While giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have dominated our social sphere for years, another social media site has quietly been uniting neighborhoods. The app named Nextdoor allows users to create a network of those who live, work and play in their area. This has created is a unique opportunity to connect with others over restaurant recommendations, crime alerts and community garage sales. With over ten million users across the country, it’s quickly becoming one of the biggest social networks available.
To join the site, you have to verify both your identity and your address. This ensures that users are joining neighborhoods that they actually live in. An impressive 75% of U.S. neighborhoods are active on the site. Their website places a strong emphasis on community–they clearly strive to be the place where you can seek out a recommendation for a local mechanic, learn who installed the community garden and organize a holiday party.
However, recent changes could upset that “hometown” dynamic. Nextdoor has announced plans to begin making recommendations for local businesses based on user input and to also allow businesses to make their own accounts. While access to more information is often a good thing, one can only hope this will not impact the current organic feeling of the information shared.
Nextdoor is striving to tackle some other criticism they have received as they have grown since their 2010 launch. The site allows users to report criminal activity in their area but many have noticed there seems to be an element of racial profiling that occurs alongside these reports. Nextdoor has launched plans to combat this with filters and and updated community guidelines. The impact seems to have been positive and effective–a sign Nextdoor is listening and using innovation to problem solve–something those social media giants often fail to do.
As with any other social media site, Nextdoor can occasionally jump the shark when certain users begin to dominate the platform. Drama over dog waste, HOA debates, or perceived attacks about lawn care can derail what is otherwise a really helpful newsfeed. As Nextdoor grows and improves, they will certainly go the way of Facebook and allow you to customize what you see. Opting into babysitter recommendations and out of your neighbor’s feud over Christmas lights is certainly appealing to the average user.
Overall, Nextdoor is a great way to learn who lives, well–next door. It’s a good way to find out what issues are brewing in Frederick, like projected construction or the local political campaigns. It offers users a different approach to social media, one that feels a bit more “old school” since its about connecting locally to those who are working alongside each other to create a neighborhood they can be proud of.