Nextdoor might just herald the next wave of social networks

Written by on June 20, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments

By littleny / Shutterstock.com

It is not only Amazon that is reversing a trend. A not-so-new social network is gaining ground across North America and Europe. Called Nextdoor it is about regaining the feeling of local community that seems to be disappearing with some other ‘social’ networks we could mention.

Sign up to Nextdoor and the first thing it does is find the neighbourhood you live in. Admittedly it was awkward to find our neighbourhood in Edinburgh, as the default settings are all in the States, but it worked.

What is different about Nextdoor is that it is all about your real neighbourhood. You can do the obvious things like ask for advice for vets, cleaners, electricians – all of which is useful – but it has no real limits. You can promote a local sports match, concert or fund raising barbeque.

In fact, as CEO Nirav Tolia says, “if you lose your dog, your online friends can give you sympathy and share the post, but your neighbours will help you find it”. It is, as Tolia says, a utility, not about self-expression.

We fully admit, dinosaur-like, that we had not heard of Nextdoor until Reuters reported its launch in Germany. But the concept, at least, seems both timely and relevant.

We have been saying for a while that the age of the smaller, community based social network is coming. We have also been saying that the age of the larger, faceless one is fading.

It is now accepted that Facebook, for example (as overheard in a marketing meeting) ‘is for old people’. It is also sad that we have watched Facebook go from social network to commercial network to anti-social network in little over a decade.

The success of Nextdoor will depend on the dynamic of individual neighbourhoods. In some, it could be a vibrant and compelling tool. In others, it will remain the domain of people looking for a baby sitter.

Presumably there is a game plan to monetise the platform at some point and it is likely that the model will be based on local ads for local people. In fact, access to a local community might encourage larger providers of, say, communications services to offer a more local, friendly service, perhaps discounts for particular blocks of flats. Plugging into this tool could actually help companies become more efficient. A message from the boiler maintenance company that says ‘we are in your area next Thursday, click here for an appointment and a discount’ makes a lot of sense. Certainly more sense than the shotgun approach taken by the big boys.

As long as the monetisation strategy is based on common sense and a light touch, Nextdoor and other social networks like it just might be the next wave in the social network saga. And more relevant than the goliaths that dominate at the moment.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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