The neighbourly social network Nextdoor officially launched in Canada last week.
The Nextdoor mission to bring people together sounds very Facebook-ish, but it prides itself on being for “real people at real addresses”—using address verification to ensure users are only connecting with people who live nearby. Nextdoor actually refers to itself as a private network.
“At Nextdoor, we believe that change starts with each of us opening our front doors and building deeper connections with the people nearest to us—our neighbours,” said CEO Sarah Friar in a release last week.
Nextdoor says the platform is used by members for a variety of purposes: from posting about a lost pet, to finding recommendations for local services, to connecting with local businesses, or simply meeting with neighbours. Nextdoor is in more than 247,000 neighbourhoods in the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and now Canada.
While social networks have been under scrutiny for everything from increasing user stress and anxiety to spreading false information and, you know, undermining democracy, their popularity continues to rise.
Nextdoor’s unique model has proven appealing enough to attract $170 million in new funding and a valuation of $2.1 billion. Mary Meeker, one of the most respected digital and internet investing experts, was among the new investors.
“Nextdoor has proven itself as the leader in local connectivity. Nextdoor is built on trust—verifying each members’ name, address and neighborhood—which creates the transparency and accountability that is core to building communities,” said Meeker in a release last month to announce the new investment.
Meeker was a star at investment firm Kleiner Perkins (where her annual deep dives into the state of the industry were required reading for many) until she spun out her own investment firm Bond earlier this year.
“Nextdoor is connecting people to the information and services that matter most, and I am excited to work with this impressive team to help expand Nextdoor’s local utility as well as it’s growing global footprint,” she added.
Nextdoor also announced last week that Toronto will be home to its first internationally based team of engineers, and that former Twitter Canada executive Christopher Doyle was joining as country manager for Canada.
As for the opportunity for brands, Nextdoor will sell localized advertising, but admits it doesn’t yet have the scale for that in Canada. In the U.S. and U.K. “sponsored content is an effective way to connect members with trusted and relevant local services and information,” says the company.
It cites three key benefits to its advertising platform.
•Definitive household identity: impressions are served to verified members. “In essence, every impression is verified and so every dollar spent is going toward delivering the advertisers’ message. No other platform can do this”
•Local action: “Nextdoor’s purpose is building stronger local communities. We firmly believe that getting neighbours offline and into real world interactions is important. This works for advertisers too.” Nextdoor says its model makes it particularly effective at driving consumers to the nearest locations. “Events are also a cornerstone of our platform which many advertisers use to create unique experiences around a product sale.”
•Community advocacy: Nextdoor says the conversations and recommendations on its platform also have a great deal of influence on purchase decisions. “In fact, 76% of neighbours on Nextdoor have had a purchase decision influenced by a neighbour’s recommendation. To date, we have seen almost 40 million recommendations occur on the platform. Neighbours often respond to both advertiser messaging and to questions from each other. We find that the tone of responses is positive and constructive as most are answering a question that typically starts with ‘Looking for the best…’ or ‘Who would you recommend…?'”