How do you get news from your neighborhood? In the digital age, you’re probably connected to your neighbors and community online, perhaps through Facebook pages and groups, or other social media. Maybe you’ve seen or used Nextdoor, a platform specifically designed to help you connect, share news, and get advice from members of your local neighborhood. But have you considered how valuable the platform can be for local businesses like independent agencies, who rely on word of mouth referrals?
We talked to Kim Angeli, an expert on Nextdoor and former agency owner, as well as a few Nextdoor-savvy agencies, to get the scoop on the popular platform, learn what makes it so powerful for agencies, and find tips on the best ways to use it.
This article at a glance:
- Meet Kim Angeli, Nextdoor expert
- Why is Nextdoor such a powerful platform?
- It's local
- It's a trusted platform
- It attracts high-quality, high-intent referrals
- How to get started on Nextdoor
- Determine whether it's the right platform for your audience
- Join one or more neighborhoods
- Create your business page
- Get hearts and reviews
- Publish posts
- Answer relevant quations
Meet Kim Angeli, Nextdoor expert
As an early adopter in an industry that is notoriously slow to incorporate new technology, Kim describes herself as a “unicorn in the insurance world.” She adopted virtualization to move her agency to the cloud in 2007, before many agencies even had websites. Her mission, then and now, is to help independent agents—and other businesses—survive and thrive in the digital landscape. So when Nextdoor began emerging as a platform back in 2012, Kim took note. Her agency specialized in selling insurance to community associations, and she first heard the tool mentioned in a meeting with the board of directors for an association that was pivoting to interacting with their community on Nextdoor rather than Facebook.
Intrigued, she contacted the management at Nextdoor to learn more about the platform and share her insights as someone with a good understanding of neighborhood communities and associations. Though she eventually sold her agency to focus on her company, Grateful Box, which offers consulting and business coaching, she sometimes helped clients get set up on Nextdoor as part of their coaching.
After helping a waste management company grow their business exponentially by using Nextdoor, Kim began to see the potential for including education on Nextdoor in her services. “Nextdoor is so robust and so useful for local business owners to connect to their neighbors and community that businesses are opening their checkbooks to learn how to use it,” she says. “There are millions of homeowners on there looking for services for their life, and if your business is there you have access to them.”
Kim’s trainings on Nextdoor have become so popular with clients that she recently launched a Nextdoor Business Mastery Class to do group trainings on the topic. We talked to Kim about why Nextdoor is so valuable and how agents can get started on the platform.
Why is Nextdoor such a powerful platform?
Nextdoor is different than other social media like Facebook or Twitter. Here are some of the top reasons why the platform is designed to help local businesses like insurance agencies shine.
Nextdoor’s purpose is to connect you with the neighbors in your local neighborhood. Your feed is based on your home address, so you only see posts from people in your community. It describes itself as a platform “where communities come together to greet newcomers, exchange recommendations, and read the latest local news. Where neighbors support local businesses and get updates from public agencies. Where neighbors borrow tools and sell couches. It's how to get the most out of everything nearby.”
That’s what makes it so perfect for small local businesses, including insurance agencies. “This is where your ideal client is living,” says Kim. “It’s largely women with $100,000 household income. This is where women who are running households go to find services. They're busy and they don't have time to look everyone up on Google and call some service provider who's not going to show up.”
"People figured out they could go to Nextdoor and ask a question and it would only go to people in a radius of a few miles around their home, so they got much more relevant answers."
Nextdoor allows people to ask for and share recommendations on local services, so people on the platform are actively looking for services in their area. In fact, Nextdoor has exploded in popularity since the pandemic, increasing its daily active members by more than 80% and recently announcing plans to go public as part of a $4.3 billion deal.
“During the pandemic people wanted to find out which grocery stores in their area still had toilet paper or what restaurants were open,” Kim says. “But if you post something like that to Facebook, it will go to your friends in every country and every state. People figured out they could go to Nextdoor and ask a question and it would only go to people in a radius of a few miles around their home, so they got much more relevant answers. So that prompted a shift for more people to start using Nextdoor as a resource.”
