Nextdoor.com and Emergency Alerts

Nextdoor-article

If you’re not familiar with the social media platform Nextdoor.com, we think you should look into it. Nextdoor could expand your reach when sending out emergency alerts, encouraging residents to prepare and getting information out on recovery resources and efforts. 

Nextdoor is a social media platform that is focused on where a person lives and the neighborhood or community they live in. A person registering on Nextdoor has to provide their specific address which the company claims to then verify. Postings are focused on local resources, news, events and issues. Some examples:

  • Lost pets;
  • Contractor referrals – either looking for a local contractor or offering opinions about one; 
  • Crime reports, such as break-ins, suspicious persons, etc.
  • Wildlife sightings (I saw a lot of bear sightings when I lived in Asheville, NC.)
  • Local issues: schools, zoning, etc. 

The company claims that nearly 1/3rd of US households use their app. And that might be true. The publicly available web traffic sites such as Semrush.com and Trackalytics shows that they have millions of visitors and page views. We’re also aware of a few counties where their user counts imply about 40+% of households and some counties where it’s obviously much lower. 

Nextdoor offers “Public Agency” accounts to emergency managers, public safety officials and other agencies at the municipal, county and state levels. The accounts are free and enable you to post messages to all users within your jurisdiction or to select specific neighborhoods as those are defined by the company. There’s also a point and radius map selection tool, although we’ve haven’t seen it work.  

Many different kinds of agencies use Nextdoor for communication. We’ve seen general county newsletters, traffic updates from the DOT, sanitation pickup notices and more.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, your message goes to everyone in your area who has signed up for Nextdoor, which means you could potentially reach a lot more people than you can on other social media sites. And Nextdoor has an “Alert” category – and a separate “Safety” category – that allows you to post messages that should get more attention. 

We’ve been posting messages for clients on Nextdoor in order to encourage residents to sign up for Hyper-Reach. Those messages have been reasonably effective – adding hundreds of signups over time. 

We think Nextdoor is especially appealing to emergency managers in suburban and urban areas and probably less interesting in rural areas. The last three places I’ve lived (Charlotte and Asheville, NC and Staunton, VA) all have pretty active groups of people posting and reacting to posts. But we’ve also seen less populated areas with very little activity. Since the accounts are free, it’s an inexpensive and relatively easy way to expand your reach into the community, so it’s probably worth your agency’s time to at least check it out for your city or county. 

Some agencies have had such good success with Nextdoor that they actively encourage citizens to register for the service. 

We’ve been working on developing an integration with Nextdoor, so that messages sent from Hyper-Reach can also go to Nextdoor, similar to the integrations we have with Facebook, Twitter and other social media. And we’d like to know if you’re interested in that feature.

If you’re interested in Nextdoor, you can help us by completing this survey and passing it on to your peers: https://forms.gle/JbLdueJ4t46yNeKk8.  It asks questions about your familiarity and use of Nextdoor, as well as your interest in different integration options to make Nextdoor work well with other emergency notification systems. 

And if you want to apply for a Public Agency account, you can do that at this link: https://nextdoor.com/agency/apply

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