effort is required, it's not just a case of signing on and saying hi - Nextdoor relies on the motivation of communities to build and use the network. Likewise, it needs enough people to sustain it.  

If you're lucky enough to be invited, it could easily take off where you live, but not before somebody has done all the legwork.

That being said, this longwinded sign-up process is also what gives Nextdoor an edge when it comes to privacy - it at least reassures users that everybody is who they say they are.

With our lazy perceptions of social media, coupled with Britain’s stiff upper lip, it remains to be seen whether it'll encourage us to actually talk to our neighbours - but here's hoping.

Further reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 20 September, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

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Jeremy Pearmund, User Experience Architect at Connect IB

Just signed up and have the same problem as the reviewer - I don't know my neighbours so don't know their emails so can't invite them!

Nextdoor get round this by offering to send postcards to your neighbours addresses. You can also print and personalise a flyer to put through their doors. Sounds clever until you think about the amount of junk mail I put straight into the recycling bin. I think another approach is required - mass media advertising?

Hope it takes off in UK as building real neighbourhoods, trust in people and social networks in this increasingly online, home delivery, paranoid society we currently live in is a good thing - I think.

I might even get to know my neighbours names - only been hear 14 years.

almost 2 years ago

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Keith Greywood, Head of SEO at Surge

They could send a small leaflet pack to the original person. Put it through letterboxes with unique code for pre-verification and hey presto.

almost 2 years ago

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Melina Gardeazabal, eCommerce Manager at AXAEnterprise

I received 15 emails in just 3 months and I had no intention to become the neighbourhood leader. It's a great idea and I think it needs to be adjusted culturally to UK, where amount of emails will eventually put people off and giving away too much private information will become a blocker

over 1 year ago

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