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.
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 ….
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:
- Sign up for Nextdoor.com in your neighborhood.
- Engage as usual, like any other neighbor. Bonus points if you find a lost puppy.
- 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.
- Ask for client recommendations, and post your own before/after photos (with permission) of local jobs and the happy clients if possible.
- Incentivize every single employee to participate in their own Nextdoor communities.
- 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) ….
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.
Get engaged. Get your employees engaged. Now is a great time to get hyperlocal.