Larry BraunerWhen 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 once completed would allow people to create and manage their own miniature MySpace-like social networking sites.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. You can customize your page’s theme and embed videos and widgets just as you might on MySpace and many other social networking sites.
  6. 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:

  1. Most Ning sites have very small memberships that are just a little too cozy for marketers like me building their lists.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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33 Responses to “Ning Social Networking Sites”

  1. Mike Foster on August 15th, 2008 10:49 am

    One of my favorite Ning sites is Iowa Avenue, a social networking site dedicated to fitness and health. This is a fast-growing network that is worth checking out.

    While you’re at it, drop by my site and watch my latest funny music video, I Miss My Hair.

    Peace,
    Mike

  2. Andrea Goodsaid on August 15th, 2008 10:54 am

    Nice review Larry!

    I think what I like best about Ning is that it presents an incredible opportunity to create a community that is valuable to your niche.

    An “even playing field” to become part of the “voice” of your industry.

    It’s probably #3 on your pet peeve list there that will make or break any community. People need to feel safe to bring others to any space organically.

    Mike Dillard has taken an interesting approach in his new version of Magnetic Sponsoring called, Better Networker.

    It’s not a ning community per se, but it’s not far off format-wise … he’s chosen to offer a point based reward system for bringing content to the community.

    It’ll be interesting to see just what kind of content that attracts, eh?

    Thank-you for all of your efforts to bring good information to your readers.

    I appreciate you!
    Andrea
    NaturalNetworkers.com on Ning

  3. Larry Brauner on August 15th, 2008 11:24 am

    Andrea,

    I’m also a member of the Better Network social networking site that Mike Dillard of Magnetic Sponsoring just launched.

    I uploaded several of my podcasts. Let’s see what happens.

  4. Margareth Osju on August 15th, 2008 12:15 pm

    Well, I’m as a Ning user. I think Ning is fantastic. The possibility to create a personal website and the possibility to create networks and the easy way to link from Ning-user to Ning-user is great . I’m an artist, so I’m talking about how it works for me and for many other artists.

    So, I am a Ning fan.. :)

    And please sorry for my English, but I saw that you wrote about Ning, and I wanted to give my reflection. Visit Margareth Osju on Ning and you will understand how easy you can create an artistic social networking website.. :)

    All the best from Sweden
    Margareth

  5. Larry Brauner on August 15th, 2008 12:29 pm

    I met Margareth last year on Yuwie. I’m very happy to hear from her today.

    Please visit her beautiful Ning social networking site.

  6. Rodger Bailey on August 15th, 2008 1:16 pm

    I use Ning with many different sites for multiple niches.

    I teach a course about online social network marketing and it is based on and in Ning. You are right. There are many folks who have created a Ning site and are the only member. But for me, they are my niche and need to learn how to build their site.

    One of the things I like is that you can create 10 Ning social network sites for each unique email account you have on file with Ning.

    Larry, I don’t have difficulty with the unanswered “add requests”. It is easy to go to my Ning control panel and prune my excess requests to which people have not responded.

    All in all, I’m really impressed with Ning, and I’m a great fan.

    Rodger Bailey
    Tinkers Academy Activities on Ning

  7. Gary Rocha on August 15th, 2008 2:17 pm

    Hi Larry -

    I am relatively a new comer to Ning, so I’m not that well versed in the pros and cons.

    But in the short time since signing up, I am quite happy despite the confusion with navigating at the beginning.

    It is being used as one of the two platforms for Tinkers Academy Activities (Special Projects). Thus as a student, I am learning more of the various functions.

    Currently I am doing one of the study assignments; setting up five Ning accounts. Since each requires a different email address, I am also learning how to set up Googles @gmail.com to facilitate this.

    Thanks for this opportunity to comment. Also thank you for your invitation via Sta.rtUp.Biz to read your blog.

    Gary

  8. I.C. Jackson on August 15th, 2008 5:26 pm

    Ning is one of those social networking sites that you’ve just got to love - until you get totally overwhelmed by it!

    I made the mistake of joining too many networks when I first became a member, and I didn’t follow through with any of them. Now, I am more focused on the smaller, more closely knit niche networks - those kinds of networks make Ning the powerful tool that it is. People who have very specific interests can get together online and make real connections and progress within their niche.

