A location-based app that connects you with people in your area, NextDoor has been slowly gaining more and more attention since 2015. NextDoor allows you to connect with people within your direct and surrounding neighborhoods. Users can communicate to neighbors about the goings on in the area: lost pets, new stores opening or emergencies. You can ask your neighbors for help if you need it, you can sell things to your neighbors. Users can communicate about animals they see in the area. They can warn if there’s any danger – like coyotes or bears – nearby. NextDoor offers a great platform for businesses (especially brick and mortar) who want to connect with people in their area. Neighbors offer a great and loyal demographic and can help expand a growing business.
What Does NextDoor Offer That Other Socials Don’t?
In the olden days, a neighborhood was fundamental to a small business. Having customers nearby would only encourage a business’s success and promise steady income. Brick and mortar shops or at-home businesses still rely on or are crutched by thriving neighborhoods. They need people who want to buy something they can’t access online, or could access easier in real life. Many people, especially younger people, have shifted away from this mentality. All praise the new Lord and Savior, Online Shopping. New stores and businesses that operate or function online have become the new standard. Less and less often are people considering those nearest to them when they think of customers or clients. The convenience that online shopping offers trumps the prices often given in brick-and-mortar stores. Businesses most successful have shifted to online stores to eliminate the further cost of renting space.
Still, growing a business with those physically closest to you in mind is a solid business plan. Creating an at-home business to sell products online has become the modern version of setting up shop in a neighborhood. Hundreds of candle, crystal, makeup, clothing or other knick-knack companies have started in right within people’s homes. Using Instagram, TikTok or Facebook, people have found customers to sell to and massive outreach but have neglected those nearby. The logic being, that there’s more people to reach on social media than in your direct setting. Regardless, there are countless ways building up a real-life clientele can strengthen a business in multiple ways, including, but not limited to being sold to. The trust formed in real-life connections is not to be underestimated.
NextDoor offers you the ability to open your marketplace to people and get real person-to-person contact. The greater the personal connections formed? The stronger the client base. If a business owner’s concern is becoming friendly and close with their customers, NextDoor makes this easy. Not only does it offer people face-to-face delivery (if they’re within a close enough distance) and the personal touch that comes with that, but business owners can let people nearby have special deals for shopping with them. There are possibly hundreds of people in the area who want to buy with someone they know and trust. You’d buy from a friend before a company you don’t know. The connections a business can build by advertising on NextDoor for free might help as much as social media.
Word of mouth can help spread information about businesses. If someone recommends an item to a friend, they’re more likely to try it than if an advertisement does so. The neighbours nearby a business can help spread the word to their friends, and so on. Using personal connections in an online-world seems out of touch, but the personal connections missing from face-to-face and neighbourhood shops is sorely missed.
NextDoor is great for people who need the help of others in their business. If a business needs a worker, needs someone to help them ship, or needs administrative help, they have NextDoor. With those nearby, businesses and individuals can make posts and send out messages asking for those able. I’ve found tons of spaces have teenagers who are ready and eager to help in these capacities. Countless job posts receive dozens of responses. Having them close by, there is little commute time and a personal relationship between people. It’s much easier and quicker to hire someone close to a business than someone who has to commute.
The advertising made available on NextDoor is free and easy. Depending on the neighborhood and whats being sold, people nearby could want what’s available. Making a post immediately comes up on the feed of hundreds or thousands of people, depending on the area. Without trying, a business can instantly reach hundreds of people in their direct area who can buy from them without shipping costs. They can build a client base without spending any money on advertising online and to people who could become loyal customers. For small or growing businesses, this could mean a world of difference in their start.
NextDoor hasn’t always been perceived well. It got negative press because many of its users began using it to spread alt-right conspiracy theories, anti-vax propaganda or were racially profiling neighbors. On NextDoor, users can make posts if the see any suspicious or worrisome behavior in their area. If someone is porch stealing, which has gone up during the pandemic, then people can post it. Some users of the app have turned this helpful feature into racist profiling of their neighbors. In response, NextDoor added features that if a user is going to make posts about concerning people in the area, there must be more of a description besides race, and include pictures of people.
NextDoor is what you and your neighbors make of it. Massive, diverse cities like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles have had generally pleasant and informative responses to the app. It’s up to the users to keep their neighbors in check and report any harassment or spreading of information.
Regardless, there is money to be made on NextDoor for small businesses who want to develop in their area.
Featured image by Gleren Meneghin of UNSPLASH.COM