What you already know: Social Media is changing the way people interact.
So many people have dreams of becoming the next big website to compete with Facebook; yet sometimes you can’t predict what exactly will go viral.
One thing Facebook is lacking; however, is the ability to connect within your community. Local businesses and neighbors might be on the website but there isn’t much of a way to reach out to a certain proximity unless you create a list or use the location setting to target down to a certain city (if you own a page.) That means searching for people or businesses near you and takes up a lot of your time.
Introducing: My Virtual Neighbor
First things first. I want to fully disclose that I am interning for My Virtual Neighbor. Yes, I work for this website but I’m writing these opinions as my own. It’s important you know this because I choose to abide by certain ethical standards of the Public Relations industry, two of which pertain to this post: transparency and honesty. To find out more about the PRSSA Code of Ethics, click here.
Virtual Neighbor? That sounds… like an easy way for creepers to find you.
This was my first reaction. I stared the founder point-blank in the face and told him it sounded like a stalker’s dream. His words to me were “quite the contrary!” and the conversation began. The cool part is yes, you sign up with your neighborhood, apartment complex, or office building to make connections but no one gives their specific address. You can even choose the radius of connections- for example, how many miles away you’d like to reach out.
As you can see, mine is currently set to a 7-mile radius.
So- how do you protect yourself? What about privacy?
This is probably the best question to ask when signing up for any website.
My Virtual Neighbor gives you three privacy settings- from completely private with a nickname and avatar to an open profile, with the ability to be completely customized. You can zoom in to this picture and see that I have mine on the moderate privacy setting. Not too open, but not too closed.
If you want to learn about people around you, what’s going on in the neighborhood and nearby places but don’t want to talk to people until you know them well enough to feel comfortable, these settings allow you to do so.
And for people who are in a very private community, you may not want every person within the radius to join- just those specifically in your neighborhood. MVN allows you request a private access code.
Why should I join another site?
Exactly my thoughts. I spend time being active on quite a few, so why jump on another? It was that first conversation with Founder Amit Mehta that hooked me.
It was a summer day in 2011.
I opened my door just like any other day, tossed my keys to the side and my apartment was empty. Drawers were open and clothes were lying on the floor. I had collected a few show pieces and they were gone. My electronics were gone. All that was left behind were bits of cords and clothes. I didn’t know how to react- I had received notices about safety and tossed them in the trash. The only action to take was to report the crime and wait.
But waiting wasn’t his style.
Amit took another course of action. He couldn’t necessarily fight back, but he learned the importance of proactive response. He couldn’t help thinking if he had a close-knit community with his neighbors that this wouldn’t have happened. So he searched for ways to connect with his neighbors and ultimately decided to create a way. He launched My Virtual Neighbor and talked about the idea to his neighbors. Most of them agreed and within 10 weeks, My Virtual Neighbor helped reduce crime by 80% on his block alone, according to Houston Police Department reports.
Once Amit saw the success on his block, he figured MVN could help other blocks, too. The Mayor of Houston heard about the potential and threw her support in, along with Crimestoppers. You can even report a crime, with a link right on your profile.
If you are a pet lover, you’re going to love this next feature.
So I had to add my puppy right away of course.
This will allow for two things:
1) I can meet people around me who also have dogs.
2) If Tucker were to go missing, my neighbors would already be familiar with him, know his name and the likelihood that he returns will increase significantly.
Along with this feature are a few others that are great:
-the ability to post events, trade items, coupons in the neighborhood and news
-Mouse over your neighbor’s image icon to see their buddy list
-the ability to sign up as an interest group. For example: As a Fraternity, Doggy Bloggers, Senior citizen outreach, religious group, whatever your interests include!
And here are screenshots of MVN features!