Posted by Jill Ruthenberg
Described as the leading platform for the world’s organisers, activists and influencers, Ning is where you create your own custom branded social network.
Ning is major in the music, sports and entertainment worlds, but it is also useful for publishing (The Twilight Saga, for example), Non-Profits and of course, brands. It allows you to ‘create a social space for passionate or new fans to talk, share and build excitement even when you aren’t there’.
Why should I care?
With more than 45 million registered users, this one can’t be ignored. This is a platform where you create your own digital hub that facilitates community around your brand; connect with your fans and in turn, make them into promoters at whatever stage your business is at (you can make it private or public depending on the level of exclusivity you want to offer).
It has Twitter, YouTube and Facebook integration. You can also sell merchandise and earn revenue. Take videos viral or even allow members to upload and share their own videos. Give fans exclusive access.
Our take? Ning offers a lot of features that no other platform offers. Monitoring and measurement is made easy because you can customise analytics, but the most beneficial feature is that Ning provides a tool for you to fine-tune your target and reach. Collect user emails and demographic information through the profiles users create about themselves and learn from them to build long-term relationships.
What’s more, the latest addition to the site, the newly launched Leaderboard, ranks top members and content, meaning you can recognize your best customers and promote the best of your network.
Anything else I should know?
It’s not free. There are 3 membership option depending on your fan base and your desired level of customisation, starting at $2.95 per month – which is nothing really. What we suggest is that you take advantage of their 30-day trial to test interest and then decide if it’s right for your business, industry and community.
A downside to it is that you have to work within the constraints of the format and widgets provided, which actually doesn’t always mean simplicity. Think: tacky Myspace pages with gory colours and way too much going on. Word of advice, don’t go overboard.
More alternatives include SocialGo and Igloo. And then of course there’s good old Facebook, which does allow something similar. It’ll also be interesting to see how Diaspora can add to this space. That’s where our eyes will be focussed…
Ever Wondered About is a new series on the Wisdom London blog, where Kate Spiers and Jill Ruthenberg aim to demystify and explore what’s shaping our social interactions. Coming up: Paper.li, PPC and Android. Wondering about anything else? Tell us and we’ll investigate!
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