It’s a trusted platform
Kim considers trust to be one of the biggest obstacles between an independent agent and a prospective client. “Everybody who sells something has to get their client across the bridge of trust,” she explains. “And Nextdoor was built on trust. It was created to facilitate word of mouth and organic reputation.”
She shares the example of her neighbor Barbara, who needed help with her yard. “She saw my yard looked great, so she went on Nextdoor and looked around and found who my yard guy was, because I had given him a recommendation. She didn’t even have to ask me about it. I have a relationship with Barbara, so I have leverage with her in her decision making. She trusts me, and saw who I trusted to do business with. I brought her across that bridge of trust, just by recommending a business I use. That’s where Nextdoor is so powerful.”
“Everybody who sells something has to get their client across the bridge of trust. And Nextdoor was built on trust. It was created to facilitate word of mouth and organic reputation.”
Nextdoor makes it easy to view a business’s page and see reviews and people who have given it a “heart,” or recommendation. Reviews are vital in today’s digital economy, and people give far more weight to reviews from people they know, and that are relevant to their local area. In addition, every business on Nextdoor is verified, and every user must have a verified address in order to interact with their local community. That means users can trust Nextdoor reviews and recommendations to be real and relevant, not fake or paid for.
It attracts high-quality, high-intent referrals
People go to Nextdoor for the express purpose of finding local services that their neighbors recommend. That means those on the platform are far more likely to be high-intent and eager to purchase than audiences on other social media platforms.
Kim says, “I could call any independent agent in the country and ask what works better for you, word of mouth referrals or leads from Google, and they would say word of mouth. It doesn’t take as many touches to convert them to a policyholder, because the trust from the referral source is already there.” Because Nextdoor facilitates word of mouth referrals, it’s a green field that will provide higher quality leads, or what Kim calls raving fans.
She explains, “a raving fan is not just someone who will pass on your business card. It’s someone who will say, John is my go-to insurance person and he is my trusted advisor and you should call him.” If an agency can create even a few raving fans on a platform like Nextdoor where other members of the community are listening, it can be a huge source of referrals.
The ultimate goal, Kim says, is to fill your pipeline with high-quality, high-intent referrals that can be closed in one or two touches, rather than tire-kickers who may be wasting your time or purchase only to leave months later to save a few dollars.
How to get started on Nextdoor
It’s clear that Nextdoor is a great place for agents to get referrals. But how does your agency get the Nextdoor machine running? Here are some tips from Kim, as well as a few HawkSoft agencies, on how to get started on the platform.
Determine whether it’s the right platform for your audience
Kim points out that Nextdoor may not be perfect for every agency, especially ones that are niche or more focused on businesses than homeowners, families, and households. “Make sure you’re spending time where you’re getting the most return on investment ,” she recommends. “Approach it like you would any other social platform—if you’re doing a lot of posting and not seeing any engagement, it might not be the place for you. But if you’re getting one like on a post on Facebook and hundreds from the same thing on Nextdoor, that’s where you should be spending your time.” As with other platforms, it will take some time, effort, and consistent engagement to see results, so be willing to dedicate some resources toward the experiment.
Join one or more neighborhoods
Nextdoor works by using your address to add you to a neighborhood of users within a radius of miles from you. Start by using your agency’s address to join the neighborhood for that area. If you have multiple addresses, such as additional offices or your home address, you can join multiple neighborhoods to increase visibility in your area.
Create your business page
Nextdoor allows you to create a page for your business, which will allow people to find you when they search for your business, as well as see your reviews and hearts, get your contact information, and link to your website or other social media. Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, you don’t have to have a personal page in order to set up a business page on Nextdoor.
Kim recommends that you take the time to make sure your Nextdoor page has as much information as possible and is branded similar to your website and other social media. And don’t forget about it once you’ve set it up! Make sure to maintain your page so that it stays up to date with current, correct information.
