Tag Archives: apps

Nextdoor – Monetizing at the Expense of Users

Nextdoor is a neighborhood social networking app used by more than 150,000 neighborhoods in the U.S,  It’s a great app in so many ways. The initial product was unique and filled a need that most people didn’t realize they had (like innovative, successful products do, #PC #ipod). Nextdoor offered utility and community that Facebook couldn’t. But Nextdoor is so focused on monetizing through local business promotion (sponsored content) that they seem to have forgotten the importance of user experience namely in the buying/selling area.
Nextdoor sponsored post
Austin: 30% lost dogs, 30% lost cats, 15% for sale or rent, 10% cacti, 10% sponsored content (ads), 5% misc.
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Until 2016, Nextdoor had been entirely funded by venture capital firms including Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tiger Global Management and others.

Recently, we have begun testing sponsored content from a select group of businesses who we believe have valuable products and services to share with Nextdoor’s members. We are also testing allowing local real estate agents and brokerages to promote listings in their zip codes. –Nextdoor
Nextdoor logo
Great name.

Feature Fails

The biggest problem is the search functionality, which is abysmal. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to search results. They are infuriatingly unhelpful. It’s like the app wants to show you that once upon a time there was a perfectly relevant post but now you’re SOL. Recency is paramount for this type of app, focused on quick sales or neighborhood updates. The content is mostly fleeting and time-sensitive.
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For example, search “table” and you’ll see six-month old posts but nothing new, even if a table was posted to the classifieds section yesterday.
You can’t access your own activity easily. Also, I don’t know if it’s my issue but there is no way to get your iPhone to add a visual notification badge (red number) to the Nextdoor icon. So you have to check your email or keep opening the app, which you forget to do, and then miss PMs, and the agave plant you were eyeing gets sold to someone down the block.
Boston brownstones
I once worked for a home services review provider in the same space. I predicted Nextdoor would eat that company’s lunch. They are, as is Amazon Home Services (fantastic, smart model there – go Bezos GO.)

Why Nextdoor is Special

Here’s what I saw two years ago: Nextdoor offers a convenient, focused platform for a select group (a tribe, more importantly) based on location. It’s the closest thing to an inherently trustworthy digital community you can find and its geo restrictions keep it relevant. Neighbors on Nextdoor just trust each other more when transacting or discussing. There’s more respect. Because it’s literally your neighbors. That is unique online.

But Nextdoor is going to need to invest heavily in a better UX if they want to survive the war of Classifieds with Facebook Marketplace utterly dominating the P2P selling space.

Facebook: Talk about great UX. That GD app which is the entire internet for most people may well beat out Craigslist for (G-rated) selling because it offers social proof and greater trust among sellers and buyers, plus total convenience because its messages are right inside Facebook versus your throwaway email. Easy mobile photo upload and price adjustment notifications to users watching your listing make the experience better for all. It’s a better experience than listing on Nextdoor, and clearly Zuck has already figured out monetization. Nextdoor needs to clean up the selling/buying features or there won’t be many users left to see the ads.
By the way, here’s the funniest Craigslist moment I’ve had in years. I was shopping for a table, and used my Google Voice number as usual to maintain some privacy:
screenshot of rude Craigslist email
How did he even know it was G Voice? Who’s the creepy one now? Rude/ignorant. Keep your table, dude.

Six Years of Answering Instagram User Questions

I provided the original Instagram FAQ. Information in demand was missing from the internet and I enjoy researching technology and helping people. I wrote two posts in 2011 and 2012 about Instagram privacy which still rank in Google’s top 10 search results for related terms.

Six years and 700+ comments later, here’s what I’ve learned about human frailty, desire, shame, and searching.

woman looking at the water holding her phoneIn 2011, Instagram was growing in popularity but lacked a formal FAQ. Users desperately sought information about whether their accidental photo likes would be visible to their exes and frenemies.

Instagram FAQ comment
One of the top 3 Instagram questions I receive.
Instagram FAQ question
Will they know I liked the photo if I do everything possible to prevent it?

