Nextdoor for Public Agencies engagement plan for Emergency Managers

Joseph Porcelli
May 10, 2019 · 14 min read

Introduction

You’ve likely heard about Nextdoor and you’re probably reading this to learn more about how you and your fellow Emergency Managers around the county are using Nextdoor for Public Agencies, our free government interface, to help your resident better prepare for, respond to, and recovery from disasters.

The purpose of this engagement plan is to provide you with everything you need to know about how to get the most of our Nextdoor for Public Agencies so you can hit the ground running confidently. If we’ve left something out, leave a comment to let us know!

In this post, you will learn about how neighbors use Nextdoor in their neighborhoods; how Emergency Managers are using Nextdoor for Public Agencies; what, where, how often to post a message on Nextdoor and which staff to give access; key ingredients to delight residents, best practices to drive engagement, frequently asked questions, and helpful resources and how to get technical support; and finally, impactful messages to share with your residents on Nextdoor.

What is Nextdoor?

Nextdoor is the world’s largest social network for the neighborhood. Nextdoor enables truly local conversations that empower neighbors to build stronger and safer communities.

Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighborhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, have been a guiding principle for Nextdoor since it was founded in 2011. Neighbors in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Australia are using Nextdoor.

Neighbors rely on Nextdoor to connect with their local communities and have conversations about everything from finding a local service provider to learning about a rash of break-ins. Unlike other social media platforms, Nextdoor was built from the ground up with the neighborhood in mind.

. Neighborhoods are founded by neighbors, with mapped boundaries.

Only members with a verified address may access their community’s Nextdoor neighborhood. Members are also required to use their real names

Recommendations, classifieds, events, crime & safety, and more!

What is Nextdoor for Public Agencies?

Nextdoor for Public Agencies, our free government interface, enables emergency managers to build strong ties and trust with the neighborhoods they serve to improve the effectiveness of their mitigation, community preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

With access to Nextdoor for Public Agencies, staff can geo-target messages to specific neighborhoods or hazard zones, or their entire municipality improving the reach and efficiency of their outreach. Nextdoor members who are verified residents automatically receive staff communications.

Share information with whom it matters most by sending messages to targeted service areas and neighborhoods.

Mitigate online “trolling” by ensuring residents are who they say they are — Nextdoor users must verify their address, use their real name, and adhere to community guidelines.

Solicit feedback, educate the community with interactive polls, and improve attendance at local events and training sessions.

What to post

We think about posts in two categories, Inform and Educate, and Activate and we’ve broken out examples accordingly below.

As needed — post discussions about:

  • Pending severe weather & events — storm advisories, watches, and warnings
  • Avoid Weather/disaster closures — Major route, bridges, and roads

Weekly — post discussions and polls about:

  • Post polls to gather input and educate such as:
  • Got an NOAA weather radio?
  • Got enough water?
  • Know two ways out?

As needed — post discussions to get neighbors to:

  • Attend local meetings, preparedness fairs, and training
  • Register for CERT, NERT, or MRC
  • Encourage neighbors to check on each other and those who are vulnerable

As needed: Post urgent alerts about:

  • Warnings — and direct to, for example, shelter in place.
  • Evacuations orders — and direct to shelters or out of harm’s way

As needed: Post discussion and polls to gather situational awareness:

  • About damage to their homes, property, and infrastructure
  • About open stores and gas stations that are operational

How often to post and where

As often as you like/need to

Weekly

Monthly (Please close discussions)

If there is a major announcement or incident, post as needed where needed

Which staff to give access

PIOs + Director, preparedness, planning, and recovery staff

How to delight your residents with communication on Nextdoor

  • Communicate with the aim to increase resilience and trust
  • Think and communicate like a community organizer — Tell people what is happening, what you are doing about it, and tell them what they can and should be doing
  • Communicate regularly and allow discussion. Do not close discussions by default.
  • Geo-target communications so they are locally relevant
  • Respond to questions as time allows and acknowledge breakdowns and appreciations
  • Seek input, educate, and gather situational awareness with Nextdoor Polls for Public Agencies

