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Home Tech Pros Should Get Hyperlocal With Nextdoor.com, Other Neighborhood Networks

Security dealers and home-tech integrators should try Nextdoor.com to generate hyperlocal business, referrals and repeat customers in a very efficient manner.

Home Tech Pros Should Get Hyperlocal With Nextdoor.com, Other Neighborhood Networks
Nextdoor.com user sells a new Nest Hello video doorbell because it "didn't work" with existing wiring. A home-tech pro could jump in and "make it work," earning a new customer and a local reputation in the process.

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · December 28, 2018

I’ve recently discovered Nextdoor.com, the “free private social network for your neighborhood community.” It’s a platform for neighbors – you have to verify your residence and use your real name – to chat about stuff and sell things.

Mostly it’s about bashing the city council, pleading for the return of escaped pets, celebrating found pets, selling stuff, announcing road closures, promoting special events, and reporting “suspicious” persons who don’t look like they belong in the neighborhood.

And, especially during the holidays, neighbors use Nextdoor to curse the thieves that stole packages from the front porch.

Some victims post video from their doorbell cameras – usually some variation of a guy with a hoodie looking down, no face to be seen, and then walking out of view. More often, though, the listings are from people with no proof that someone swiped a package from the porch or a big check from the mailbox.

Integrators seem to be missing the low-hanging fruit: their immediate neighbors.

Where are the home-tech pros offering services for their neighbors? More telling, where are the neighbors recommending their “guy” for security? Nothing. Nada.

When we needed some trees cut and trimmed, we called a guy named Reuben because everyone on Nextdoor mentioned him, and he posted before-and-after pics of his proud work. He gave us an estimate for a fairly substantial job, and we hired him on the spot, without seeking competitive bids. The neighborhood raves were good enough for us.

Reuben and team were great. I told a couple of friends about him, and they hired him as well. They have since told some of their friends as well. And so on and so on. Reuben now owns our neighborhood, and the adjoining neighborhood, and the neighborhood next to that one ….

Click for Nextdoor slideshow: How home-tech pros might participate and prosper

Why can’t a security dealer or A/V specialist own the neighborhood in the same way?

Dealers do fairly well networking with local communities in rather formal settings – church, PTA, home builder associations, CEO networking groups, nonprofit associations, and the like. But they seem to be missing the low-hanging fruit: their immediate neighbors.

A platform like Nextdoor allows pros to participate in their community … as neighbors. It’s an efficient way to engage with future customers (and friends) in a casual environment where people chat about lost pets, best tamales in town … and neighborhood security.

I trust my verified neighbors more than I trust a bunch of anonymous reviewers on Yelp or Angie’s List – doubly so for services as personal as home security.

Here’s what I would try if I were a home-tech integrator or alarm dealer:

  1. Sign up for Nextdoor.com in your neighborhood.
  2. Engage as usual, like any other neighbor. Bonus points if you find a lost puppy.
  3. Look for opportunities to comment on your areas of expertise, for example, when someone laments a stolen package, seeks a “handyman” for mounting a TV or installing lights, or sells a vintage stereo system … that you could revive with a turntable and modern speakers.
  4. Ask for client recommendations, and post your own before/after photos (with permission) of local jobs and the happy clients if possible.
  5. Incentivize every single employee to participate in their own Nextdoor communities.
  6. Try new things: Selling inventory … installation available; Why video doorbells can be tough to install; Tips for selecting outdoor TVs; Installing outdoor speakers in XYZ neighborhood this week (25% off in this neighborhood, this week only) ….

Get Hyperlocal!

Nextdoor.com is the leading hyperlocal engagement platform currently, but others are emerging. Ring (now owned by Amazon) is trying something similar with Ring Neighbors. Comcast had EveryBlock but sold it to Nextdoor this year.

Google has tested a local service called Bulletin, and more recently a new hyperlocal social app called Neighbourly. Thousands of private, hyperlocal neighborhood groups are popping up on Facebook, but the platform hasn’t managed to copy Nextdoor’s model.