    In this vein, I even started a Ning network for a very small group of people; Environmentalist Republicans! It can be found at Green Elephants on Ning, and although it’s small, it has already allowed me to connect with like-minded people, and I really enjoy that.

    Thanks for this post, Larry :-)

  9. Larry Brauner on August 15th, 2008 5:44 pm

    Thank you Ivo.

    For the benefit of readers who don’t know Ivo Jackson, Ivo writes and publishes the Home Biz Marketing blog and recently launched a Squidoo 60-day Challenge.

    I’m rooting for Ivo in her quest to become a Big Squid.

  10. Vincent Wright on August 15th, 2008 9:01 pm

    Great thoughts on Ning, Larry.

    Like your post and like your blog, too.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and have joined many of the social networking sites mentioned in the comments to your post.

    I agree with you that Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini have given end-users a lot more power to develop communities than was imaginable just a few short years ago.

    As a Ning fan, I’ve set up a community there which has slightly over 3,100 members in our first 4 or 5 months. Because it’s called My Linking Power Forum, I set up over 100 groups on the site, suitable for the needs of most professional networkers. I believe you may already be a member. If not, please stop by and introduce yourself and your blog - there’s group there called Linking Bloggers.

    Look forward to reading more of your articles on Online Social Networking.

    Keep STRONG!

    Vincent
    My Linking Power Forum on Ning

  11. Margareth Osju on August 16th, 2008 1:37 am

    Oh, thank you, Larry, for kind words about my website. Nice to read that you like it! The site is still under construction. I have some ideas, well I have a lot of ideas, about how the site shall look.

    I used to read your blogs, I mean, I’m not a marketing person but I’m trying to learn. It’s never to late to learn something new, right? Maybe one day I’ll learn how to sell artwork online. :)

    Since I started a blog outside Sweden I’m really learn about a lot of things. And I’m meeting fantastic people as well. I think my English is starting to be a little bit better. Well, I do hope so.. :) …even if I feel like I rape the language every time. And I do hope that my English teacher never, never starts surfing around the world.

    I’m still on Yuwie because I do like the tools there too, and it’s interesting to see how it’s getting better. I’m there as a socializing bloger.

    Best wishes, and I wish you a peaceful and pleasant weekend,
    Margareth

  12. Jim - medXcentral on August 16th, 2008 12:59 pm

    First.. thanks to Larry for mentioning my site in his article. Now a couple of Ning things. Please keep in mind… I do not write computer code and I’ve started my business, among an industry of giants, with slightly less than zero cash… so everything I do has basically had to be free and easy to use. Here’s why I chose Ning for the community aspect of my organization…

    1.) Ning allows network creators to operate a commercially based site.. ummm.. free.

    2.) Ning allots a huge amount of storage and bandwidth … ummm.. free.

    3.) You can embed videos uploaded to your network.. anywhere.. free. I use this function for tutorials and presentations on my other sites. And, the quality comes out better than when uploaded to YouTube. (Note.. I still, of course, maintain a YouTube channel called medxcentral.)

    And.. if you can swing $20 per month.. you can run ads on your Ning network and earn revenue. Yeh.. twenty bucks and you can run ads… are you kidding me?

    I’d like to add that, in all of my searching (and I did a lot of searching to find the social networking platform which fit my business needs), I was not able to find anything equal. And, I mean feature/advantage to feature/advantage.. nothing was equal… especially for the price.

    Now.. because of the open networking structure of the Ning platform.. it does, in fact, open your activity on any specific Ning social network (besides the Ning social network I created, I’m a member at 60 others) to that which would or could be considered spam. But, I’m an opportunist. So.. I tolerate a lot. And, I block those who abuse their connection with me. Simple.. you just have to learn the system… and also learn to play nice in the sandbox with others.

    And, as a network creator… I’m currently brainstorming the rules for my Ning social network and how I’m going to make sure each member knows what the rules are, what the consequences for breaking them are, and how to report someone for breaking the rules. I’ll also show them how to leverage the rules properly so they get what they want out of the network’s membership. That way, the community can police itself and “should” be able to maintain the proper atmosphere. I believe that will be one of the greatest challenges for any social networking site.

