When Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini started their work on the Ning social network back in 2004, online social networking was still pretty much a teen thing. True there were marketers like yours truly making a home on Ryze and other business networking sites, but we were the exception rather than the rule.
Ning’s founders probably envisioned a platform on which families and circles of friends would stay in close contact through their very own private social networking site. However, since launching 18 months ago, Ning has found its way into the business world as well as many other sectors of society.
You can start your own plain vanilla Ning social network for free, or for a fee you can exercise greater control over your site and add lots of bells and whistles.
Examples of Ning Social Networking Sites
In Web lifeline for the troops, the Naperville Sun writes that two local men, Ed Domain and Josh Lowe, launched Troop Space, a Ning-based networking site for the brave men and women of the United States Military. Troop Space “is geared toward US troops, their families and anyone who wants to become more personally connected to the military”.
Jim at medXcentral started his Ning community to network “the medical and health care universe” and to “stimulate great achievements and forward motion towards resolving many issues faced by the medical industry today”.
Diane Hochman built the online headquarters for My Private Classroom on the Ning foundation. I joined My Private Classroom several months ago to learn more about social media and to introduce free and low-cost marketing methods to network and direct marketers.
You can now participate in Diane’s social marketing training program for free. Read My Private Classroom Opens to Public for details.
I created the Ning social network Critical Thinking Outside the Box as a companion to this blog, and you are welcome to join me there.
What I Like About Ning Sites
From a user’s point of view here are some of my favorite Ning features:
- When you make a friend at one Ning site and you each belong to another Ning site, you’re connected at the other site too.
- You can browse friends and friends-of-friends and so forth to see what other Ning networks people belong to. In this way you can discover new and relevant places to network. While many Ning sites are private, there seem to be just as many sites that are open to the public. You can also browse Ning’s list of popular social networks.
- You can broadcast a message to all of your friends at any given Ning site. Be careful not to abuse this privelege. Spamming is not effective, and network administrators will typically not tolerate it. This broadcasting feature has allowed me to attract readers to my blog and gain new subscribers.
- In some Ning social networks you can also broadcast messages to fellow members of groups you join. This feature encourages spam and is therefore disabled on many Ning sites.
- You can customize your page’s theme and embed videos and widgets just as you might on MySpace and many other social networking sites.
- Much of your profile content can be taken from an existing site and easily reused when joining a new site.
And What I Don’t Like
Here are some of my least favorite Ning features:
- Most Ning sites have very small memberships that are just a little too cozy for marketers like me building their lists.
- A very high percentage of profiles are abandoned, so you can end up with lots of unaccepted friend requests. At some point you may need to delete some friend requests in order to remain eligible to make new requests.
- Very many Ning sites are not much more than recruiting pipelines and sales funnels for the sites’ owners. I find this aspect of Ning annoying, but I tolerate it. For this reason I’m slow to invite friends and business connections to join me on new Ning sites. I want to wait and see if the site is a safe enough place to bring them.
Show and Tell Opportuinity
You can find some of the many social networking sites to which I belong featured on my blog’s sidebar.
Do you have favorite Ning social networking sites? Have you started your own Ning social network? Do you have an interesting story to tell?
Feel free to comment and share with us.
Keep in mind that I’m responsible for the quality of my blog and legally responsible for its content. I therefore reserve the right to edit any comment as I see fit.
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