There’s Nebenan in Germany, Hoodi in Dubai, and more to come as hyperlocal social networking becomes the next big thing. 

Get engaged. Get your employees engaged. Now is a great time to get hyperlocal.



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Security · Business · Sales & Marketing · News · Blogs · Doorbell · Marketing · Nest · Ring · Security · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by highfigh on December 30, 2018

BTW- that Nest ad is a great example why people who don’t understand how things work shouldn’t try to DIY- not only did they go past the return period, they’re selling the item to someone who may think it still comes with a warranty. It doesn’t. The Ring ad is a good example of someone who doesn’t know how to adjust the settings. Good opportunities for someone who does this as a hobby, but for a business that charges by the hour and has at least one company vehicle, charging shop rate to change a few settings or sell the doorbell chime module for a Nest isn’t what the customer wants to hear- they think we should only charge for the time it takes.

Posted by highfigh on December 30, 2018

You’ll never understand unless and until you work for others as some kind of contractor (this applies to anyone, even someone who cuts the grass or shovels snow). It’s one thing to do it as ‘the neighborhood kid’ but as a business, it becomes something else.

While some are looking for work that’s done professionally and maybe better than what they had had in previous experiences, many are looking for work done for less, because “We live in the same neighborhood, so it will be discounted, right?”. I have gotten work from Neighborhood.com, but nothing in my immediate area- the looks from me stating my labor rate to people who live near me tells the whole story and I’m not the most expensive, by any means.

There’s also the issue of the people on that or any other social media site- some people are odd, weird, creepy and truly strange- we have one who sends private messages to argue about things from threads that were closed because of their posts, start conversations as if we’re old friends and my favorite, “We should get together”. That also means that they know where I live (to the extent of any info I have included in my profile. I don’t want people coming here to tell me that their cable box isn’t working, something else is wrong or just to ask questions and I certainly don’t want anyone coming here, thinking that I want them to visit.

While it might be good to gain more business, it would also mean I’m not available to my past customers in the way they like- doing an occasional hang & bang, a doorbell or a small camera job for a local WILL NOT take me from my other customers, but I would consider it if I could find a helper to grow the business to the point where the added overhead is justified and I don’t want to see or hear “Just hire someone”, either. Comments like that just show complete ignorance of the cost of being an employer.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 28, 2018

jmcdermott—Glad you discovered a new outlet. Take some time with the site. Most of the stuff is comical (as I mentioned in response to Spivr, but depending on your neighborhood, there could be good opportunities for gaining clients and an even more substantial opportunity for “owning the neighborhood.”

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 28, 2018

Hi, SpivR—Yes indeed, I’ve spent a lot of time on the site, as mentioned in the blog. I’ve been studying posts and comments and the apparent success of contractors who engage with the community there. I also mentioned there’s a whole lot of junk on the site—I mean, how can so many pets in one neighborhood go missing?!

But I also gave my own example of using Ruben for a $1,000 tree job, going off nothing but comments on Nextdoor. We didn’t haggle. We didn’t seek second opinions or competitive bids. We just said OK to his suggestions and his price, and that was that.

Every sales and marketing effort will deliver a whole bunch of hooey. In some cases you hone the effort to yield better results. In other cases you drop the effort and move on. In the case of nextdoor.com, I personally find it mostly laughable, sometimes interesting, often useful, and NEVER a time suck. Some of your associates might be on the site, and could take advantage of any opportunities. IN any case, it’s free, and I see no reason not to explore its potential and get a better understanding of “hyperlocal social networking.”

There are major secondary benefits for amassing a large a following in a small geographical area, or “owning the neighborhood.”

Posted by SpivR on December 28, 2018

Good armchair quarterbacking, but have you actually been on Next-door and looked at the discussions?

It has the most bottom-feeder won’t-spend-a-penny mentality of consumers.  You would be better of trolling Craigslist.

If I want to know the latest “crazy man wandering around the neighborhood” alerts, it might be a good place to visit, but unless you are looking for “hang and bang” $50 jobs, forget it.

