Monthly Archives: July 2007

AdGabber

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AdGabber is a social network created by Adrants, a marketing and advertising news site and daily email newsletter with a bit of attitude. We like this social network because it takes an established set of “one-way” readers and evolves them into a vibrant social network of “two-way” contributors.

Things we love about AdGabber:

  • AdRants has done a great job of keeping the discussions in the forum fresh. When his members aren’t in the discussion forum, he’s in there kicking off conversations.

  • There are active Groups around topics such as Ads of the World and Non-Traditional & Alternative Marketing Tools.

  • There’s close integration between Adrants and AdGabber, so that members can seamlessly go back and forth between the original site and the social network. This is done with simple HTML links and RSS feeds from Adrants.

  • An AdGabber-branded spot advertising showcase via the Video feature on your own social network. Because this is a network for advertising insiders, videos are limited to spot TV and online video ads. It’s perfect and totally consistent with the focus of the network.

  • They’ve taken advantage of the Facebook Integration so that members can add the latest TV spots to their Facebook profile with a few clicks.

  • On the Main page, they’ve added Advertising Jobs listing from Adrants that enable members to use AdGabber to find a new advertising or marketing job.

  • They’ve also done a great job extending their feature set with external widgets. For example, Adgrabber Chat is powered by a Mebbo widget and the calendar is powered by Google Calendar. It’s a nice integration of both.

This is definitely the place to be if you are an advertising industry insider, but it’s also a great resource for other Network Creators. Go and be inspired!

5,500 New Social Networks in 10 Days!

Last night, we passed 80,000 social networks on Ning. That’s 50,000 social networks created since February 27th! Along with having a little party about this fact, I also thought it might be a good opportunity to break that number down a little further and talk about what it means.

There are really three buckets of social networks on Ning and they follow the Power Law Curve (or The Long Tail, it’s more easily digestible cousin):

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Top Networks

The first bucket of social networks on Ning are the most popular ones. Our top 200 networks represent around 37% of our total page views across the Ning Platform.

Interestingly, they have very little in common with each other in terms of topic, design, or member base. What makes a social network successful? Authenticity, interestingness, and/or a passionate base of members are the only common characteristics of the most successful networks.

What we certainly don’t see is that the most popular networks are the most generic networks. It’s the opposite. Having a purpose is critical. Mass appeal via the same feature set as MySpace or Facebook is a losing proposition for new network creators on or off the Ning Platform.

Active Networks in the Middle and Tail

Active social networks in the middle and the tail represent the remaining 63% of our page views. These networks are just getting started, have a smaller addressable member base, or are created around more niche topics. Like a family. Or a school. Or a group of friends. This bucket is where we see the vast majority of our private networks, but a few of our top networks are private as well.

Again, these networks have very little in common with each other in terms of topic, design, or member base. What they do have in common is that they authentically address niche topics and people.

Networks with No Activity

The third bucket of networks on Ning are the dead ones. And we love them.

What??? You love dead networks on the service? Yes, we do.

Dead networks mean that it’s super easy to create your own social network for free on Ning and that people are dipping their toes to experiment in this particular pond. We love experimentation. We love people trying us out. Not doing anything with your network is perfectly fine.

That’s the freedom to create. To take the step to try the service and successfully end up with a social network after a few minutes for free is a critical part of what we are doing here.

So, experiment away! You might find the whole thing addictive or lose interest after a few days. We’ve seen much more of the former than the latter, but both are required for us to have the type of vibrant service that we’re striving to nurture and grow.

Introducing the Ning Help Center

We want to let you about some changes we’re making to our Help and Support efforts here at Ning.


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The Ning Help Center

First, we’ve added a comprehensive Ning Help Center from which we are going to be funneling all help requests going forward.

In addition to a rocking FAQ that we are always updating, we also have a better method to Contact Ning which will allow us to better respond and solve issues that you or your members encounter.

Discontinuing Support(at)Ning(dot)Com Emails

With this new Ning Help Center, we are discontinuing the support(at)ning(dot)com email address. We will redirect people to the Ning Help Center.

This will allow us to get better information from you upfront so that we can help you as quickly as possible and get you on your way.

Additionally, spam on this email address – and all of our email addresses – has gotten out of control and we want a way to minimize it so that we are addressing issues and not learning about ways to make money in Nigeria.

What This Means to You

When you have questions, check out the Ning Help Center first so we can get you on your way as quickly as possible.

This will enable us to focus on troubleshooting bugs and specific issues as well as make improvements to your network faster than we could if we’re answering individual emails on topics covered in the FAQ.

It also means that if you or one of your members sends us an email without going through the new Ning Help Center, we won’t get it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be responsive, but we are looking to make everything more efficient so we can continue to be as fast as possible in fixing issues and getting new things for your network out the door.

If we do this right, everyone will win. In the meantime, we might be a bit slower here and there as we implement this new community management effort.

We appreciate your help!

Feature of the Week: Customizing Your Network’s Appearance

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We want your networks on Ning to be truly yours.