Best practices to drive engagement

  • Subject Line — Keep them short and sweet — Tell residents what is happening and where
  • Tone — Write in a neighborly tone as if you were speaking to your neighbor
  • Answer questions — Nextdoor members want to have a conversation with you, they don’t want you to push content at them and not allow them to respond or ask questions.
  • Photos — Every post including polls should have a photo — wider photo’s look better than taller ones
  • Videos — Add videos by including URL links to Vimeo, Youtube, and Facebook videos
  • Attachments — Do not attach word documents. Save PDF’s as PNG’s to get more eyes on your content. Always include the who, what, where, when, and why in the message.
  • Measure impact with the Content & Engagement report and by downloading polls results

Frequently asked questions about Nextdoor for Public Agencies

  • Do people need to like/fan/subscribe to receive our posts? No, Nextdoor for Public Agencies is an opt-out platform, all members automatically receive your messages. Should they wish, they can unsubscribe from the agency or mute individual users.
  • Can members start a conversation with us? No, communications are initiated by agency user.
  • How can do residents interact with agency users? Residents see agency posts on their Nextdoor website or mobile app, as well as through email. Residents can thank and reply to agency posts, or send agency users private messages. If needed in profile settings, you can disable private messages.
  • Do we have to monitor or moderate resident-to-resident conversations on Nextdoor? No, agency users cannot see information about residents or what they are discussing in their neighborhoods.
  • Can we push a message out and not allow engagement? Yes, where applicable, you can close a discussion. In most cases, we do not recommend, closing discussions.
  • Can we access Nextdoor for Public Agencies on our Mobile Device? Yes, you can log in from your mobile phone at nextdoor.com/login. The app is only available to residents.
  • How is archiving handled? Our system archives all your posts for you, nothing is deleted. If you need it, we have a retrieval tool.

Resources and how to get support

Impactful messages to share on Nextdoor

Your first post on Nextdoor:

  • Introductory message

Proven messages to share on Nextdoor:

  • Poll: Have you personally experienced a natural, technological, or manmade disaster?
  • Poll: Have you received help from a neighbor or given help to a neighbor during a disaster?
  • Poll: Did you know that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding?
  • Poll: Which option below best reflects the last time you checked your insurance deductible?
  • Poll: Do you have an NOAA weather radio in your home?
  • Poll: Do you have 8 glasses of water per person per day in your household to last 3 days?
  • Poll: Are you able to make at least 3 meals a day per person for three days without having to cook or rely on refrigerated or frozen food?
  • Poll: Do you have enough battery power, or the ability to generate power, to stay safe and healthy during a power outage lasting more than 3 days?
  • Poll: Do you have any out-of-state contacts if you become separated from your family members?
  • Poll: Do you have enough money saved that you could easily access for emergency costs?
  • Poll: Have you identified more than one way to leave your neighborhood if your first choice for evacuation is blocked?
  • Poll: Do you have a go kit?
  • Poll: Did you know you can sign up to receive urgent alerts from Nextdoor via text?
  • Did you know Nextdoor will pay for and mail postcards for you to invite your neighbors whom you do not yet know?

Assessing the value of communications on Nextdoor:

  • Poll: Since participating in our recent discussions and polls we’ve posted, which option best describes the actions you’ve taken to better prepare yourself and your household?

Your first post on Nextdoor — Introductory message

Subject: Hello from the [Agency Name] Emergency Management Agency

Hello, neighbors!

My name is [Your Name] and I am the [Your Title] at [Agency Name] Emergency Management Agency. I am pleased to let you know that starting today, we will commence using Nextdoor’s free government interface. We’ll be using Nextdoor to share tips and resources to keep you, your family and neighbors safe. Also, we will use Nextdoor to let you know when we offer training and when we host community meetings near you.

As a member of Nextdoor that lives in [City/County], you’ll automatically get our messages. If you no longer wish to receive our updates, you can manage your preferences here — http://bit.ly/NextdoorGovManage

Please keep in mind that your Nextdoor neighborhood network remains private to only you and your neighbors who are verified residents of your Nextdoor neighborhood network. We are NOT able to see what you and your neighbors are discussing, though we will receive your replies to our posts when discussions are enabled.

