I've been really serious about tracking client referral sources at my clinic for the last year. I was tired of the "online" generic response, and changed my clinic registration form to give our new clients more specific choices. I still had the "fill in the blank" spot in addition to checkboxes for the usual: Google, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, existing client, etc, etc.
For the first time, I started noticing more and more people writing "Nextdoor" in the empty blank. Then, we received a "Neighborhood Winner" sticker from Nextdoor and an invitation to claim our business page, so of course I did. So what the heck IS Nextdoor, anyway?
According to the platform themselves, Nextdoor is the world’s largest private communications platform for neighborhoods.
It launched in the fall of 2011, and has steadily been gaining traction. As of this writing, when I logged into my personal neighboorhood Nextdoor account, there were 186,000 neighborhoods established on the platform. My own little neighborhood has over 300 members, and when I searched for "veterinarian," more than a dozen clinics came up with little hearts next to them- indicating how many of my neighbors had "recommended" them, along with more than 2 dozen specific posts. I quietly trolled them all, making a mental note of my "neighbors" who had recommended or mentioned my practice in the posts.
I decided it was time to claim our practice's Nextdoor page. LIke many platforms, the good news it that establishing your profile can be a "set it and forget it" approach that needs little updating. Setting it up and enabling the proper notifications can allow you to be more accessible to your neighbors without the need to post frequently.
You'll recognize the process of claiming your business account as it's nearly identical to the process of other online registries like Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, etc. It requires the typical practice contact info, history, hours, profile pictures, and verification by answering a phone call on the business number. You can see the screenshot slideshow below, or start the process at www.nextdoor.com/business.
Once you've established your clinic, you can share the word with your existing clientele via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Similarly, your profile will allow you to see recent neighbor comments and recommendations, and reply to them if you so choose.
Many of you may be thinking "Why do I need to do this? Do I really need one more thing to check or worry about?" I get it. I really do- in the day-to-day scheme of things, I don't think that Nextdoor is going to really make or break any vet clinic's reputation. But I DO think that if your clients are looking for you, you want to be found, and you want to be the first to know if your clinic is receiving any negative press. Without claiming your page, you'll have access to neither option.
To be truthful, I suspect this is more popular in urban and suburban areas. Small towns have many pros and cons, but not needing a digital platform to connect with your neighbors is often one of the pros.
In my community just outside St. Louis city lines, I could see where some of my clientele may be Facebook-averse and instead use Nexdoor as a smaller, more personal recommendation search engine. My own little neighboorhood group proved to be exactly where I turned when I needed a recommendation for a landscaping project, and the info I got from my post there far exceeded what I found on a similar Google search. Nextdoor is more akin to leaning over the fence and asking your real next door neighbor for advice- far more personable and trustworthy than a random search.
Bottom line- it takes just a few minutes to set up, and could be helpful in building your online reputation and bringing new clients in the door. Worth a few minutes of your time, in my opinion.
I'd love to hear how it goes at your practice- shoot me a Facebook message and let me know if your clinic was already getting mentioned, or if you've been seeing clients from Nextdoor's referrals.