Ever since first writing about the Nextdoor app, we’ve been hooked. It’s a great way for businesses to integrate into their immediate and neighboring communities, generate new leads based off of recommendations from the neighborhood, and keep businesses up-to-date about the needs of their community.
However, we’ve discovered that our latest crush seems to have a flaw and we think you should know about it: There may be negative reviews about your business that you’re unaware of and can’t defend against.
And Nextdoor’s advised strategy against this is a solid miss.
As Nextdoor goes, business owners must claim their business on Nextdoor and then get a recommendation from a neighbor to show up on searches for say, a plumber. Neighbors can recommend a business, similar to liking it, and comment about a business in thread conversations amongst neighbors discussing the establishment. Sometimes a neighbor will post about how great their experience was with a business and recommend it to the neighborhood among other features that help businesses thrive.
For the most part, the Nextdoor app encourages positive conversation, it even says so on its site. There’s a recommendation system instead of a rating system, so a business can’t get a one or two-star review. They can get a recommendation or no recommendation. And of course, people can comment on businesses and the experiences they’ve had with them.
Like any platform, negativity can always creep into the conversation. For example, someone leaving a comment about a crummy experience they had with a local business. This always hurts.
In its FAQ about responding to reviews, Nextdoor encourages businesses to respond to negative reviews from neighbors, correcting any misinformation and to even go so far as to message them privately to remove a negative comment because Nextdoor says it’s not in the business of removing comments based on misinformation. On the other hand, like many other review platforms, it will review reported comments to see if it violates their community guidelines.
We are on board so far! Coming up, however, is where we start giving them the funny eye.
A unique feature of Nextdoor is that you can’t get in on a conversation about, say, giving away free apples in a neighborhood on the other side of town, hence the app’s name, Nextdoor. Things are generally kept pretty tight with conversations confined to specific neighborhoods and the members in them and each neighborhood has monitors who review content for that neighborhood.
Unfortunately though, there is no stopping someone in neighborhood A from trash talking an out-of-network business in neighborhood K, on the other side of town. The business could be a non-member completely or just in another neighborhood and be getting negative reviews from afar, and they may not even know about it since they most likely won’t automatically be notified.
What’s even worse is that this business, because things are kept strictly to the neighborhoods, cannot fight back, defend themselves, or even respond.
Nextdoor does address this issue, but quietly, like they’re trying to keep a lid on it and their response is, we think, quite laughable:
“I am not a member of the Nextdoor neighborhood in which my business received a negative review. Can Nextdoor remove that negative review?
If you are not a member of Nextdoor, or the review was posted in a neighborhood where you’re unable to reply, you can encourage one of your customers who does live in the neighborhood to post a reply on your behalf.”
We don’t think this a reason to stop working with Nextdoor, but it is something businesses should be aware of, especially considering they may come across the negative conversation by happenstance since it’s outside their neighborhood.
For now and until this hopefully changes, take Nextdoor up on their suggestion. For the businesses that this has happened to, we hope and advise that you have friends in other neighborhoods.