Note: We do not continually monitor Nextdoor, and you should NOT use Nextdoor to request emergency services. If you require emergency services, call 911.

We look forward to working with you to make [City/County Name] an even safer for all.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Agency Name]

Proven messages to share on Nextdoor

Down the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Have you personally experienced a natural, technological, or manmade disaster?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any lessons you’ve learned below as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Have you received help from a neighbor or given help to a neighbor during a disaster?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and share any experiences you may have had as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Did you know that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding?

For “Add a poll description”: Flooding is one of the most costly types of damage to a home, most people do not know that they must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Let us know if you knew this by selecting one of the options below. Also, if you have been affected by flooding, feel free to share some lessons learned as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, I did
  • No, I did not

For “Ask a question”: Which option below best reflects the last time you checked your insurance deductible?”

For “Add a poll description”: Some homeowners insurance policies have different deductibles for different types of losses. Some of these can be several thousand dollars. The time to find out the amount of your deductible is now, not when you have a claim. Pick the option below that best reflects the last time you checked your deductibles.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Last month
  • A few months ago
  • Last year
  • Years ago
  • I have never checked my insurance deductibles
  • I do not have homeowners insurance

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have an NOAA weather radio in your home?

For “Add a poll description”:

Weather radios broadcast continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. You can select the type of broadcasts you want to hear including daily forecasts, severe weather warnings, watches, and other hazard information. Let us know if you have one!

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes
  • No

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have 8 glasses of water per person per day in your household to last 3 days?

For “Add a poll description”:

If the pipes in your home were to freeze, the electricity goes out and you have a well, or if there was a major blackout and your utility company was unable to pressurize water throughout your community, you will need 1 gallon of water per person in your household to last 3 for at least days.

Please pick on one option below that best fits your level of preparation. Please also feel free to share any tips you may have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, we do
  • No, we do not, thanks for the information

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Are you able to make at least 3 meals a day per person for three days without having to cook or rely on refrigerated or frozen food?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any tips you have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, we can
  • No, we cannot

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have enough battery power, or the ability to generate power, to stay safe and healthy during a power outage lasting more than 3 days?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any tips you have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, we do
  • No, we do not

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have any out-of-state contacts if you become separated from your family members?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any tips you have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, we do
  • No, we do not

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have enough money saved that you could easily access for emergency costs?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any tips you have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, I do
  • No, I do not

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Have you identified more than one way to leave your neighborhood if your first choice for evacuation is blocked?

For “Add a poll description”: Pick one option below, and if you selected yes, please share any tips you have with your neighbors as a comment.

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • Yes, I have
  • No, I have not

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Do you have a go kit?

For “Add a poll description”: In the event of an emergency, you may not have time to find or collect essential items in a hurry. A go-kit is a collection of basic items, such as prescriptions, blankets, family documents, extra food and water for pets and individuals, whistles etc., compiled and ready to go in the event of a quick evacuation. Consider your family’s unique needs when creating your kit. For more information and suggestions, visit https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

For “Add a choice”:

  • Yes
  • No
  • What is a go kit?

Assessing the value of communications on Nextdoor

Download the photo.

For “Ask a question”: Since participating in our recent discussions and polls we’ve posted, which option best describes the actions you’ve to better prepare yourself and your household?

For “Add a poll description”: Our goal is to ensure you are informed about the hazards you face and the actions you can take to prepare yourself and your family.

Please pick the option below to best describes the actions you’ve taken to better prepare yourself and your household?

For “Add a choice” fields:

  • I/we have taken many of the actions you’ve suggested
  • I/we have taken some of the actions you’ve suggested
  • I/we have taken none of the actions you’ve suggested

We hope you found this information helpful. If we missed something or you have a question, please leave a comment, neighbor!

Nextdoor for Public Agencies Resource Center

Resources to help public agencies use Nextdoor to engage…

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