I’ve answered hundreds of questions in the comments and continue to receive more each week. After six years of fielding queries about Instagram profile privacy, blocking, hiding likes, push notifications, and whether video views are public, I have concluded that we waste far too much time worrying about the visibility of our activity. We feel unnecessary shame. We want to hide what we consider shameful: voyeurism, the masochism of cyber stalking an ex, or simply our fascination with others’ lives. These are timeless human behaviors that have adapted to the available means. Look at songs like Don’t Come Around Here No More and On Every Street. Everyone can relate to these lyrics. Songs like these play in my head as I read through the comments on my Instagram posts. We’re nostalgic, we’re sentimental, we seek information and updates on lost loves, lost friends, lost places.

It’s clear that we use social media for many reasons. One is to satisfy our hunger for connection and validation. We do this less and less in person and increasingly online. So much is lost in this digital version of interacting.

Instagram privacy question
How do I get my new ex to stop copying me online?

I’ve seen the fear of being found out for behaviors that are common and understandable. We have been given tools to passively, secretly watch the highlight reels of each others’ lives. So naturally we watch. And we slip and click and immediately feel ashamed and self-conscious, exposed for engaging in the very behaviors that the creators of these apps and our fellow users expect and encourage.

Chicago rowhouse neighborhood

Tom Petty asked his ex to “stop walking down my street”. She probably wouldn’t want to be seen but couldn’t help herself. Now she’d be embarrassed to be caught accidentally liking his two-year old photo. Mark Knopfler uses the metaphor of a detective looking for a missing person when writing about an ex he just can’t forget. Ani DiFranco captures the same sentiment in Gravel, still under her ex’s spell. We keep holding on to each other, to memories, to old flames, to friendships that dried up, and to places we’ve left behind. We seek connection and belonging, and we cling to the moments when we felt it. But we’re looking somewhere that can never meet our needs.

How a WTF Moment Became the New Normal – StandFor Interview

This Fourth of July, I had a memorable WTF moment with one of the rudest people I’ve ever met. What makes it noteworthy is that many consider his behavior normal. I tell the story in this interview with StandFor: Technology as an Escape Mechanism

Excerpt:

…To put it in context with technology: the Like button came out in 2009, then Facebook’s first mobile app was released in 2010, but it was pretty awful. Smartphones outsold PCs for the first time in the last quarter of 2011. Facebook improved its app, and with every iteration, it became smoother and more addictive, fueling phubbing.

In the U.S., having and responding to work email on your phone at all hours became expected as smartphone use increased, encouraging the unhealthy always-on worker mentality. The pendulum swung further when Instagram hit a penetrative point, having 150 million MAUs by late 2013, three years after launch.

I’d say 2012-2013 is when phubbing became really noticeable.

These social apps are engineered to be highly addictive. It’s a business that profits off usage. I noticed people checking their phones not just for text messages (actual communication) but being addicted to refreshing their social feeds like slot machines (passive, receptive entertainment) because the apps for Facebook and Instagram became so addictive. Facebook became the internet for many people. These apps are designed to encourage addictive checking just like cigarettes and McDonald’s fries cause cravings. Smartphones with apps, messaging, and email provide what became a socially acceptable escape mechanism for the boring or awkward moments of daily life

Read more at The Talk: Technology as an Escape Mechanism.

#talkyourwalk

Emily sitting near grass
Me at the StandFor photo shoot – wearing Quit Phubbing shoes

Photo credit: Heather Haberkern (Heather is a talented stylist, interior designer, and photographer who led the StandFor photo shoot)

BeanCast 452: More Sketchy Studies

I joined The Beancast again. This time the theme was how much bunk is out there in marketing study land.

