GUEST POST: A/B testing Facebook versus Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a US platform with 4 million UK users that signs people up to Facebook group-like communities. Join as council, fire or police under a partnership agreement and you can get your messages sent directly to each member. Interested? But how does it look in action? Lucy Salvage posts the same content to Facebook and Nextdoor and measures the impact in a one-off case study in an area that demands further investigation.

When I first heard about NextDoor, I have to admit I was sceptical.

I was not enamoured with the idea of yet another social media platform consuming so much of my time. So I tried to avoid it for as long as I could. I tried to forget it existed. This strategy worked well, until our neighbouring council’s started using it. They liked it. “Damn them!” I thought.

So with a big inhalation of breath, we signed up. It took a while for us to be set up as a local authority profile by NextDoor itself – they are much more hands-on and customer-servicey in this respect than Facebook. We had a contact and they assisted with the set up which included individual log-ins for our team of three.

That done, all was left to do was add a profile picture and then we could start posting. We have decided to use it for important alerts and public notices rather than it become a duplicate Facebook or Twitter; we are just not resourced for the same level of monitoring and engagement unfortunately.

What’s great about NextDoor is the nature of it’s set up. By using postcode data to build “neighbourhoods”, it allows users to easily send target messages to geographical areas – for free.

Despite my initial scepticism, I was quite taken a back by how many “members” there are using NextDoor in our District. 15,219 to be exact. That’s 9.5 per cent of our population compared with only 3.49 per cent of people who follow our Facebook page; and we haven’t even had to work for years to build that audience.

By only our third post we have been able to see the benefits of using NextDoor. A post about fly-tipping has surprisingly received only 1,400 fewer impressions than the same post on our Facebook page. Unfortunately, the analytics are not as detailed, and the only stats available seem to be impressions.

A/B testing data

Wealden District Council Facebook vs NextDoor

 FacebookNextDoor
Followers/members5,59415,219
Percentage pop.3.49%9.5% (18% households*)
 Fly-tipping post
Impressions53963,996
Reach5502n/a

*NextDoor is able to give this figure due to sign-up being reliant on postcode data.

What I also like about it, is that there is an option to disable comments on posts. This is really helpful as we intend to primarily use NextDoor as a broadcast platform due to our resource capability.

The Facebook post with 5,396 impressions

The Nextdoor post with 3,996 impressions

As for the fly-tippers, they were identified in a matter of hours, leaving our waste team in awe of the power of socials, and myself convinced that NextDoor might not be that bad a thing afterall.

Lucy Salvage is media and communications officer at Wealden District Council.

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