How to get your neighborhood online

The beauty of the Internet is that it’s relatively easy to setup a website for a small local community like a neighborhood. Neighborhood websites can provide incredible value for a community by increasing the convenience and frequency of communication. The problem though, is that neighborhood websites are seldom visited.

Even so, thousands of neighborhoods have setup websites to make it easier for them to communicate by posting news, events, and classifieds, essentially replacing their expensive paper newsletters. The value of a neighborhood website is clear, but only if neighbors are using it, which is why neighborhoods continue to build websites, some costing thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, they have no plan in place as to how to get the neighbors to use it.

Many of our potential customers have come to us with this story. “We built a great website, posted a lot of interesting articles, and even told people to go visit it in our paper newsletter, but no one visits the darn thing”. (This is not an exact quote 😉 )

If you’re in this boat, don’t worry, so is everyone else.

So how do you get your neighborhood online? You’ve tried to send out mailings, postcards, newsletters and even asked your block captains to get on the phone. Nothing seems to be working.

The first thing that you have to do is to put a velvet rope around the website. You know, like the ones you see at exclusive clubs. In other words, you are not allowed in unless you’re a part of the club (neighborhood). I know what you’re thinking, “no one is visiting my site and you want me to make it harder to get access?”

Absolutely. When it was publicly accessible it wasn’t special. Consider how you feel when you drive home into your neighborhood – there’s a sense of belonging…a sense of place. That same feeling has to be created online if you want people to participate.

The second thing is to track who registers and who doesn’t. When you do this, you’ll be able to measure your success, and more importantly, you can send out reminders to those people who haven’t registered.

All this sounds great, but it’s difficult for a neighborhood to create a private website that only allows residents in and no one else. It’s even more difficult to track who’s online and who’s not.

Thankfully, eNeighbors has created a unique PIN registration process by which we will register the majority of your neighborhood online. Without this process, it’s unlikely that you’re website will be visited.

It’s really simply actually, and we do all the technical stuff as illustrated in the picture below.

Step 1: Once you sign up with eNeighbors, the first step is to gather your resident information. eNeighbors requires the street address and last name of every resident in your neighborhood.

Step 2: When eNeighbors has your resident information, we can create your site. This process can be completed in less than an hour. Upon setup, the board members will then start to populate the site with its initial content.

Step 3: When the board members are ready for residents to start joining, unique PIN numbers and a welcome letter will be mailed to each neighbor.

Step 4: Using their PIN numbers, residents can now join the site and begin contributing content and socializing with their neighbors.

This process will typically register between 20-30% of your neighborhood with each mailing. By the end of three mailings we expect that 60% of your neighborhood will be online. Overtime, the site will grow virally in your neighborhood. Some of our best performing sites have reached 80% adoption rates.

For more information on eNeighbors, I would invite you to visit our Overview page.

What makes a successful social network?

In her new book, Momentum, Allison H. Fine makes a point that is central to what makes eNeighbors tick:

“Two key characteristics of social networks are critical to their success. First, successful networks have hubs of information and leaders who drive the work. Second, information in social networks flows in a “friction-free” way to enable and empower people to work quickly at the outer fringes of the network.”

In the case of eNeighbors, the hub is the web-based application on the internet. The leaders are the board of directors. And the empowerment to the people (or neighborhood residents in this case) is made possible by the different ways you can share information with the eNeighbors application.

Oh, and happy birthday Allison.

What is eNeighbors?

So, what is eNeighbors? Here’s the introductory content from our website:

“eNeighbors is the first online communication tool designed specifically for neighborhoods and their residents. It is private, secure, and easy to set up.”

Basically, that means that we have created a web-based application that allows neighborhoods to communicate more easily than ever before. Unlike traditional websites that HOAs or neighborhoods put up for their residents, our application allows every resident to contribute. You also don’t need a web developer to create or maintain the site and its content. The eNeighbors application is so much more than a website. It also provides great social networking features that you might be familiar with on sites like Evite, Craigslist, and Meetup.

As promised, here’s a look at the application. This is the “Home” page a resident sees once they sign in to their account.

The primary services are:

1. News (post, read, and comment on the local news in your neighborhood)

2. Events (create and sign up for social events — an RSVP option is also available)

3. Groups (create a social group for you and your friends)

4. Resident Directory (address info for each registered user — phone numbers are only displayed if the resident chooses to)

5. Classifieds (you can post “wanted”, “for sale”, or “professional services” items)
eNeighbors Resident Dashboard