Larry Brauner

List building is an essential part of online social networking, and Ning, if used properly, is a powerful list building tool.

Here are some strategies that I believe will help you with list building on Ning.

Creating Your Own Ning Network

You can create your own Ning social networking sites. Ning was designed with that end in mind. My new Ning site is Critical Thinking Outside the Box.

Your Ning site will help you to grow your online list virally, and you’ll be able to use the many channels that Ning social networks provide such as broadcasts, forum discussions, blog posts, private messages and profile comments to communicate with your list.

As tempting as it might be to start your own Ning social networking site as quickly as possible, I advise you to wait until you develop a substantial online following before taking that step.

I have seen many Ning sites die off from a lack of momentum. However, once you can personally enlist 100 to 200 people to become members of your site, you might very well be able to get it off the ground.

Joining Other People’s Ning Networks

You can start building a list by joining other people’s Ning sites. The best sites to join are those that attract the kinds of people you’re looking to meet online.

Don’t be afraid to join a new network that might not be right for you. You can always leave the network if you wish or you can create a profile, abandon it and move on. On the other hand you might really like what you find once you join, so if it looks interesting, give it a try.

When you join a site, you’ll be connected as friends with anybody there whom you befriended at another Ning site. This makes perfect sense, but it can work against you.

Messaging Restrictions on Ning Networks

You can only send messages to your friends, so of course you’ll want to add friends when you join a new site. You will be able to mail to them individually or as a group, but the latter is usually more effective.

Unfortunately, if you have more than a hundred friends at a site, Ning will not let you mail to them as a group. To avoid hitting the 100 limit, you should try to add about eighty friends max on each site.

Pre-existing friends will count against you. If you join a site, and you already have forty friends there, you’ll only be able to add forty new ones on that site before reaching your eighty target.

In addition, the overlap between this site and others will cause your friends to receive duplicate messages across networks each time you send an announcement.

Yet despite Ning’s messaging restrictions, you should eventually be able to directly mail to hundreds across all the networks to which you belong.

Exceeding the Messaging Limit

If you join a large Ning social networking site and end up with more than 100 friends there, you won’t be able to mail them as a group.

Don’t despair — add even more friends!

Later, when you find a site you really like or start your own Ning site, you’ll be able to invite friends from this site and others to which you belong all at one time using Ning’s “invite friends” feature.

You’ll even be able to invite them more than one time, as long as you don’t make a pest out of yourself.

Using Messaging to Build Your Brand

Don’t spam your friends. They’ll quickly tune you out.

Send useful information that positions you as a leader or as an authority. If you have a blog, you can send blog announcements to attract new readers and subscribers.

Eventually you’ll have the influence and following you need to start your own thriving Ning social networking site.

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15 Responses to “List Building Using Ning Social Networks”

  1. teasastips on January 5th, 2009 6:01 am

    Great info on cost effective list building. Thanks for the tip on the group mail limit.

  2. Steve @ Success Factors on January 5th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Larry, I agree with you about the value of social communities. The biggest challenge is being able to spend consistent time at each community in order to add value to that community. I would be interested in hearing about how you and your readers are doing this.

  3. Debbie Morgan on January 5th, 2009 3:56 pm

    Thanks, Larry! I picked up some very important information. I’ve never tried, but I guess you can’t set up groups like you can on FaceBook?

    It’s true, I’ve already tuned out many of the things I get from my friends on the various Ning sites. You’re not one of them though, Larry!

  4. Leroy on January 6th, 2009 12:15 am

    Thanks Larry! I got some very useful information! I like Ning social networking and want to do it now.

  5. Jeffrey D. on January 6th, 2009 12:23 am

    Larry,

    You are definitely one of the online marketers that “gets it”. I cannot wait to see how the success of Outside the Box grows. I will also create my own Ning site, the amount of time it will take is unknown. Either way, I will never forget that you introduced me into the Ning community and online marketing. I will continue to help promote Outside the Box and contribute as much as possible. Please let me know how I can help with the success of the site in any other way.

    Jeff

  6. Larry Brauner on January 6th, 2009 10:02 pm

    @Steve - Thank you for pointing out the importance of adding value to online communities. It’s important to be a good citizen, and it’s also important to brand yourself as a friend, leader or authority.

    However, from a practical point of view, I don’t suggest trying to actively contribute to more than a couple of networking sites. You have only so much time to devote to social networking. It is however necessary to belong to more than a couple of sites to implement my list building strategy.

    I develop one-to-one contact with network members whenever possible supplemented by non-commercial messages to all my friends at one time.

    @Debbie - Most Ning social networking sites do have groups. Give them a try.

  7. Nancy on February 4th, 2009 2:42 pm

    I have joined several Ning networks and in the settings indicated that I do not want to receive any mail from that network. I then set aside a block of time to visit those networks, interact and respond to comments.

    You can also “remove as a friend” across the various networks to eliminate some of the duplicates.

    If you are a network moderator, consider creating a group for updates (I have one called the Virtual Office);after a while people ignore your messages, so I make the updates and network notes available in a centralized location and minimize outgoing emails as much as possible.

  8. Larry Brauner on February 4th, 2009 2:53 pm

    Thanks for your remarks about Ning, Nancy.

    Your “Virtual Office” is a good idea. Vincent Wright is doing it on MyLinkingPowerForum.com.

    As far as removing friends to avoid duplicate messages, that doesn’t sit quite right with me. I’d rather leave it to them to remove me or to adjust their e-mail settings.

  9. Beamer on February 14th, 2009 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the info. I am getting a pretty good group of friends from here and there, and I am now thinking about starting my own Ning setup… If only I could find the time to pull it off.

    Beamer

  10. Jordaniel on May 25th, 2009 11:34 pm

    I wish I had seen this site before mine came up. I have 55 members…and they are getting bored.

    Great information here. I will learn and apply, should I last.

    Thank you.

  11. Create an Online Community or Simple Social Networking Website. Free. With Ning on August 18th, 2009 6:38 pm

    […] List Building Using Ning Social Networks Larry Brauner, Online Social Networking […]

  12. Sean Gharavi on September 10th, 2009 12:11 pm

    E-mailing a group you don’t “own” and are merely a member of for sales/marketing purposes is slowly becoming understood as spam. I think it depends on the group, so if they are open to having their group be used for list building, great!

  13. Larry Brauner on September 10th, 2009 3:06 pm

    I agree 100% Sean and don’t recommend that one adopt such a strategy.

  14. statistics help on September 23rd, 2009 1:07 am

    Very very good list of social networking sites. Probably the best so far i have seen on the internet.

    Thank you so much.

  15. link building servoces on December 1st, 2009 5:26 pm

    Looking deeper into this, Ning seems like a great way to reach out to your audience apart from your own website and a method of alternative marketing. Thanks for the tips!

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