eNeighbors: Lost pet retrieval tool?

If you don’t have an eNeighbors website for your neighborhood, what do you do if you’ve lost your pet?

We’ll, if you’re like most people, you’ll probably post flyers, go door-to-door, and maybe even call animal control. With any luck, you’ll be able to locate your pet in no time, but more often than not, these tactics can feel painfully futile.

But imagine if you had the ability to instantly communicate with all of your neighbors via email?

With eNeighbors Bulletins, you can do just that.

In fact, just yesterday, a resident of Parkhurst lost their cat, Napoleon. (Parkhurst is a neighborhood that uses our services.)

A bulletin was sent out to everyone on the email list at 4:30PM to inform neighbors to look out for a “2-year old grey male cat” with a “blue and white Safe-cat collar with a gold tag…”

Two and a half hours later, at 7:00PM, Napoleon had been found and an email was sent out to thank everyone.

“Our cat Napoleon was found by one of our good neighbors underneath their enclosed deck, and is in wonderful shape, although a bit hungry!!

Thank you Lori for helping to bring our family member back home.

Thank you sooooo much everyone!!!!!”

Despite what the title of this post may suggest, we don’t advertise our services as a way of retrieving lost pets. We’re simply a communication tool that helps neighbors communicate in the way that they want to, but it’s a great example of how eNeighbors can provide value to neighborhoods and their residents.

If you’re interested in an eNeighbors website for your neighborhood, we’d love to show you our demo.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

Screenwerk mentions eNeighbors today in a post on Hyper/Micro Local Initiatives. Screenwerk is the blog of Greg Sterling who is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence.

Elsewhere, Front Porch Forum also comments on the eNeighbors new service. Front Porch Forum’s mission is to help neighbors connect and foster community within neighborhoods through email forums.

Why Is eNeighbors Important?

I was thinking about what it is that we do — Why does eNeighbors exist? What are our goals? Why did we create this web application? etc… You get the idea. Here was my conclusion — the most important thing about eNeighbors is that we promote, facilitate and encourage the following:

  1. Open communication
  2. Sense of place in a community
  3. Public safety

The goal of any social network is to create constant communication between its community members. eNeighbors has taken this concept and pushed it even further. Our goal is to get our users (neighbors) to interact with each other “offline” in the real world.

This interaction of online community members in the offline world is known as blended networking. One of the reasons MySpace has been so successful is that when it first started, it’s original members were drawn together by the music scene. Fans would connect online and then join up at concerts in person. This activity helped build a great sense of place around their favorite bands.

eNeighbors can accomplish this exact same scenario, but rather than a band being the central point of interest, your neighborhood is the primary focus. eNeighbors creates a great sense of place within your community by fostering constant communication and openness in resident conversations not only with each other but also with the board of directors.

The great thing about all this open communication is that it helps to build a safe environment for you and your family. Everyone in the community is informed about what’s going on, and the social awareness is very high. Additionally, in case of an emergency, you are able to instantly alert the entire community.

At the end of the day, we all want to live in a great location with high property values, low crime and good schools. At eNeighbors, we are doing our best to make this happen in your community. After all, we want the same thing for our families.

Learn how to get your neighborhood online with eNeighbors

Web 2.0 Expo: Insider Update

David Spark of Spark Minute gives his insider update on what is “cool”and “not so cool” at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

I worked with David while I was at Sprint a couple years back. He helped us get podcasting and blogging off the ground for the B2B channel (a social media first for Sprint at that time). His insight and matter-of-fact observations are always very refreshing compared to most of the tech drivel in the media these days.

Check his site out.

eNeighbors Tips – Sign Up Process

The most critical step when setting up your new eNeighbors website is the sign up or “adoption” process. (More information about the sign up process is available in “How does it work?“. Through this process, you will register the majority of your neighborhood online.

The first step is to send out our Welcome Letter to your neighborhood announcing the website. This letter also contains a unique PIN number for each resident and instructions on how to access the site. We recommend that you make three mailings to the neighborhood.

20%-30% of the neighborhood will register with each mailing. By the third mailing, you should have between 60% and 80% adoption. (Note: eNeighbors is now offering to complete the mailings for you. This is still in the early stages of planning, but we should have the final word tomorrow.)

Interestingly enough, when we ask residents why they didn’t sign up after receiving the first mailing, the answer is always, “I never received the first mailing”. For this reason, it’s critical to send multiple mailings to ensure that you are reaching everyone. 

Aside from the mailings, there are other tactics that we recommend.

  1. Discontinue paper mailings – By giving people only one choice, they are more likely to sign up for the website. This can be a difficult decision for some neighborhoods since there is the feeling that not everyone has Internet access. Most residents appreciate the fact that you are saving them money. Our highest adoption rates are in communities that don’t send out paper newsletters.
  2. Post, post, post – The more information you post, the more valuable the website becomes. We have seen a direct correlation between site usage and adoption.  As neighbors talk to each other about what they read on the website, more people will sign up.
  3. Put it in the bill– Everyone receives their HOA dues. Drop a little note in the invoice reminding people to sign up.
  4. Use your current lines of communication– Use all current lines of communication to remind people about the new website. This can be “wipe boards”, the paper newsletter, board or community meetings, social event flyer’s, paper phone directories, and block captains.
  5. Get your property manager involved – Your property manager is alerted every time someone moves in and out of your neighborhood, making it easy for them to inform new residents of the website. Make sure that they include information about the website in their welcome packet to new residents.
  6. Provide online social event registration – For your next social event, be sure to use the event registration engine built into eNeighbors. Residents will sign up to take advantage of the convenience of registering for events online.
  7. When someone calls, say “go to the website” – residents often call board members or property managers with questions and concerns. Take the opportunity to tell them about the website. A common concern that neighbors phone in about is other neighbors not picking up after their pets. Now you can tell residents with this concern to “go to the website” and write a news article politely reminding people to pick up after their pets.
  8. Don’t have your PIN?– If a resident doesn’t have their PIN, tell them to go to “www.eneighbors.com forward slash pin” to request one. That’s www.eneighbors.com/pin.
  9. Leverage your current users– At a minimum you’ll have 20% of the neighborhood online with the first mailing. Ask for their help in spreading the word by posting a news article.
  10. Talk it up – As with anything, the best advertising is word-of-mouth. Be sure to talk with your neighbors about what you’re doing and encourage them to sign up.

As usual, we’re always open to suggestions and welcome your feedback. Feel free to comment or email me directly.

eNeighbors Tips

Now that we’ve been running in beta for about 6 weeks now, we’re beginning to receive enough feedback from our customers to understand where some of the common challenges are and how we can improve.

In an effort to help our customers make the most of their eNeighbors website, I’m going to start posting “eNeighbors Tips”, which will contain helpful information on topics like setup, adoption, and usage.  Look for my first post on the adoption process shortly.