We put our money where our mouth is with our Terms of Service, the fact that you can customize everything on your network down to the code running it, as well as the ability to easily import as well as export the content and members of your network. With easy exporting in fact, you can back up your network or move it off the Ning Platform, although we plan to continue to blow you away with great service, features, and the freedom to make your network exactly what you want so you’ll stay.

One of the ways we judge whether we are hitting our goal of enabling your network to be truly yours is by looking at the diversity of networks on Ning. It is by far the thing which we are most proud of, even when the networks are, uh, a bit more diverse than we initially expected.

In addition to defining what your network is about, making it public or private, choosing your network’s features and customizing the layout, another key way of making your network yours is customizing how it looks.

Tricking out a social network has never been so much fun.

As a Network Creator, you can control every last element of your social network’s appearance. You have tremendous flexibility which we present from easy-to-advanced. Let’s take you through some of your options…

Continue reading

Positively Speedy

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In the past few weeks you should have noticed how positively speedy your social networks on Ning have become. We spent a few months going back and optimizing every last nook and cranny of the service to ensure that we were the fastest social networking service out there.

I think our crew knocked it out of the park.

Network Badges & New Widgets Are Here!

New Release

You’ve got some new features on your social network on Ning that we think you’re going to like. Specifically, we’ve added network badges to your choice of the video, photo, and music widgets that you and your members can take from your network and embed anywhere across the Internet – all branded and linked back to your network.

Here’s our screencast that will take you through all the details of the new stuff you’ve now got on your network:

You can also view a larger version of the screencast or download it to your iPod.

As always, let us know what you like, what you don’t, and how we can continue to make your social network better and better at Ning Network Creators.

Enjoy!

Double Feature Saturday

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We’ve got two great releases coming out today! We’ll have the details in follow up blog posts a bit later, but to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible, we will do a brief 10 minutes maintenance period at 3:30 pm PST, and then complete the work in two hours between 11 pm and 1 am PST tonight.

We think you’ll love the results of both, so thanks in advance for your patience and we’ll be back up as quickly as possible.

Thanks!

A Note on Party Crashers

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As Ning continues to grow rapidly, adding new networks and people every few minutes, there are the inevitable party crashers. This is to be expected. Your network has safeguards today in place to protect your members from spam. It will have even more controls in place shortly.

First, spam on Ning is against our Terms of Service. You can report spam on your network from any page on your network via the Report An Issue link at the bottom of any page. This report goes to the Network Creator and a copy goes to Ning. We investigate all reports of spam and deactivate people at our discretion. Even if you are Network Creator. Even if you have purchased Premium Services. Neither give you permission to be a spammer.

A few of the additional safeguards on your network today:

  • The magic email address: privacy(at)ning(dot)com. Your members can always send a message to privacy(at)ning(dot)com and ask to be removed from all messages coming from any network across the platform. In fact, anyone can take advantage of this. If you don’t want to hear from any network on Ning, we will put you on a do not email list.
  • Member email settings within your network. Your members can turn off friend and message notifications on your network or any network to which they belong. They just need to go to the Settings link under their name on the right hand column of any page. This won’t yet turn off invitations to new networks or messages from people on other networks to which they belong, but it will reduce the amount of email volume they receive.
  • Ability to ban anyone from your network. From the Members link from the Manage tab – or any profile page on your network – you can ban people from your network. I would be very liberal with banning policies. Namely, you can always un-ban someone if you’d like, but protecting your network from party crashers is key. So, ban away and don’t feel bad about it.
  • Ability to moderate photos and videos before they are posted. So, this isn’t directly related to spam, but can be critical to ensuring your social network is exactly what you want it to be. To turn this on, go to your Manage page and choose the Network Information page to start moderation of photos and videos.

Combating spammers is within all of our control. Reporting them is the first step. We will take action. I’ll also do a follow up post here once we get the latest set of privacy controls out next week. So stay tuned!

A Little Company News…

We are passionate about offering you the absolute best platform for creating your own social network for anything.

One key aspect of creating a fantastic service is growing it – adding features as quickly as possible, improving the features already there, and expanding all the behind-the-scenes operations a service needs to deliver itself as more and more people discover it.

We normally like to keep company mechanics a behind-the-scenes affair. The only thing that matters is your experience with the service. It should just work and be awesome. Nothing else is important. Except for perhaps making sure we’re going to be delivering this service for the long haul.

Over the past four months, we’ve seen an amazing response to Your Own Social Network for Anything. As of today, there are 73,650 social networks on Ning. As anyone on Network Creators can attest, we also have a whole host of new features we can’t wait to get out the door.

The first step to continuing improving and growing Ning is to be here. We need to be around for us to deliver everything we want to deliver.

To this end, we closed our first outside investment in Ning. We raised $44M. The investment was led by Legg Mason Investments with a number of other great investors participating. We will use this investment to add new features as quickly as possible, improve features we have, and expand all the behind-the-scenes operations a service needs to deliver itself as more and more people discover it. Yes, the second paragraph was a set up :-)