Larry BraunerYesterday, May 4, 2010, was a very sad day for social media and Web 2.0. We all suffered a tremendous loss.  Yesterday was the day that Ning died.

No, Ning, the company, did not die; Ning, the company, is still very much alive, and many Ning social networking sites are alive as well, looking forward to upcoming Ning changes this July.

However, yesterday, Ning, the concept, was laid to rest.

A preliminary autopsy all but ruled out foul play. It suggested instead that perhaps too much user abuse and too little user engagement aggravated the Ning concept and hastened its sad demise.

Ning Social Networking SitesThe Ning concept was beautiful and elegant, a network of social networks.

Not only were contributions of social network end users Web 2.0 content, the individual social networks themselves were Web 2.0 content within the Ning meta social network.

The Ning concept leaves behind thousands of Ning social network creators seeking new homes. Many homes are ready to take them in but cannot accommodate them to the extent that Ning and the late Ning concept had accommodated them in the past.

Nevertheless, bereaved Ning social network creators who loved the Ning concept maintain hope for the future.

Ning concept, 2007-2010, rest in peace. :-(

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30 Responses to “Social Media Mourns the Death of Ning”

  1. Diane on May 5th, 2010 2:03 pm

    ..not to mention that Ning’s CEO, Nina Bianchini stepped down in March to join the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz.

  2. Larry Brauner on May 5th, 2010 2:09 pm

    Wonder Diane whether that change foreshadowed the current change.

  3. Pam Moore on May 5th, 2010 2:23 pm

    Hello Larry. This is really too bad. I think it is a reminder to us all that we can not put all of our social eggs in one network basket ;) When it is not our network we can’t control it.

    So what networks are you considering as a move?

    Best of luck to all affected!

    PamMktgNut

  4. Eunice on May 5th, 2010 2:34 pm

    This little quote from your post says it all:

    “…perhaps too much user abuse and too little user engagement aggravated the Ning concept and hastened its sad demise.”

    I joined a number of Ning networks and tried to participate usefully with meaningful content. Unfortunately, my voice and those of like-minded people got drowned out by the spammers looking for new recruits for their mlm biz.

    Maybe if the Ning group creators had been more vigilant in watching over the content and joiners, it wouldn’t have turned out that way?

    It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

    Eunice

  5. Teasastips on May 5th, 2010 2:40 pm

    So sad Larry. I believe the concept was good, and a void exists. Wonder what the cost would be to take the Ning concept and enhance it so that it becomes profitable?

  6. John A. Fallone on May 5th, 2010 2:49 pm

    I predict that over time, Ning itself will mourn the death of Ning. Ning had positioned itself in a unique category–enabling entities to build their own social networks, embedded within the overall Ning social network.

    By altering the original “brainchild” toward a three-tier, pay-only subscription model, Ning no longer “owns” the very niche they had pioneered.

    Rather than fostering a competitive advantage, Ning’s new policy has created a void that will open the door to increasing competitive forces that will further erode Ning’s previously distinctive flavor in the social networking arena.

  7. Ed Hubbard on May 5th, 2010 2:53 pm

    As a Ning network operator, I am looking forward to the changes. Certainly the spammer situation has grown to outrageous levels, and is the hardest part. Also Facebook emergence as the Social Media of choice has dragged a lot of people away.

    As I tell everyone “Love the Message, not the Platform”.

    One thing that did happen and not mentioned was the me-too situation. Once you set up a network, you were quickly copied and why not, it was free without restrictions. This did not allow many of the social networks to reach much needed critical mass.

  8. Clyde Lerner on May 5th, 2010 3:02 pm

    You mean the company actually wants money for providing a service? Hersey, I say! You’d think this is America, home of capitalism or something like that.

  9. Morgan Mandel on May 5th, 2010 3:14 pm

    I’ve already begun disbanding Book Place on Ning, since I refuse to pay a premium. There’s no saying it won’t become higher with time and I’m not going to go around collecting from members.

    I know some Ning network creators make a good buck by charging for ads and such, but I refuse to go that route.

    I’ve set up a Group at Facebook with the same name, Book Place, and our members can still interact with each other. Facebook is the going place to be now anyway. Ning has never been as popular.

