Social Networking Moves Next Door

New social networks of one unimaginative description or another pop up every day, so it’s easy to treat them all with the same knee-jerk cynicism. But when the man who invested early in both LinkedIn and Facebook puts his hand deeper in his pocket than ever before on a new social start-up, you give it your full attention.

David Sze has invested $15 million in Nextdoor.com, a social network designed specifically for local communities. What I immediately like about the website is that it isn’t targeting the masses. Attempting to steal market share off Facebook or Twitter by becoming a Facebook or Twitter isn’t a viable model. New social networks must begin by targeting the fringes. They must identify a particular demographic looking for a particular solution to a particular problem, and give it to them.

And that’s exactly what Nextdoor does (as far as the introductory video tells me at least). The problem in question is this – we know longer know our neighbours. And the solution – Nextdoor allows you to build a simple community page in which you can discuss local matters, arrange babysitting rotors, donate old lawn mowers and even borrow that missing ingredient for a dinner party. All the simple things that used to define our once great communities (or so my mum tells me).

So will it be the next big thing

It’s specific, which is good. It’s got novelty, which is good. And it’s backed by a man who seems to ‘get’ what works, which is really good. In short, no, it probably won’t be the next big thing.

Why? Well there are new social networks released each and every day, all promising to change the world so in all probability, this particular effort (which received just 140,000 visits last month compared to Facebook’s hundreds of millions) won’t be the 0.1% that snowballs into the next big thing. But it might be the next small thing….

Unlike most social networks where the critical mass required is millions, the critical mass required for Nextdoor is just your neighbourhood. Small hives of activity completely independent from the masses. That’s the difference and that’s what makes it so interesting.

Unfortunately this is all very hyperthetical for me as it’s currently US neighbourhoods only, so I guess if I really want to speak to my neighbours I’ll actually have to speak to my neighbours. Nightmare.

Dan