architectural facades of houses

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.