    Morgan Mandel
    morganmandel.blogspot.com
    www.facebook.com/morgan.mandel

  10. Larry Brauner on May 5th, 2010 6:03 pm

    @Pam I haven’t ruled out Ning. I’m still weighing my options.

    My main social networking site is Facebook, but I use other social networking sites as well. I also use social bookmarking sites.

    @Eunice We shall see.

    @LaTease Right now the virtual world is Facebook centered. Facebook is a formidable force to contend with.

    @John Very astute!

    @Ed Nearly everything you do successfully in the business world will be copied or improved upon.

    @Clyde As John said, Facebook’s changes may backfire.

    @Morgan Good luck! As I mentioned to Pam, I’m not finished with Ning by any means. :-)

    @Jim Thanks for your insight.

  11. Catherine White on May 5th, 2010 6:36 pm

    Unlike the social media darling Facebook, Ning is elegant and simple. Facebook’s woes are only just beginning, what with Capital Hill now beating it’s privacy chest.

    Transition is always awkward, but it’s too early to rule out Ning.

    When Facebook’s bauble bursts, members will be looking for more secure options.

    I Like NING!

  12. Charlie Hanna on May 5th, 2010 6:39 pm

    I wonder why Ning hasn’t just charged a fee for premium services, rather than just dropping all the ‘free’ services. I really believe they’ve made a mistake which might cause their demise.

  13. Steve-Personal Success Factors on May 5th, 2010 6:48 pm

    Is it possible that this was Ning’s plan all along, to provide a free service, build the communities, then start charging?

  14. Tim Southernwood on May 5th, 2010 6:52 pm

    Hi All,

    Thanks Larry for your continued quality posts, I really enjoy them!

    In this case I’m going to risk disagreeing with the viewpoint that social media is “mourning” the passing of Ning.

    In fact, I think that mostly only the dedicated Ning users, those who put in many countless hours posting and participating are those who are mourning. The rest of Social Media is blithely continuing on with barely a notice, maybe a tweet or two at the most.

    Others will and have quickly picked up most of those quickly jumping the Ning ship, Amplify being one of the beneficiaries (and a very worthy one at that!)

    Ning was just too much for me personally in the scope of things with so many other choices, and I think that rang true for the majority of others, otherwise we might not be speaking eulogies of Ning, but rather praises for it’s continued success.

    I feel sorry that all the hard work people contributed to their efforts on Ning is now in vain, but such is the Internet. Sites come and sites go.

    One person commented that Ning serves a good example why NOT to place so many of your “social marketing eggs” into one basket.

    I have to agree.

    Find me now on Amplify .

  15. Welkin Capital Group on May 5th, 2010 6:57 pm

    Your information is always impeccable, but what makes your blog so readable is that you have great style.

    All I can add is, “Well, bye-bye Miss American Pie.”

    Jack Goldenberg

  16. Larry Brauner on May 5th, 2010 7:06 pm

    @Catherine I still like Ning. I like Facebook even more.

    @Charlie Ning has been charging a fee for premium services. Apparently, there haven’t been enough takers, and advertising revenue hasn’t been sufficient.

    @Tim Stop being so pragmatic. ;-)

    @Jack Thank you for your kind words, and your solo. :-)

  17. David Alexander on May 5th, 2010 7:44 pm

    This seems like much ado about very little, although I agree the concept did not work out (my reasons, below).

    I checked the Ning plans… a small network will cost $2.95 a month, although that is limited in membership and customization. I think what I disagree with is their price point… many people who care about a purpose would pay, say, $9.95 per month, but not the $19.95 for the middle-level service. Anyway, they deserve to make money.

    I think the problem with the concept was that Ning created a very splintered set of network owners, which is the very nature of what they did by supporting a multiplicity of free networks (with owners having little or no marketing budgets for each one). There was not enough cohesion for Ning itself to grow as did Facebook, YouTube, and others.

    By the way, for the “record”, I detest Facebook and do not use it. I may continue with Ning, but developed my own sites so I have the luxury of focusing on them.

