What’s on deck: Status feature and more

Our team is currently working on the next big releases for your Ning Network, and we’re excited to share those below. These key new features and improvements will make it easier than ever to join the conversations happening right now around your activities and interests. Here’s what’s in the pipeline for the next three months:

1. A new Status feature on your Ning Network. In September, we’ll roll out a new Status feature for you and your members. A Status box will appear at the top of every My Page, and you’ll have 140 characters to let members know what you’re doing right now. This is your place to post a link to an upcoming concert, share an exciting announcement, or tell everyone about the mountain you just climbed.

Network Creators will be able to manage how status updates appear in Latest Activity, and whether the feature is enabled at all. Likewise, members will be able to control the privacy settings of their status updates. Here’s what it will look like (click for the full-sized image):

Status-sm

We’ll have all the details and more screenshots for the Status feature shortly.

2. Improvements to notifications and broadcast messaging. A bit further down the road, starting in September November, we’ll make sweeping improvements to the way notifications work on your Ning Network. For starters, we’ll give you and your members more ways to keep up with what’s happening. This means that the “Follow” option will be extended to events, forum categories, and videos. Additionally, when you comment on an item — like a friend’s photo of the Talkeetna Range in Alaska — you’ll automatically receive notifications when other people comment on it. This will drive activity back to the most talked-about member contributions, and will ensure that you’re not missing out on the conversations you care about.

After making these improvements, we’ll give our Broadcast Message feature a facelift and allow for HTML in the broadcasts sent to members of your Ning Network, guests of an event and members of a group. Finally, we’ll make it easy to customize the message that is sent to new members when they join, and give Network Creators and Administrators a way to automatically leave a comment on a new member’s Comment Wall. These updates are slated for late October to happen after the email notification improvements.

3. Your Ning Network on the go. We’ve had an iPhone interface for your Ning Network for some time, but it’s about to get a lot easier for your members to engage on the go. In September, we’ll set up an automatic redirect so that whenever members access your Ning Network from an iPhone, they’ll go straight to the mobile interface. Capturing a mobile photo, uploading it from your phone, and then starting a discussion about it will be easier than ever, and members will be able to share their adventures as they happen.

4. Fostering real friendships. We’ve heard from some of you that occasionally a member will join your Ning Network just to make a bunch of friends and invite them to their own Ning Network. Obviously this is not what friends are for, so we’ll be building in some sensible limits on invites and friend requests that will only affect people who aren’t using these features in the way they’re intended. We’ll have more details on these measures in the fall.

5. The gift of giving. Finally, we’re really excited to introduce a Gifts feature, which will give you and your members a way to purchase gifts for each other. Whether it’s a special occasion or just a random act of kindness, gifts will forge stronger relationships among members and add a new dimension of fun. We’ll also give you a way to upload and customize your own gifts, so they’ll be targeted to your Ning Network and will match your members’ interests and passions. This means if you run a Ning Network for Harry Potter fans, you’ll be able to add a Snowy Owl — or any other wizardly items — for your members to give to each other. We’ll share the revenue earned from gifts with Network Creators, and we’ll have lots more to say about the Gifts feature in the fall.

As for Ning Apps, we’ll have an update in a separate post this week. And as always, we’ll talk about other projects big and small here on the Ning Blog as we have more to share. We’re excited about what’s in store for the next few months, and we’d love to hear your feedback!

About the Author:

Nick Barr – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.


  • Phil Williams

    These sound fantastic! Some comments and questions:

    1) Will there be an option to link this in with Twitter or Facebook? I’m guessing not but just checking.

    2) Can we also please be able to change the full Subject when sending out Broadcast Messages? At the moment it reads: “On [Ning Network name]:”

    Also, will you provide some reporting so we can monitor open rates, and how many people click which links in the broadcast message?

    3) Sounds good, but please give iPhone users the chance to switch back to the full web view if they want to as well. (This is pretty much standard so i’m assuming you will do this anyway but just checking)

    4) Perfect

    5) Intriguing…

    Thanks!

    Phil
    http://www.worshiptherock.com

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Thanks for the feedback Phil!

    1) We’re absolutely looking to provide an import option direct from Twitter. Right now this is looking like a future improvement to the Status feature, and probably won’t be available at launch.

    2) Those are great improvements to the broadcast message, and I’ve flagged them for our team. If you drop us a note in the Ning Help Center, we’d be happy to follow up about the subject wording. Depending on which text you’re talking about, this may be something you can change in the Language Editor and we can help you figure that out.

    3) If you check out the footer of your iPhone interface today, you’ll see a link to “View Regular Version of This Page.” We’ll keep that functionality when we set up the automatic redirect.

    Thanks,
    Nick

  • Robert Quintanilla

    yes please! twitter sync for the status updates would be awesomw!!!

  • Becca

    I’m excited to hear about HTML in the broadcast messages. Yay, Ning!

  • Charles

    Status Updates: It would be great if creators could change the default message “What are you up to”, the default button name “Update” and/or change the character limit (less in my case). Would be very easy to implement in the manage menu.

