Last November Santa Clara added the Nextdoor social media platform to its portfolio of community communication touch points. Nextdoor (www.nextdoor.com) is a free, neighborhood-based social networking platform designed to bring neighbors closer together, allowing them to share information and ask questions about things like lost pets, garage sales, neighborhood meetings, updates on issues of local concern, or where’s the best tacqueria.
Each neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor page, accessible only to residents. In other words, you can’t go around posting on other neighborhood pages, although residents can view posts from other nearby neighborhoods. Neighborhood “leaders” create and manage the neighborhood’s page, and moderate discussions when that’s needed. Nextdoor posts, like Facebook posts, aren’t accessible to search engines.
Nextdoor operates on an approval basis – someone has to verify that you actually are who you say you are and live where you say you live. You can also be invited to join. Anonymity isn’t allowed. Although it can be done, anonymous users will eventually have their accounts shut down. Beyond your home neighborhood, you can chose nearby neighborhood(s) whose posts you want to see. Only your name and neighborhood is seen by page visitors – no direct contact information is shown.
The City is using Nextdoor as another channel of communications for emergency, crime and traffic alerts – especially in advance of stadium events – neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and, yes, city-wide alerts for lost pets. However, the City won’t see residents’ postings or contact information.
“It’s just one more way the city stays in touch with people,” says Assistant City Manager Sheila Tucker. “Effective use of social media isn’t about where agencies and officials want to communicate. It’s about where individual residents want to communicate. Some people just go directly to the City website. Some want to see news on their Twitter feed. Others prefer Facebook. Nextdoor is just another option that makes City government more user-friendly for residents.” Currently, about 6,000 Santa Clara residents have signed up for Nextdoor, says Tucker.
To join, visit Nextdoor.com and enter your address.