Congratulations to Nirav Tolia and his team at Nextdoor.com. After a year of testing, they lifted the cover from their new service this week. We welcome another player into the “neighbor conversation” online space. They join Whitepages.com’s Neighbors, MSNBC.com’s Everyblock, and about 20 other start-ups working to help neighbors connect.
Will they get traction? Will they generate significant revenue? To the first point, many efforts in this space seem a mile wide and an inch deep with broad reach and little traction. To the second… in Nextdoor’s case, they’re not trying yet.
This is in stark contrast to Front Porch Forum which has incredible particpation, albeit in a single region. Half of Vermont’s largest city participates in FPF. And they aren’t just lurkers. Whereas much of social media content is provided by a slim 1-10% of users, on FPF a majority of our members speak up… and the tone is consistently neighborly. Also, we’re seeing great results with our recently launched neighborhood-specific advertising system for local businesses.
Front Porch Forum has given me information, income, and, best of all, the first real feeling of connection to this town after living here for 22 years!
– Anne Howland, Middlesex, VT, FPF member
FPF’s super-charged level of engagement doesn’t come easy. Many players in the neighbor-conversation space will fail because they’ll substitute tech bells and whistles for real understanding of the social demand that they’re trying to meet… or because they’ll scale too fast and thin.
Achieving critical mass in hundreds of nearby small online neighborhood groups AND getting folks to stick around for years AND speak up AND keep it civil… this is hard stuff. And this is what FPF is doing successfully now across one-third of Vermont. We’ve developed a complex and nuanced system that we’re pushing from our seasoned staff into our code base as we approach scaling.