Larry BraunerNing sites aren’t disappearing. Granted, many Ning sites will close when the new Ning plans and pricing go into effect on July 20. However, many other Ning sites will remain open. Roughly 15,000 Ning network creators have already demonstrated their interest by joining the new Ning Creators social network.

If your favorite Ning sites survive, continue to use them without hesitation. Chances are these Ning sites will offer greater functionality than they did in the past.

Ning Social NetworkIf, on the other hand, you’re a network creator seeking Ning alternatives, many alternative to Ning sites¬† exist. I intend to examine a variety of Ning alternatives over the weeks and months to come.

Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites

FacebookLast week I launched Fabulous Baby Boomers, a new Facebook group. I considered starting it on Ning or another social network hosting platform, but I chose to start my group on Facebook for four principal reasons:

  1. I wanted to test how well Facebook groups, a free alternative to Ning sites, might help me achieve my networking objectives.
  2. I believed that it would be easier to promote group membership and for that membership to spread virally on Facebook than elsewhere, since Facebook is the most active social web site.
  3. A Facebook group keeps my options open, since it doesn’t preclude the possibility of building a network on another social platform in the future. Rather, a Facebook group could help drive people to a new site.
  4. Growing Facebook groups could support other projects I have going or will initiate in the future on the Facebook social networking site.

Of course there are trade-offs, such as:

  • no subgroups within a Facebook group
  • no blogs as on Ning sites
  • very limited opportunities for Facebook group customization
  • you haven’t used Facebook much in the past, so you’ll have a learning curve and will need to develop influence on that site

Here are some important features of Facebook groups. You can:

  • broadcast newsletters directly to your members’ inboxes provided you don’t have 5,000 members or more, so limit your membership size if this feature is important to you
  • use “Invite People to Join” with discretion and encourage your members to do the same in order to bring new members into the group
  • create group events to liven things up, promote an event, build your brand or increase membership
  • use the discussion tab as you would use a forum

You can’t choose a vanity name for a Facebook group like you can for a Facebook profile or a Facebook page. I suggest that you buy a domain name and forward it to your Facebook group. I purchased the domain for my Facebook group. If you know any Baby Boomers, please tell them about this group.

Optimize Your Web PresenceI’m also launching a new blog site in a few days, Optimize Your Web Presence. The site is already up, and I hope you’ll stop by and check in.

If you have or will have a Facebook group, tell us about it in a comment below. You can also share whatever else you have on your mind. ;-)

Whether you prefer Facebook groups or Ning sites, I wish you complete success!

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16 Responses to “Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites”

  1. Chuck Bartok on June 20th, 2010 9:11 pm

    As always Larry, you are a treasure chest of solid advice and information.

  2. Shari Weiss on June 20th, 2010 9:36 pm

    Larry, I’d like to hear what kind of engagement among group members you can foresee.

    • Will you ask questions?
    • Will there be any kind of contests?
    • How about a gallery of grandbaby photos and videos?
    • Maybe even original poems or artwork?


  3. Larry Brauner on June 20th, 2010 9:41 pm

    @Chuck Thank you.

    @Shari Great ideas. I so happy you volunteered to be our engagement director. ;-)

  4. Morgan Mandel on June 20th, 2010 10:24 pm

    As soon as I heard about the monetizing, I set up a group at Facebook called Book Place, which is the name of my Ning group.

    Facebook is what’s happening these days anyway, and it’s free.

    The strange thing is that even though I have an announcement on the main page that the Ning group is closing, I’ve received 63 requests to be members, 10 of which were spam, but the rest I sent emails to about joining on Facebook.

    I have the link on my personal Facebook spot if anyone wants to join: Morgan Mandel on Facebook

  5. Kristy on June 20th, 2010 11:00 pm

    I have a personal Facebook page and have been considering creating a group page for my business blog. I am a member of a couple of Ning sites that I believe will be sticking around. This is good information and I can tell I am going to have to spend some more time reading your other articles too!

