With Facebook basically dominating the local social networking scene, it's going to take something special to break Zuckerberg's stranglehold on local buy/sway/sell groups, community event notifications and other suburban information-sharing. But Nextdoor, is trying to do just that. With a presence in the US and several European countries, Nextdoor has quietly launched in Australia.
When I spoke to founder and CEO Nirav Tolia last week, I noted that was sceptical that anyone could successfully launch a social network that would crack Facebook's dominance. But Nextdoor is very different to Facebook. For a start, once a neighbourhood is added to Nextdoor, there's no administrator who can decide whether to accept or boot someone from the group. Membership is based on living in a neighbourhood. When you join Nextdoor, a verification process matches your phone number and address. A form of two-factor authentication is used so you prove you live in the nighbourhood's boundaries, which have been defined through council boundaries, police force boundaries and other sources.
In order for a neighbourhood to become active in Nextdoor, the first person who registers needs to get another nine folks, in the neighbourhood on board. So far, there are almost 550 active neighbourhoods in Australia with 87 in Sydney and 94 in Melbourne.
Whereas Facebook separates things like buy/swap/sell, interest groups, commercial services and other local groups, Nextdoor pulls them all together. The company's aim is to be as useful for local life as Facebook is to our social life and LinkedIn is to our professional life.
I had a quick play and was able to register myself successfully and was the first person in my neighbourhood. The process was easy and was able to match my phone number (I only have a mobile service) with my home address. Now I need to coax another nine people to join in order for my area to be officially active in Nextdoor.