Inspired by the rising interest in local social engagement, which had been amplified by COVID lockdowns around the world, Meta saw the opportunity to put the squeeze on another potential competitor by launching Neighborhoods in Canada last May.
At that time, Nextdoor had been on a tear, seeing an 80% increase in users as a result of the pandemic. As people looked for local support, and new ways to engage with their immediate neighbors, Nextdoor found new life – which then prompted Meta to pay more attention, and make it work a little harder for its growth.
Which makes sense. Facebook groups are already a key connector for many people, with more than 1.8 billion monthly users, while more than 38% of Facebook group members also look to connect with people in their local area through groups.
The logic all fits, and with Nextdoor gathering steam, Meta looked to snuff it out, or at least, to lessen its momentum by replicating its features.
Replication of this type isn’t always designed to ‘win’, as such, and halt an app’s progress entirely. But by diluting app differentiation, that then gives people less reason to download it in the first place, and start building new networks.
If you’ve already connected with all of your friends and neighbors on Facebook, why start all over again someplace else? You can apply the same logic to Stories, Reels, BeReal, TikTok – basically every other rising social app over the past decade.
But then, as COVID restrictions were lifted, people stopped caring so much about their neighbors anyway.
As you can see in this chart, Nextdoor downloads surged in both 2019, following international expansion, and in 2020, on the back of COVID restrictions. It’s since lost a lot of that momentum, despite maintaining a steady baseline, in line with broader availability.
As such, it comes as little surprise to see Meta sunset its Nextdoor alternative, which it also notes is due to its initial tests indicating that Facebook Groups are a better option for such anyway.
Right now, Neighborhoods is only available in the US and Canada, while usage levels are reportedly not incredibly high, so again, the impact will be minimal.
Worth noting, too, that it could also be a victim of Meta’s broader cost-cutting and rationalization, as it seeks to pump more money into its metaverse development.
All of those VR developments are costly, and if Meta wants to maximize adoption, it needs to not only make great VR experiences, but also make them cheap enough that billions of people will be able to buy in.
As a result, you can expect to see more of Meta’s experiments falling by the wayside, in light of its bigger goals on the Horizon.
Neighborhoods will be shut down as of October 1st.