    In closing… please remember how I opened this comment. I’m a low to no budget start-up right now. Issues you hear me wrestling with are the issues that other, much larger network operators (like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn).. with multi-million dollar budgets… are also wrestling with. I get to do it for free… and with all the control.. because of Ning. That’s what simply blows me away. Just think of what you could do around whatever interest YOU have. Very, very, very powerful.

    Thanks for reading this.
    Kindly,
    - Jim

    medXcentral on Ning
    (Networking the Medical and Healthcare Universe)

    The Candidate Network
    (The Online Privacy and Safe Job Search Headquarters for Medical Professionals)

    Health Care Recruiters Online
    (Medical employers and recruiters can post jobs free and find medical job Seekers free through the Medical Staffing Exchange)

  13. Rebecca Beasley on August 16th, 2008 1:32 pm

    Great blog Larry. As always your information is right on target!

    My favorite Ning social network site has to be Sta.rtup.Biz because my article on Common Networking Mistakes made it to the second place in just a few days there. That really got me excited and I’m getting comments almost contantly from this one article.

    Yeah there are a few who just post comments to get their own links in but that’s okay. People are beginning to see that that’s not the way to do things and that’s what I was after when I wrote the article. If it helps just one marketer to do better and market more efficiently, then I’m happy.

  14. Mitch on August 16th, 2008 8:10 pm

    My biggest gripe about Ning is that it’s very slow; seems slower than Facebook to load. I will say, though, that the people have been very nice, and there’s a lot more information shared than on Facebook, or one of my earlier favorites, Ryze.

  15. catwoman1459 on August 16th, 2008 10:04 pm

    I love Ning, it’s a great way to make friends and share our ideas. I also have my own Ning community, Friends Helping Friends is a community of friends with the common goal to earn online from programs that are free to join — or do not cost more than $50 to join.

  16. Robert Trueman on August 17th, 2008 5:34 am

    Hi Larry -

    I like Ning because it is built on people’s ideas and trying to share a common interests.

    You have know me for a long time. I have built blogs had classes on blogging to share idaes and also help my team earn money.

    I think Ning social networking sites are a place to help people grow as friends and as a team.

    Keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,
    Robert Trueman

  17. Annet de Graaf on August 17th, 2008 9:44 am

    UR Amazing! is a new Dutch event network for people aged 35 and up. We started a week ago and next week we will launch it officially to the press. We have over 100 members. I like Ning because it is simple and has many options for our members. At this moment enough, but I am interested in future development of the software.

    Regards
    Annet
    UR Amazing! at Ning

  18. Debbie Morgan on August 17th, 2008 12:07 pm

    Hi Larry! Thanks for this great blog!

    Other than the little area at the top of the page that appears and disappears when you click on the envelope and profile icons, Ning sites are very user friendly. Even the above mentioned problem is not really a problem once figured out, but I’ve had other friends clueless about it too.

    I enjoy all of the Ning social networking sites I’m on, and I’m on them for different purposes. I really like how my friends list follows me from one Ning site to another.

    Thanks to you and Rodger Bailey for all the great education about social marketing that you both are providing to me as a small web site owner! God bless you guys. :)

  19. Joseph L. Rosenberg on August 17th, 2008 4:50 pm

    Larry: Private messages sent on a Ning social network don’t always identify the recipient when you review your sent message folder. Instead you get a series of letters and numbers making it impossible to see to whom you have written. Also at most Ning sites you must be a friend first to send a private message. Originally you didn’t have to be a friend to send a private message, but that was a change made a year or two ago.

  20. Linda P. Morton on August 18th, 2008 9:24 am

    Larry,

    You’ve written another very informative post, and your readers recognize it. I think this is already your 20th comment on it. That’s an accomplishment in my opinion.

    Of course, it’s also a testimony to your expertise in marketing using social networking sites.

    You know I’m a fan.

  21. kharis on August 21st, 2008 9:28 pm

    Ning is very good social networking community. My friends are using it for a long time. Maybe I too can be part of it.

    Thanks very much!

  22. Laura on September 9th, 2008 6:31 am

    Good Job Larry,

    I just joined Sta.rtup.Biz a few days ago but already I feel comfortable with the site. I have tried many other networking sites and this one is by far the best. It’s very user friendly (even for beginners). I would recommend it to all my business associates.

    Laura

  23. Jonathan Harvey on September 15th, 2008 9:33 pm

    Great Review Larry,

    Ning was love at first “site” for me.