Posted by jmcdermott1678 on December 28, 2018

Great find, Julie!  Thanks for the tip. I can see a lot of uses for this, and gets away from the chaos that is Facebook.

Posted by jmcdermott1678 on December 28, 2018

Great find, Julie!  Thanks for the tip. I can see a lot of uses for this, and gets away from the chaos that is Facebook.

Posted by SpivR on December 28, 2018

Good armchair quarterbacking, but have you actually been on Next-door and looked at the discussions?

It has the most bottom-feeder won’t-spend-a-penny mentality of consumers.  You would be better of trolling Craigslist.

If I want to know the latest “crazy man wandering around the neighborhood” alerts, it might be a good place to visit, but unless you are looking for “hang and bang” $50 jobs, forget it.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 28, 2018

Hi, SpivR—Yes indeed, I’ve spent a lot of time on the site, as mentioned in the blog. I’ve been studying posts and comments and the apparent success of contractors who engage with the community there. I also mentioned there’s a whole lot of junk on the site—I mean, how can so many pets in one neighborhood go missing?!

But I also gave my own example of using Ruben for a $1,000 tree job, going off nothing but comments on Nextdoor. We didn’t haggle. We didn’t seek second opinions or competitive bids. We just said OK to his suggestions and his price, and that was that.

Every sales and marketing effort will deliver a whole bunch of hooey. In some cases you hone the effort to yield better results. In other cases you drop the effort and move on. In the case of nextdoor.com, I personally find it mostly laughable, sometimes interesting, often useful, and NEVER a time suck. Some of your associates might be on the site, and could take advantage of any opportunities. IN any case, it’s free, and I see no reason not to explore its potential and get a better understanding of “hyperlocal social networking.”

There are major secondary benefits for amassing a large a following in a small geographical area, or “owning the neighborhood.”

Posted by Julie Jacobson on December 28, 2018

jmcdermott—Glad you discovered a new outlet. Take some time with the site. Most of the stuff is comical (as I mentioned in response to Spivr, but depending on your neighborhood, there could be good opportunities for gaining clients and an even more substantial opportunity for “owning the neighborhood.”

Posted by highfigh on December 30, 2018

You’ll never understand unless and until you work for others as some kind of contractor (this applies to anyone, even someone who cuts the grass or shovels snow). It’s one thing to do it as ‘the neighborhood kid’ but as a business, it becomes something else.

While some are looking for work that’s done professionally and maybe better than what they had had in previous experiences, many are looking for work done for less, because “We live in the same neighborhood, so it will be discounted, right?”. I have gotten work from Neighborhood.com, but nothing in my immediate area- the looks from me stating my labor rate to people who live near me tells the whole story and I’m not the most expensive, by any means.

There’s also the issue of the people on that or any other social media site- some people are odd, weird, creepy and truly strange- we have one who sends private messages to argue about things from threads that were closed because of their posts, start conversations as if we’re old friends and my favorite, “We should get together”. That also means that they know where I live (to the extent of any info I have included in my profile. I don’t want people coming here to tell me that their cable box isn’t working, something else is wrong or just to ask questions and I certainly don’t want anyone coming here, thinking that I want them to visit.

While it might be good to gain more business, it would also mean I’m not available to my past customers in the way they like- doing an occasional hang & bang, a doorbell or a small camera job for a local WILL NOT take me from my other customers, but I would consider it if I could find a helper to grow the business to the point where the added overhead is justified and I don’t want to see or hear “Just hire someone”, either. Comments like that just show complete ignorance of the cost of being an employer.

Posted by highfigh on December 30, 2018

BTW- that Nest ad is a great example why people who don’t understand how things work shouldn’t try to DIY- not only did they go past the return period, they’re selling the item to someone who may think it still comes with a warranty. It doesn’t. The Ring ad is a good example of someone who doesn’t know how to adjust the settings. Good opportunities for someone who does this as a hobby, but for a business that charges by the hour and has at least one company vehicle, charging shop rate to change a few settings or sell the doorbell chime module for a Nest isn’t what the customer wants to hear- they think we should only charge for the time it takes.