Larry BraunerNing sites aren’t disappearing. Granted, many Ning sites will close when the new Ning plans and pricing go into effect on July 20. However, many other Ning sites will remain open. Roughly 15,000 Ning network creators have already demonstrated their interest by joining the new Ning Creators social network.

If your favorite Ning sites survive, continue to use them without hesitation. Chances are these Ning sites will offer greater functionality than they did in the past.

Ning Social NetworkIf, on the other hand, you’re a network creator seeking Ning alternatives, many alternative to Ning sites¬† exist. I intend to examine a variety of Ning alternatives over the weeks and months to come.

Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites

FacebookLast week I launched Fabulous Baby Boomers, a new Facebook group. I considered starting it on Ning or another social network hosting platform, but I chose to start my group on Facebook for four principal reasons:

  1. I wanted to test how well Facebook groups, a free alternative to Ning sites, might help me achieve my networking objectives.
  2. I believed that it would be easier to promote group membership and for that membership to spread virally on Facebook than elsewhere, since Facebook is the most active social web site.
  3. A Facebook group keeps my options open, since it doesn’t preclude the possibility of building a network on another social platform in the future. Rather, a Facebook group could help drive people to a new site.
  4. Growing Facebook groups could support other projects I have going or will initiate in the future on the Facebook social networking site.

Of course there are trade-offs, such as:

  • no subgroups within a Facebook group
  • no blogs as on Ning sites
  • very limited opportunities for Facebook group customization
  • you haven’t used Facebook much in the past, so you’ll have a learning curve and will need to develop influence on that site

Here are some important features of Facebook groups. You can:

  • broadcast newsletters directly to your members’ inboxes provided you don’t have 5,000 members or more, so limit your membership size if this feature is important to you
  • use “Invite People to Join” with discretion and encourage your members to do the same in order to bring new members into the group
  • create group events to liven things up, promote an event, build your brand or increase membership
  • use the discussion tab as you would use a forum

You can’t choose a vanity name for a Facebook group like you can for a Facebook profile or a Facebook page. I suggest that you buy a domain name and forward it to your Facebook group. I purchased the domain FabulousBabyBoomers.com for my Facebook group. If you know any Baby Boomers, please tell them about this group.

Optimize Your Web PresenceI’m also launching a new blog site in a few days, Optimize Your Web Presence. The site is already up, and I hope you’ll stop by and check in.

If you have or will have a Facebook group, tell us about it in a comment below. You can also share whatever else you have on your mind. ;-)

Whether you prefer Facebook groups or Ning sites, I wish you complete success!

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