If you work in any form of comms role in UK Public Services, then the chances are you’re already familiar with the social networking site Nextdoor.
A place designed specifically for neighbours to interact, share information and build communities, it’s also more than likely that your organisation is already being mentioned there on the regular. It’s one of the new kids on the block when it comes to social media networks, founded in 2016, but its influence is growing with over 15,000 Nextdoor neighbourhoods now active across the UK.
Though the platform offers a niche opportunity for local councils, police, fire services, the NHS and other public services to engage with the communities they serve, many are struggling to do so in the same structured way they approach other networks, like Facebook and Twitter (X).
In this blog we’ll explore some of the network’s key features and the reasons why public sector organisations should prioritise their Nextdoor strategy.
What’s different about Nextdoor?🤔
One of the platform’s main uniques is that it requires users to prove where they live by confirming their postcode, an automatic geo-location or by receiving an invitation letter with a verification code before allowing them to join a ‘neighbourhood’. Unlike other platforms, users can’t see posts in neighbourhoods other than the one they are directly a part of. This ensures conversations are centred on the issues specific to that area and the organisations who choose to engage there can be sure they are talking to a very local audience.
All verified public service organisations on Nextdoor receive a green tick badge which will appear on their profile and all of their posts, so users can be sure the information they’re reading is from an official source. Users will be automatically subscribed to updates from local public organisations, and public services also have access to special tools like emergency alerts that are designed specifically to let residents know about time sensitive issues – from traffic updates and inclement weather warnings to police appeals for information.
Public services have the choice of posting content directly as a standalone organisation or by allowing select representatives to post updates themselves using official identities underneath a Public Service account. So first things first, ensure you have secured your green tick and decided on your posting strategy before you do anything else.
A whistle stop tour of Nextdoor’s key features 🕵️
Newsfeed: On logging in to Nextdoor you’ll immediately be met with a stream of the most popular content posted by others in your neighbourhood. It’s worth noting that the settings of this stream can be tweaked to suit your needs best. Opting to sort the feed by most recent posts or the most recent activity on posts may give you a more holistic view of the topics being discussed. You can also bookmark key posts to make it easier to keep track of discussions you’re particularly interested in.
Connections: Choosing to connect with other users on Nextdoor, assuming they accept your request, allows you to view their content first in your newsfeed and to be alerted every time they post an update. It also gives you the ability to tag them in posts and comments, alerting them in turn to your update.
Posting and reacting: Nextdoor allows you to post a range of content with your audience, whether you want to simply add text, a photo, images, launch a poll or create an emergency alert to share critical information with citizens. Of course you can react to other users’ content using the preset reaction icons or reply directly to a post with a comment of your own.
Private messages: Much like other networks there is always the option of taking conversations away from the public newsfeed and contacting users – or them contacting you – using direct messages.
Geo-targeted messaging: Craft messages and send relevant information to the specific neighbourhood and groups that need it most. From planned maintenance updates to road closures, proactive targeted messaging can deflect demand, drive engagement and build trust.
Groups: Set up and join groups focussed on the issues most important to the citizens you serve.
Polls: Nextdoor Polls for Public Services allows Nextdoor public services to quickly ask neighbours in their jurisdiction questions and quantify the results. From straw polls to voting on community issues, polls are a great way of capturing consensus in your community. All responses to the poll are completely anonymous. Anyone who receives the poll may cast a single vote until the poll is closed, at which point the results are displayed for everyone who received the poll in their newsfeed.
5 reasons why you should nail your Nextdoor strategy…🎯
1. Enjoy unique, direct access to engaged citizens in your community – Nextdoor is the only social network which has been specifically designed for citizens to discuss the issues affecting them most in their neighbourhood. Join them there and you have immediate access to an already engaged audience.
2. Deflect demand, drive engagement and build trust – by proactively keeping citizens informed and updated on key issues, not only can you deflect demand away from traditional inbound methods of contact but also develop trust and build a reputation as a public sector organisation that genuinely cares about its community.
3. Prioritise the safety of your community – from reporting crime to receiving important safety updates and instructions, Nextdoor lends itself perfectly to ensuring citizens in your neighbourhood can access the information they need, quickly.
4. Engage the voting public – by sharing topical information, soliciting opinion on hyperlocal topics, and acting on issues in an informal, but impactful way, demonstrating to citizens and residents that you value their input.
5. Understand what really matters to your community – by proactively listening to and engaging with residents, you can take out the guesswork of understanding the issues most important to them. Tools like polls are purposefully designed to help you make data driven decisions,
Still not convinced? 🤔
Check out what our friends at Gloucestershire County Council have to say about the benefits of the network…
“Here at Gloucestershire County Council we have been using Nextdoor more frequently, due to the increase in engagement on the platform from our residents, as well as the significant reach of our messages and information to the people of Gloucestershire. Being able to target neighbourhoods on the platform enables us to tailor our content to specific audiences, particularly where we offer localised services. We have found that Nextdoor not only provides a positive space for us to connect with our residents, but it also gives our residents the chance to interact with each other, creating a lively and welcoming space for discussions within our communities.”
Josie Atkinson – Communications Business Advisor – Digital Engagement at Gloucestershire County Council