Simply having a well-done page is a huge step toward having a presence on Nextdoor. Kim offers a free checklist for setting up your Nextdoor business page, which is part of her training with businesses.
Like on other social channels, posting is important for creating visibility and engagement. However, Nextdoor only allows you to post from a business page two times a month, so it’s important to make them count. Nextdoor also offers paid business posts that are more widely visible to all the users in your neighborhood. Currently, Nextdoor is offering 24 business posts from your Nextdoor business page for free—what Kim calculates as about $3500 in free advertising. “Even if you don’t do any paid advertising on Nextdoor, at least do those 24 free posts,” she says. “It’s a super powerful way to get started and generate those referrals and get reviews and hearts at the beginning.” Kim’s masterclass guides businesses through how best to make use of these free posts.
What kind of content should you post on Nextdoor? Because the audience is local, you can share about events and charity efforts in the community. Andrea Wyatt, Marketing Director at Stromsoe Insurance, says their agency promotes the work they do with non-profit organizations. The agency donates to a different non-profit each month for every referral they receive. “We go out with large Publisher Clearing House-style checks and present them to the non-profits,” she says, “so we share the pictures from the check presentations on Nextdoor to promote the non-profits and show gratitude for all of the referrals that were sent our way. It shows our community involvement and how we give back. People LOVE these posts!”
Kim agrees that broadcasting your community involvement is one of the best things you can do on the platform: “You might think that people already know what you’re doing for the community, but they won’t know unless you tell them. It’s your job to communicate what you’re doing, and Nextdoor lets you communicate directly to the community that you serve.”
“You might think that people already know what you’re doing for the community, but they won’t know unless you tell them. It’s your job to communicate what you’re doing, and Nextdoor lets you communicate directly to the community that you serve.”
Andrea also recommends sharing posts that help people meet the team, so that users can get to know members of your agency. “Our team nominates a team member monthly for our Teammate of the Month award,” she says. “There is nothing better than having your team recognize one another and sharing why they nominated that person. We take a team photo to celebrate the Teammate of the Month and share it everywhere, including Nextdoor.”
Answer relevant questions
No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to, but if you become a trusted resource for your community, people will start lining up for your services without you even having to ask. HawkSoft User Group member Mike Tonsetic of Blanchard Insurance, who has seen success on Nextdoor, shares that he feels the most fruitful activity is to offer answers, advice, or suggestions when people ask questions related to insurance (or anything else) on the platform.
“My advice is not to start off soliciting like a used car salesman,” he says, “but to provide valuable advice and content in order to build yourself up as a trusted source, or center of influence. This could take a few months or even a year, but it's important to develop a positive reputation to expand your footprint exponentially.”
“If you can provide a positive experience or solution when people ask questions, they will become your fans. Once you establish yourself as the go-to expert, they’ll ask about your services."
You can search keywords like “insurance” or related topics on Nextdoor to find relevant conversations to contribute to, or use their daily digest email newsletter to keep an eye on the conversations happening on the platform. The efforts pay off in a big way, Mike says: “If you can provide a positive experience or solution when people ask questions, they will become your fans. Once you establish yourself as the go-to expert, they’ll ask about your services. My advice is to keep the bigger picture in mind and be very patient and strategic. Right now, my agency receives a handful of new opportunities daily from each community we monitor.”
Harness the power of community
Nextdoor is only continuing to grow in popularity, and if your agency isn’t making use of it, you could be missing out on valuable leads and referrals. “Nobody wants to be alone in the process for insurance or claims,” Kim says. “Anything that helps you let more people know that you're there to pick up the phone and care about them is valuable. If you can shout it from the rooftops consistently in places like Nextdoor, you’ll get word of mouth referrals from your raving fans who can connect you to others. You’ll be in a position to take only the best clients who understand your value and won’t leave you for anything. That’s the ultimate goal for any agent.”
Need help getting started with Nextdoor?
Get Nextdoor resources, request private coaching, or sign up for Nextdoor Business Mastery Group Coaching with Kim Angeli