    David

  18. jake jacob on May 5th, 2010 8:20 pm

    For fun since I love scuba built a fun site for scuba divers but never could get the level of interaction I was after.

    I enjoyed the experience, and I really feel bad for the folks who invested thousand of hours developing things there. Not so much the commercial piece, as I’m sure that will work out for anyone who is actually making some real bucks there, but for the multitude of non-profits and causes and volunteer efforts that occupied that space.

  19. The Social Web Analyst on May 5th, 2010 10:51 pm

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  20. Larry Brauner on May 5th, 2010 11:21 pm

    Pretty strong reaction Stephen. How broad a stroke are you painting with your comment?

  21. Catherine White on May 6th, 2010 8:08 am

    Larry, I am deeply fascinated with the collective obsession with Facebook.

    I love social networks, but HATE FBook with a passion. I am very uneasy with Facebook’s careless handling of members’ privacy concerns.

    I hear all the arguments for Facebook as a business networking site, but I’m not persuaded.

  22. John A. Fallone on May 6th, 2010 9:39 am

    Larry, thanks for your kind acknowledgment of my comment.

    Your blog and various Ning sites offer a tremendous amount of value and I highly regard your opinion on social networking issues.

    What are your thoughts regarding utilizing the BuddyPress plug-in, in concert with a Wordpress MU site, as an alternative to the Ning subscription plans?

    I’m in the process of building my website and am considering incorporating the BuddyPress platform at some point.

    In the same vein, how feasible might it be for you, or anyone, to convert an existing Ning site to a BuddyPress scenario?

  23. Larry Brauner on May 6th, 2010 7:50 pm

    @Catherine I’m disturbed that Facebook’s aggressiveness has compromised users’ privacy. I also don’t have a good feeling about Facebook’s new virtual currency.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think that business owners have the luxury of boycotting the Facebook behemoth.

    Please refer to How Facebook Pages Will Help Facebook Dominate the Internet.

    @John I heard that a company was coming out with an app that would let you transition your Ning members to BuddyPress.

    The main problem with using BuddyPress has nothing to do with BuddyPress. When you send out mail to members, it will be sent by your domain host. Your domain host probably caps the number of emails you can send per day at some low number like 500 or 1,000.

    When the emails do go out, depending on the relationship your hosting company has with Internet service providers, those emails may or may not get through. I’ve had both problems when sending out mail from my Wordpress blog using Go Daddy.

  24. Joe on May 7th, 2010 6:12 pm

    I belong to several “Tea Party” Groups on Ning. I not sure what we are going to do. Some may stay at Ning and others will move. Too bad Ning didn’t just stop new free sites and let everyone there stay.

  25. Larry Brauner on May 7th, 2010 6:17 pm

    That would have been convenient, but from a revenue rather than a public relations point of view, Ning judged this the better way to go.

  26. vange on May 7th, 2010 11:28 pm

    Having never heard of it, my mourning period will be incredibly short. Wait…there. It’s over. Sorry to those of you who were affected.

  27. Mitch on May 8th, 2010 12:11 am

    I wrote on this topic a couple of weeks ago as well. Ning seemed to want to be what Ryze wasn’t ready to become and what LinkedIn was hoping to become, and just never got any real traction. Sure, lots of people set up lots of networks and the like, but trying to get anyone to have a real conversation was like pulling an elephant out of a tar pit. I tried, then I pretty much gave it up.

  28. Bob on August 20th, 2010 8:22 pm

    I had a very nice social network on Ning. Private none of the Facebook game crap. I would not mind paying for a service but $50/month is crazy. The $3/month has no features. This is truly the death of a great product. It is so much better than Facebook groups, Vimeo and other media friendly social network site. Today is the last day. Such a shame.

  29. Demetria on November 10th, 2010 7:02 pm

    Here we are months down the road, and I am still sadly shaking my head at the networks I have created and left behind, as well as the many wonderful resources I no longer have access to as a result of other networks shutting down.

    Many of us have transported to Facebook pages, but it’s just not the same.

  30. Larry Brauner on November 10th, 2010 11:29 pm

    I too feel bad about the Ning networks I closed, but I opened a new Ning network called Small Business Network.

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