What do YOU do on your phone during TV ads? We tackled Facebook’s assertion that TV viewers turn to Facebook during commercial breaks, the hurdles facing people-based marketing, overcoming voting blocs at Cannes, and the effectiveness of brand takeovers on Twitter (I say not effective at all). Also, why Canada at Cannes is like the 1988 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team in Cool Runnings, and Travis Kalanick is a narcissistic frat boy. (Not mentioned on the show but worth noting: Sarah Lacy at Pando has been calling out Uber‘s problematic culture with little notice since 2012).

Cool Runnings movie poster
Canadians at Cannes are like Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Winter Olympics

Listen to The BeanCast on Apple Podcasts

June 12, 2017

PANEL

Emily Binder, Principal Consultant, Beetle Moment Marketing

William Bock, Director of Strategic Consulting, Merkle

Saul Colt, Principal, The Idea Integration Co.

Craig Hodges, Principal, Randwick End Consulting

Bob Knorpp, Host, The BeanCast


TOPICS

Phones, Social, and TV Ads

The Hurdles for People-Based Marketing

Voting Blocs at Cannes

Brand Takeovers on Twitter


#ADFAIL5

Google pissing off brands and consumers with their planned ad blocking stance

One fifth of UK web users now have an ad blocker

Leaked Uber memo from 2013 adds to the bad PR

Bulleit Bourbon sues Redemption Bourbon for stealing their bottle design

Breitbart hasn’t lost all of their advertisers yet

Adapted from original post by Bob Knorpp on thebeancast.com

Your Life History on Demand

Here’s what I see coming for voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Lots of marketing opportunities here, and perhaps finally one eco-system to combine all social app data. More on that later.
Basic Functionality:
  • What date did I move to San Francisco?
  • Who joined me at the Bruce Springsteen concert a few years ago?
  • What was the name of that Portland, Maine dive bar on the water with the oysters we loved?
  • When did I first buy raw maca powder?
That’s fairly simple stuff. The required data sources (which we’re already comfortable sharing) include:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Swarm
  • Instagram
  • Amazon
  • Evernote
Amazon Echo Dot on kitchen counterApps like Timehop can already tap into high level info like this and tell you where you were three years ago, but the social and detail layers will require more information and networked data.
Intermediate Functionality:
  • What did I wear to Blackdiamondskye?
  • Which outfit should I wear today?
  • What topics did I research after my first lunch with Sandra?
  • How many calories have I really eaten today?
  • When am I due for an oil change?
Data sources:
  • Google
  • Weather
  • Credit card purchase history
  • Amazon
  • Photos
    • Clothing/style analysis (with predictive capability)
  • Mobile GPS data (location services) from apps like Google Maps
  • Passbook (boarding passes, movie ticket stubs, event badges)
  • Messaging app history (iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.)
Advanced functionality:
  • When was I happiest during the time I lived in New York?
  • Which job offer suits me best?
  • When did I know I was in love?
Data sources:
Everything we say and type? No – just all of the aforementioned sources, plus a future wearable or implanted device to monitor energy. Triangulate the data and apply some algorithms and AI.
hourglass with blue sand
Essentially, I think everything I currently rely on Evernote for will be available through a voice  assistant that is continually self-improving a personalized tagging convention and data-rich picture of who I was, who I am, and who I will be (how I will behave).
Location, check-in, and social data – your digital footprint – will be accessible. Visuals included. The more you check in and document your every move, the richer your look-backs will be. This is similar to the re-do in my favorite Black Mirror episode, The Entire History of You, except what I envision is not based on a 24/7 life recorder, but an aggregation of experiential data shared by permission.
ICYMI – The Entire History of You premise: In an alternate reality, most people have a “grain” implanted behind their ear. It records everything they see, hear, and do, like a first person recorder for life. This allows memories to be (quite realistically) played back either in front of the person’s eyes or on a screen, a process known as a “re-do”.
I’m not advocating for a grain implant or anything as terrifying as what’s available in this show. But the personal data recall possibilities are pretty exciting.
  • Upside: wonderful for re-experiencing memories or pulling up information quickly.
  • Downside: our memories will get even weaker because we will exercise that muscle less and less. Oh, and privacy.