A Profile of Ning
Ning is a social media platform that allows users to create their own custom social media sites. You can create your own social media, complete with unique features and your own unique user base. It’s used most often by organizations, non-profits and people who share very specific interests.
You can embed content, such as YouTube videos or SoundCloud music directly into your social networks. Integration with popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter is simple and easy. Monetizing the network is easy, through Google AdSense integration or by selling integrated services through Ning.
Traffic & Statistics
There are over 90,000 social networks on Ning as of June 2011. According to Forbes, Ning has over 65 million unique visitors per month.
Alexa estimates the sites global Internet user reach at less than 1%, but one key to Ning success is marketing your network outside of the Ning site itself, so Ning’s traffic numbers may not matter as much.
According to Quantcast, Ning has a very strong African American user base, followed by a strong Hispanic user base. The Caucasian user base is less than half the size of the African American user base. One likely cause of this demographic skew is that many hip hop and rap music artists use Ning to build their communities.
Ning is slightly skewed to a younger demographic.
Should You be on Ning?
Ning is a fantastic platform for non-profits, organizations, causes and smaller communities to gather. It’s relatively inexpensive and has all kinds of great features that make running a social network simple and easy. Instead of focusing on building the network infrastructure, you get to focus on nurturing and growing the social network itself.
Larger organizations should opt to build their own network instead of using Ning. Ning technically owns all networks built on Ning, which makes it a non-salable asset. Your social network can be an extremely valuable asset if it comes down to sale, so that’s a big downside for larger organizations. The technical limitations also make it less than ideal for larger organizations.
Ning Pros and Cons
- Pro: You save money. If you had to build your own community from scratch, you’re easily looking at a five to six figure investment.
- Con: You give up some control. There are things you simply can’t do in Ning, because you’re using someone else’s code.
- Pro: It’s easy to offload the administration. Users who’re comfortable with Facebook and Twitter can quickly learn how to use Ning, making it easy to hand off much of the workload.
- Con: There’s not much of a built in mechanism for getting traffic to your group. It’s a platform for connecting people who care about your brand, not a platform for building your brand.
- Pro: Built in mobile and HTML5 support. Ning sites are well equipped for new technologies.
- Con: The .ning web address looks unprofessional. One way around this is to use a cloaked domain redirect; though that comes with limitations as well. There’s no way to setup Ning on your own domain directly.
Tips for Success on Ning
Start your Ning community off on a strong start by giving it a unique makeover. Ning’s standard designs are good, but adding your own personality can really give it a strong kick off the ground. Focus especially on your forum area’s designs, which is where a lot of your community will spend its time.
Recruit winners in your industry to participate in your Ning community. For example, say you have an online community dedicated to Android app programming. Try to get three or four superstar programmers to participate regularly. This will draw a lot more people into participating in your forums.
Market your Ning community outside of Ning. Use Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to funnel people into Ning. Ning is a much more powerful way of having people interact with one another.