Yes, getting together for BBQs and pancake breakfasts is a great way to get to know those who live near you. But since most people also live their lives online, it makes sense to connect digitally as well.

Gone are the days of the telephone chain to let everyone know the latest goings-on in the neighborhood. Technology has brought us easier ways to keep people informed, safe and entertained. If one of these groups already exists for your area, join in the fun. And if no one has taken the initiative to connect all the neighbors online, here’s your opportunity to lead out.

An online group can be an efficient method of delivering information about everything from a big party to a rash of break-ins to a lost favorite toy. Plus, they’re a perfect venue for hyper-local classifieds and a one-stop shop for recommendations of all kinds.

Depending on the demographics of your neighborhood, one of the following online groups will be a great match. Check out their features and decide which one fits the vibe of your hood.

Facebook groups

While it may not have the cool factor for Gen Z, Facebook is still the most used social network by far. Adobe recommends using Facebook (with nearly three billion users) and its groups as a way to organically create conversation and engage with other users. Before starting your Facebook group, consider the purpose so you can easily explain it in the description. Include a cover photo and start adding members.

Make sure to write up some group rules so members know what’s allowed. As the creator of the group, you can also choose the privacy setting. You can decide to make a public group where even nonmembers can read posts, a private group that still allows others to search for the group, or a private and hidden group that allows membership by invitation only. You can change this setting later. Facebook has some great tools on how to get started on its Facebook community page.

Nextdoor

Nextdoor touts itself as a private social network for your area, with more than 300,000 neighborhoods already participating on the app. Features such as Events and For Sale & Free help keep everyone connected. When you create a group, decide whether it will be available to just your neighborhood, your nearby neighborhoods or your entire city. Then decide whether to have an open group which allows anyone who lives within the boundaries to join or a private group which requires people to request to join.

Note that after you make a decision on privacy, you will not be able to change that setting. All members must verify their address by either matching their mobile phone’s billing address with the location or via geolocation.

Nextdoor offers a feature called Sell for Good which allows neighbors to sell products or items that directly benefit local nonprofits. Think of it as a valuable way to easily launch a local fundraiser to support a specific effort. Also, know that all members who sign up must agree to a Kind Neighbor Pledge. A Kindness Reminder automatically detects offensive language and encourages the author to edit before posting. Check out its Help center for details on creating a Nextdoor group.

GroupMe

This app is a simple way to stay connected and you’re able to make groups for anyone; a group of friends, teammates or neighbors. It’s like a huge group text where you can add anyone just by using their email address or phone number. You can be a member of multiple groups and create topics within a group to keep track of different discussions.

While you can add up to 5000 members to any group, remember that the chat is automatically reply-all. Even GroupMe groups larger than 200 people can get noisy. Remember that it is possible in Settings to pause or even turn off notifications. GroupMe has easy to follow instructions on starting a group.

The pandemic drove us all inside, often shrinking away from neighborhood and community involvement. If someone has already started an online group for your neighbors, join in. And if it doesn’t exist yet, decide which of these apps will work best for your area and reach out. Create a space where neighbors can communicate and help each other feel seen, safe and part of something special.