Shrewd marketers and small businesses could be split into two camps when it comes to new social platforms: “Here’s a platform that could help market me connect to new customers” or “Here’s another social platform that will take up too much of my time!”
Fortunately though, whichever outlook you have, there’s actually something for both camps with Nextdoor.
But firstly, let’s recap…
What Is Nextdoor?
Nextdoor is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. While platforms like Facebook are designed to help you connect to friends and family all around the world, Nextdoor is essentially the opposite, as it focuses on connecting you with the neighbors in your street and in turn build a greater sense of community.
The whole premise of Nextdoor is about sharing recommendations, things for sale and a local crimewatch. It’s not about sharing videos of cats, it’s about sharing information on lost cats.
To get started on Nextdoor, you’ll need to sign up using your real name and address. This is the real draw for Nextdoor as it allows the platform to be populated with real people rather than any bots (watch out Facebook!).
Setting Up A Business Profile On Nextdoor
Thankfully, signing up is very easy. The interface is tidy and clear, particularly in comparison to Facebook where it can feel like there’s a minefield of options, tick boxes, and settings to configure.
In order to set up a business account, first, make sure you’ve signed up with a personal account and then head to Nextdoor to claim your business or set up a new listing.
When you’re signing up for a business account you’ll be presented with two options: Are you an individual or business? Unless you’re a freelancer or running a really micro business, then I’d recommend the latter.
As a small business owner, you’ll be able to see recommendations, track your recommendation reach, have your customers write recommendations, and reply to recommendations. Basically, just… recommendations!
Your business, to begin with, won’t actually be visible in the local community. Neighbors will only be able to see you once you have one recommendation. Nextdoor will provide you with a link that you can email to your customers to request a review.
How Can I Advertise On Nextdoor?
Currently paid advertising on Nextdoor is very limited. For freelancers, start-ups or small businesses we’ll have to check back at another time as there aren’t currently any paid advertising options. For larger companies however there are some possibilities, but these are on an enquire-only basis with a minimum spend of $25,000. I know – seems a little odd that a local-focused social platform is only letting big businesses advertise so far.
While there aren’t currently any paid advertising options for smaller businesses as of yet, don’t let that put you off. Nextdoor is rumored to be releasing an advertising platform, which, coupled with their unique sign-up process (i.e. no fake accounts!) could present a real goldmine opportunity for those of us without the big bucks. In future
So while there isn’t anything concrete yet, getting to grips with Nextdoor now, might just help you pounce quicker if those incredibly powerful ad options become available.
Business Options Are Limited
Compared to the way we’re used to with Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, Nextdoor is a little different. This is because with a business profile you don’t actually post to a news feed, instead, your business page is a little more static.
While at first, this may seem like a dead-end for business use, it does mean that Nextdoor remains more natural (where organic recommendations have a more positive effect) compared to a platform such as Facebook where adverts can swamp the network.
Despite that though, there are still lots of organic opportunities for local businesses on Nextdoor.
1. Get More Recommendations
To start with your business will need at least 1 recommendation in order for it to be visible to others. Thankfully when you set up your business profile, Nextdoor make it easy by providing you with a custom link that you can share to your customers and try to gain that one review you need.
But it shouldn’t stop there. While Nextdoor is another social platform we need to be on, it’s also one of the fastest growing. This means you may be able to get ahead of the curve and make the first move to be the most recommended business in your field, which is very possible and valuable.
2. Respond To Those Who Recommend You
There’s only a limited amount you can do with your business profile on Nextdoor, but responding to recommendations is something where you can actively engage. So, when someone takes the time to recommend you, this is a great official chance to respond and highlight your brand personality.
I’d really go over the top here – thank them, let them know how much their recommendation means and let them know a box of donuts is on its way (because public shows of affection are much more valuable as a business!).
3. Run A Local Event
Using your personal account you can add your events to the neighborhood calendar. Do be mindful of the type of events you can add to the calendar though. If you’re hosting a painting workshop or a free cooking masterclass, these are great examples of events that will benefit the community.
However more business-related events like a corporate networking party, while these can be added, you’ll want to make sure you uncheck the box that’s marked “announce to neighbors” – this is to ensure your announcement is in line with Nextdoor’s event policies. It will still be added to the neighborhood calendar, but it won’t spam the newsfeed.
4. Expand Your Reach With Employee Posts
This works especially well for small businesses. The idea is that if your business has a special offer available or perhaps a particular event, then you could (kindly!) ask your employees if they can share it with their network.
This works great if your staff are in a variety of different neighborhoods as you can expand your reach. But tread with caution here: you don’t want to violate Nextdoor’s policy guidelines. So make sure that your offer is not only highly relevant but also valuable too.
An extra tip here is to avoid formalities and make the announcement far more casual – in other words as if you were talking to your neighbors! For example: “Hi all, the little agency I work for is hosting a local networking event. It’s free to people in my neighborhood! Just drop me a line if you’d to come”.
5. Add Your Business Affiliation To Your Personal Profile
Simple enough but make sure you add to your personal profile where you work. This is a must if you’re a freelancer or one-man-band business. As we’re really limited with what we can do as a business on Nextdoor (particularly as the advertising program isn’t yet ready) this is a simple way to increase the visibility of your business.
6. Take An Active Part In The Neighborhood
No one likes that person at the party who just talks about themselves the whole time. If you’re only seen to be talking about your business then you’re not only going to get on people’s nerves but probably be reported by the community – not great when you live across the road from them.
So make sure you mix it up – if your neighbors are looking for recommendations on the best local florist or daddy day care center, then taking two minutes to help them out will start to get your name out there as a reliable and friendly source.
7. Recommend Your Own Business
Yes, this might seem a bit contradictory to what I’ve said so far, but when done considerately it can work well. Using the “I’m-a-small-local-business-helping-local-people” angle will help get around the shameless self-promotion.
Of course, providing an offer or a freebie will make your announcement even stronger. Just remember, Nextdoor is all about recommendations, so before you post just ask yourself “is this a helpful recommendation or shameless self-promotion?”.
So What’s The Deal?
Currently, Nextdoor is a limited channel. But, spending a few minutes now before it explodes, will give you an advantage. Setting up your business profile and asking your existing customers for a review is the least you can do. But for some, however, there’s a bigger opportunity here – a chance to be the #1 business in your field in your local area.
So, if you’re a local business, there’s one social media platform you cannot afford to ignore. It’s a digital town hall where word-of-mouth referrals and reviews spread like wildfire.
It’s not Facebook. It’s not Yelp.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the startup tools blog series Grow Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners, and by Ryan Davies of RCD Digital Marketing – a freelance digital marketer in Cambridge, UK.