    About one minute after I stumbled on Ning I created BusinessLight.ning.com, a Ning social network devoted to the idea that people like doing business with people they know.

    I love it!
    Jonathan

  24. Morgan Mandel on October 7th, 2008 7:36 am

    Just wanted to mention my Ning networking sites.

    At Book Place, more than 1300 members comprised of authors, readers, publishers, reviewers, librarians, media consultants and other book people share thoughts and promote books.

    My new Ning social network, Sixty and Savvy is devoted to those close to or over sixty, where we share memories, fads, old photos and tips on surviving in today’s world.

    Everyone is welcome to join.

  25. Larry Brauner on October 10th, 2008 10:54 am

    One of the early commenters on this article was Vincent Wright, founder of the Ning social network My Linking Power Forum.

    I want to share his excitement and pleasure at having his Ning site featured on the Ning Blog.

    Way to go Vincent!

    Would also like to mention that this article, “Ning Social Networking Sites”, was my first post to be picked up by Reuters.

    You can view it at Ning Social Networking Sites on Reuters

    If you have a favorite Ning social network that hasn’t been mentioned so far, please feel free to comment and add it.

  26. Terri Weston on October 13th, 2008 7:46 am

    We created a team building Ning social network for both our members and those who have questions about our team building.

    Thanks to all who posted their Ning pages. We would love to network with all of you.

  27. louis jeffries on October 15th, 2008 12:42 pm

    I am a member of My Private Classroom as well as many other Ning social networks, including My Linking Power Forum and Sta.rtUp.Biz.

    My issue is attracting new members to my Ning site. It takes a lot of work to introduce a new social networking site.

    Once it grows the Ning concept is very good for its members and site creators because not only is it a place for social networking, it can also be income producing.

    If you are a Realtor, homeowner or looking to buy a home check out Rehab Your Home Network - The Rehab Mortgage Place, and the information will help you.

  28. jmarco on October 19th, 2008 12:19 am
    Directory of Ning Networks - Matching Ning Networks with Members

    #1 Directory of Ning Networks - Find Your Perfect Social Community - Preview 500+ Great Ning Social Networks

  29. Jeffrey D. on October 26th, 2008 3:27 am

    Ning sites are incredible! I am hooked and love the idea.

    Unfortunately, I have been getting an incredible amount of SPAM mails from certain “friends” on the sites.

    Beware of whom you become friends with. Some people are looking for nothing more than to load your email with the same old “junk” messages. It can become nauseating at times.

    My favorite ning sites include: #1 My Private Classroom, #2 The Elite Team Network #3 Sta.rtUp.Biz.

    A lot of the sites are partial to their own businesses. These 3 are the most SPAM free sites, although Sta.rtUp.Biz is becoming more like Direct Matches. I hope it does not fall into the category of some of these other Ning sites.

    The Elite Team is doing GREAT things, and may be my #1 in the future. As of now, MPC really sticks to their standards, you have to respect it.

  30. Larry Brauner on November 8th, 2008 8:31 pm

    Since I posted this article there have been many changes on Ning sites. You can read about them in Ning Social Networking Sites Update.

    I also started a new Ning social networking site, Critical Thinking Outside the Box.

  31. Mocazo Club on November 26th, 2008 8:19 am

    What can you do on the Mocazo Club Ning social network?

    On Mocazo Club, you can show your talents, chat with all your friends, download free mobile stuff, write blogs, submit articles, upload your latest events, upload videos, participate in forums, create your own play list, share photos, play free online games and more!

  32. Ceri Shaw on December 14th, 2008 2:17 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with many of the points you make about Ning Networks.

    I would like to add that they are fairly easily integrated with a static website or blog and can give you enormous advantages in terms of content generation.

    A downside which you don’t mention is the lack of fine-grained administrative controls. All moderators have practically the same rights as the site creator. There is no provision for gradual escalation of privileges based on experience and growth of trust.

    Also it isn’t possible to put miscreants in the “deep-freeze” as it is on some other forums etc.

    Hopefully these issues will be addressed in future updates.

    All in all though…its a great platform.

  33. Hanna Kiniones on October 2nd, 2010 3:47 am

    There are so many marketing websites that can be used and they have similar functions. It will depend on the user on what Ning site he or she will be using.

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