  6. Larry Brauner on June 21st, 2010 12:05 am


    The choice is between a Facebook business page and a Facebook group. If you’re looking to build your personal brand, a business/fan page is better. If the focus is on the subject matter exclusively, then a group might be better.

    I have a Larry Brauner Facebook fan page.

  7. Eli on June 21st, 2010 9:01 am

    Hi Larry,

    As one of those network creators who left Ning, I am looking at the groups alternative. However, once again the ownership of the data and info is one that I struggle with. Once on Facebook forever on Facebook, even if you leave, the data remains behind.

    But its an option in any case.

  8. Larry Brauner on June 21st, 2010 11:15 am

    Hi Eli,

    That’s why my self-hosted Wordpress blogs are at the center of my web presence.

    I look at social networking sites merely as outposts.

    But as far as being on Facebook forever, I meant to intimate in my article above that Facebook could be used as a springboard to help launch other social media sites.

  9. Welkin Capital Group on June 21st, 2010 12:45 pm

    Most bloggers, even when they’re giving advice, tend to see only one side of whatever they’re presenting. What makes your site so valuable is that you often give both sides of issue, even though you may favor one side over the other.

    Your honesty and sincerity area a welcome site on the sea of the overly hyped Internet.


  10. Steve on June 21st, 2010 3:52 pm

    I like Facebook groups, but the participation at the different groups seems to vary. For those who are engaged, joining some of those groups has been helpful to me in getting some engaged followers/readers for my content niche.

  11. New Blog Site | Facebook Groups | Optimize Your Web Presence on June 21st, 2010 5:56 pm

    […] Please celebrate my site launch with me by joining one of more of my Facebook groups and reading Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites. […]

  12. Jay Philips on June 21st, 2010 6:48 pm

    I am shutting down the All Realms site on Ning and planning on recreating it in WordPress. I have this feeling that FaceBook may end up being like Ning, start charging crazy amounts to have a group. I did pay for the pro site on Ning and they made everything public and raised the prices. Let us know how the FB group thing goes.

  13. Larry Brauner on June 21st, 2010 6:55 pm


    Shari Weiss asked me yesterday, “What do you know about BUDDY PRESS for our baby Boomers?”

    Here is how I replied:

    There’s a potential issue with turning your blog into a social network.

    If members will receive certain types of notifications by email or you will broadcast to your members, you will be subject to your hosting company’s daily message maximum.

    I believe that mine, Go Daddy, has a daily limit of 500 emails.

    Furthermore, the throughput of your emails will be problematic, as you can easily get blacklisted temporarily or permanently by ISPs.

    For this reason, I prefer to rely on professionally run social networks.

  14. robyn on July 7th, 2010 9:49 am

    Now I’m totally confused. Isn’t Ning going to be charging also from sometime in July? I love Ning, and I hope the groups I am with on Ning stay. Much better networking on Ning than Facebook even though I have a fan page on Facebook. We’re distributors of healthy home products.

    My question is how do you get Blogger to be clean and clear like WordPress? Do i have to delete all my page setups on Blogger or is there an updated blogger you can run to make it look like WordPress? I don’t want to move my blog from Blogger to Word Press. Also how do you put signatures onto Blogger. I Googled and did it according to the info on Google, but the signature is just sitting on the blog and not as an option to put it in the post instead of as a gadget on Blogger. I’m a bit confused.


  15. Larry Brauner on July 8th, 2010 1:43 am

    It’s funny you should ask about Blogger, as I just wrote an article, WordPress Blog Sites are Perfect for Your Small Business.

    I think you’ll need to find a different theme for your blog that appeals to you more. You’ll also need to do some tweaking.

    However, when all is said and done, it will never look completely like a Wordpress blog. It will always be branded to Blogger.

  16. New Facebook Groups for Better or Worse | Online Social Networking on May 8th, 2011 9:04 pm

    […] Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites […]

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