This is not the first Ning Social Network Controversy and probably not the last one either.
In Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff on TechCrunch, Jason Rosenthal, the new CEO of Ning, revealed that his company will let go of staff and discontinue hosting free social networking sites – both in an attempt to bolster Ning’s bottom line.
In an update on Ning Creators, Mr. Rosenthal wrote that Ning will cater to users of its premium services who “represent over 75% of our traffic,” and that he would announce the details of the changes on May 4.
To address the mounting concerns of Ning’s free site creators, he also wrote, “We recognize that there are many active Ning Networks for teachers, small non-profits, and individuals, and it’s our goal to have a set of product and pricing options that will make sense for all of them.”
My Take on Ning
I personally have been unhappy and hurt by many changes to the Ning social network in the past half-year or so. Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that I completely support whatever Ning decides to do with its business.
After all, Ning exists to generate a profit and return on investment. If Ning believes that changes — no matter how radical they may be — are required to improve its service and increase its likelihood of success, Ning must effect those changes.
Many Ning social networking sites will close down rather than upgrade. I’ll be sorry to see some of them go. However, there will inevitably be more broken links than broken hearts, since most free sites with active members will upgrade and pay.
I’ll close some of my own Ning networks that are providing little benefit and open other Ning sites.
Alternatives to Ning
A few good free alternatives exist for Ning site creators who prefer not to upgrade:
- SocialGo - Says on their website that their free social networking sites are “free forever.” It will take effort to get your network started again, but this looks like the best choice as of now.
- Facebook - A Facebook group isn’t a bad alternative. You’ll need to change your networking paradigm, but in the end, you may be able to attract far more members from within Facebook.
- LinkedIn - If your network is business oriented, a group on LinkedIn could make sense too.
- Ning - Start a group within a premium Ning social network. You already understand the Ning platform. If you can find the right home for your group, it will benefit both you and the creator of that Ning site, a win-win situation for both of you.
Let’s all wait until after May 4 to decide upon a course of action.
Have any thoughts about Ning or a good alternative to Ning you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below.
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