NextDoor, the well-funded neighborhood discussion platform, is eying deeper relationships with local merchants and service providers (and monetization). VP of Business Development Craig Donato provided details and insights about the network this week at Borrell’s Local Online Advertising Conference West in San Francisco.
Donato noted that NextDoor is up to almost 116,000 neighborhoods of 500-750 households – more than double last year’s count. The vast majority of NextDoor’s networks are in the U. S., but NextDoor is expanding internationally, with services running in the Netherlands since February, and U.K. since September.
As with other social media, neighborhood penetration tends to build rapidly over time after reaching a quorum, says Donato. In the first year of operation, neighbor penetration typically runs at eight percent. After three years, 33% of neighbors are typically using the network.
Much of the activity at NextDoor is driven by service and business recommendations – which portends well for commercializing the service. Sixty-seven percent of members have shared recommendations with neighbors, while 76% of members have been influenced by a neighbor’s recommendation.
Recommendations represent 26% of postings; classifieds represent 19%; crime and safety represents 16%; Lost and Found items represent 8%; free items represent 8%; while Event notifications represent 7%.
Donato, calling NextDoor a “hyperlocal Angie’s List” that is “quietly becoming a local search engine,” notes that Next Door has a real legup in getting recommendations for services and businesses, from hiring a plumber to buying insurance or getting a dishwasher.
Until recently, however, none of the recommendations have been organized in an easy-to-find directory. Now, they’re all being tagged under “Neighborhood Favorites” headings. NextDoor is also tracking sentiment and engagement (replies, click, respond) and sharing it with the local providers, who otherwise can’t see inside the internal neighborhood activity. Eighty-five percent of recommendations tend to be positive. Engagement rates run about 6%.
The feedback is one way to build relationships with the local providers. Now, they also have an opportunity to build up their profiles. They can claim pages; customize their proiles; use tools to drive word of mouth; and tools for soliciting recommendations via Facebook, Twitter or email.
All that’s free, for now. But local providers can also inject themselves into the middle of a thread. In May, it started a native advertising program with sponsored posts and email sponsorships. The posts are placed in the feed as the second post – a highly visible position.
The company is also beginning to work with brands that have a neighbor-like presence. Frigidaire, for instance,” has started running native advertising that posts dinner recipes and encourages members to “start a freezer club with neighbors.”
The Frigidaire campaign has 86% positive sentiment and a high engagement rate of 12.8%. Donato is also focused on providing other relevant content to drive more read-thru and local relationships. NextDoor now has 1,600 relationships with local utilities, as well as police and fire departments. It also has content relationships set with Hearst and McClatchy that are “seeing twice the engagement of other posts.”