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I am always rooting for Ning.

From the very beginning Ning made things easy. People migrated to the platform for its ease of use and the sheer power it gave them to connect around an area of interest, issue or cause. Remember when Ning announced that it was phasing out “free” back in April?

I’ll admit that I was really worried that communities would die because of it, but chief executive Jason Rosenthal told Venturebeat, that Ning went from 15,000 to 70,000 paying customers since it got rid of its free product.He also said that Ning is gaining about 8,000 new subscribers each month.


The purpose of this post is to share another bit of interesting news about Ning, which is this: Today the company released new tools that will allow people to easily (there’s that ease of use thing again…) incorporate a social experience into existing websites with the same drop and drag features of which users of its standalone communities have become so accustomed.
The goal was to make it easy enough for technophobes, as illustrated in this comment from Rosenthal, posted here

“It used to be you’d have to hire a whole army of developers, but on Ning it is a drag-and-drop creation process so even someone with no technology skills can get all the features we expect to in a social experience online.”

Ning is also extending its platform to smartphones and an array of cloud services, including being able to integrate websites with Facebook or Twitter.

I appreciate the power that Ning brings to the little guy. Not everyone wants to put all of their eggs in the Facebook basket and this is one of the main reasons I will continue to root for Ning.

*Note: Check out my 2009 interview with Ning’s Jason Rosenthal.



If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands or even millions of people running an online community on Ning, it’s time to pull out your credit card or look for new digs.

The company announced earlier this week that the free model is going away. TechCrunch published the memo issued by Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal and I encourage you to read it. You may recall that I interviewed Mr. Rosenthal back in November when he was Chief Operating Officer of Ning and he had nothing but great things to say about the company’s growth.

At any rate, here is an excerpt from the memo announcing the changes:

…We will phase out our free service. Existing free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for premium services, or transition off of Ning. We will judge ourselves by our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale. And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making paying Network Creators extremely happy.

So there you have it. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision but I can assure  you that many, many online communities are soon to bite the dust. The free model and low barrier to entry is what brought so many people to Ning.

The technologically challenged network owners probably have no idea where to look to even begin a transition. Their transition will likely be extinction, and as a community advocate I find that extremely sad.

Do you run a network on Ning? If so, what’s your plan? I’m sure that others will be happy to listen and learn.


I recently interviewed Ning’s Chief Operating Officer Jason Rosenthal  for an article that will appear in the January issue of EContent Magazine. (Update: The article can be found here.) Only portions of the interview will be used in the article, so I’ve decided to share the complete interview with you.

1.      How many Ning sites are there currently?

More than 1.6 million Ning Networks have been created on the Ning Platform and we currently have more than 36 million registered users.

2.      How would you characterize your growth since launch?

The Ning Platform has increased in size by more than 300 percent in the number of Ning Networks created, registered users and active Ning Networks in the past year.  We see approximately 5,000 new Ning Networks being created every day and we are adding about one million registered users every 12 days.

3.      Does Ning have any plans to offer more analytics as companies look more towards specific measurements to gauge the effectiveness of their communities?

We are committed to arming our Network Creators with the tools to make their Ning Network as successful as possible. We currently offer Ning Network Creators a variety of management features to optimize the effectiveness of their Ning Network. This includes the ability to edit the layout of their Ning Network, bring in features unique to their needs, and manage the invitation flow. We also give our Network Creators the ability to easily integrate Google Analytics into their Ning Network.

In addition, for those running Virtual Gifts on their Ning Network, we offer a rich set of analytics tools to measure and quantify gift transactions and frequency.

4.      What are some of the most successful communities using the NING platform?

Success on Ning comes in all forms depending on the goals of the Network Creator and the interests of their members. Some examples include:

The Twilight Saga – A Ning Network for fans of the Twilight book series with over 200,000 members

Brooklyn Art Project – A Ning Network for fans of Brooklyn artists  with over 6,500 members

GovLoop – a Ning Network for over 20,000 government employees and contractors at the federal, state, and local level

IPL Nation – a Ning Network for over 700,000 fans of the Indian Premier Cricket League

The Pickens Plan – a 200,000+ person strong Ning Network for grassroots organizing of T. Boone Pickens’ “wind energy army.”

5.      What are your short and long-term plans for the future of NING?

Ning’s vision is to enable everyone to live the most interesting and vibrant life possible by giving people a platform where they can join and create Ning Networks around interests and passions. We also want Ning to be a service that provides people with a way to become more and more unique through membership in a wide array of Ning Networks and express that uniqueness to the world. With this in mind, we want the Ning Platform to grow with people as their interests, passions and friendships evolve in ways that we can’t even imagine today.
We focus every day on adding more value for our Ning Network Creators and their members. We recently launched two new products, Ning Apps and Ning Virtual Gifts, which we will continue to expand upon. We will also have more to announce in the coming months – stay tuned!

6.      Do you find that many communities become dormant shortly after launch? If so, why?

We see a lot of experimenting on Ning, as well as Ning Networks created for timely topics, which leads to some Ning Networks becoming inactive, or having activity spikes at certain times of the year. This experimentation is natural in the area of social creation and technologies. However, many of our Ning Networks only increase in growth due to the way that we’ve built the invitation flow and other features inherent in the Ning Platform.

7.      What are your thoughts on what it takes to run a successful Ning community and how are you working to spread that knowledge to your users?

The Ning Help Center and the Ning Blog are great resources for Network Creators looking for ideas on how to maximize all the options and features Ning has to offer.

(Author’s note: I’ve also interviewed a slew of community managers currently using Ning and will publish their thoughts on it’s beneifits and shortcomings in the next few weeks.)


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