  • Ilana Bittner

    Love all the new updates and I’ll my 2¢ about Twitter and Facebook integration.

    Also, it would be great if the iPhone interface allowed for reading of blog posts. Currently its just the forum that’s visible and I’d sure love to be able to see blog posts as well.

  • Robert

    All I can say is THANK YOU … and I am really looking forward to it
    Robert

  • Ning Directory

    Just had a member on the NingDir, ALL EXCITED about the upcoming feature list! I see why. This sounds great. I especially like the “What are you up to?” That feature will be a raging success. I have integrated Shoutem/Twitter interface on one of my sites, and members love it. I find they like this interface (Twitter-like), more than chatting. It’s been interesting. So, this will be very popular, IMHO.

    Thank you for all your continued hard work, and attention to Network Creator requests.

    Best Regards,
    Jen
    Ning Directory
    http://theningdirectory.ning.com

  • FLSN Organization

    Wow, I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting for this! Thank you!!!

  • Rob Abramson

    Regarding the Status feature, admins or members themselves will be able to show their updates on the main page if they so choose to?

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Hi Rob,

    Absolutely. The way status updates appear in Latest Activity will work a lot like the way other features do today. Network Creators will be able to choose whether status updates appear in the Main Page activity feed at all. Additionally, every member will be able to choose whether their own status updates appear in the Main Page activity feed. Just drop us a note in the Ning Help Center if you have any other questions about this.

    Thanks!
    Nick

  • Rob Abramson

    Alright! I can’t wait to see this. This is great news. I think it will be really beneficial.

  • Maria

    Hi – the updates sound great!

    I really need the ability for admin members of my site to be able to send Broadcast Messages to all members of the site – can you please look at this as an option when you are upgrading the Broadcast Message feature

    thanks!
    Maria

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Hi Maria!

    Your Administrators ought to be able to send Broadcast Messages as well. If they’re not seeing the “Broadcast Message” link on the Manage page, can you let us know in the Ning Help Center? We’ll be happy to take a look.

    Thanks,
    Nick

  • Darryl Barnes

    This is great news and it keeps us competitive!

  • Tobias Zwingmann

    very very very great news!! looking very much forward to it :)

  • One Grass Root

    Wonderful!!!! Especially #4.

    Looking forward to the info about new apps.

    Yay!!!

    Thanks. :)

  • Sairexes

    Yay! the broadcast message using HTML is what I was really looking for! Tnx for it…

    and now we also have the status update! that would really be great!

    Im really looking forward to all of those updates! ^_^ tnx Ning!

  • Peter Matthews

    Re Notifications and broadcasts: As network creator I would like to be able to easily broadcast notices, event information, etc to select lists of members (e.g. those who reside in a particular area), not to all members in the network. This will help make broadcasts more relevant for those who receive them (on an international network, not all members wish to know about a local event in New Zealand, for example). At present, to do this, we have to copy and paste individual member addresses from the manage members list.

    Re The gift of giving: it could be great to be able to optimise this for particular gift categories, such as music, or books. For example, as network creator I would like to make up a list of recommended books, on a particular subject (academic writing), that can be presented as a set of recommended gifts to all members using the feature.

    Thanks, Peter

  • Eric Eby

    Hi!

    The updates are sounding awesome, just a few quick questions..
    1- will I be able to use the chat from my iPhone?
    2- Will there be an option for me to turn off the automatic redirect feature on iPhones? I currently
    do almost all of my ning stuff on my iPhone, so
    it would probably make it harder for me if there was always an auto redirect.
    3-other than that I love it!!! :)

    Thanks ning!

  • Steve Dueck

    I’d like to ditto what Peter Matthews is asking for…there are a lot of nc that I know that also feel the pain of not having this ability.

    “Re Notifications and broadcasts: As network creator I would like to be able to easily broadcast notices, event information, etc to select lists of members (e.g. those who reside in a particular area), not to all members in the network. This will help make broadcasts more relevant for those who receive them (on an international network, not all members wish to know about a local event in New Zealand, for example). At present, to do this, we have to copy and paste individual member addresses from the manage members list.”

    Thanks for whatever you can do.

  • Gudde

    Looks great! I’m just starting this week with Ning and i love it.

    Can i give a suggestion to take a look at?

    When you make your own tab, then the only function y’ll get is a text box. Wouldn’t it be great to apply a forum or blog also?

    Now it looks al little bit simple.

    take a look at: http://digibord.ning.com/page/lesmateriaal-1/

    or http://digibord.ning.com/page/faq-digibordnet

    I’m just a starter, but it would be great!!

    thx

  • Craig Zelizer

    Hi Ning
    One new feature I would love to see on ning and get many, many requests from members is to create some type of digest e-mail distribution feature. I currently use the broadcast message to send out key messages to members (2-3 messages a day so that they don’t miss opportunities), but being able to do this within a digest format where site managers could messages and they could go out in a digest format once a day would be very helpful.

  • Mike Rankin

    Do us a favor and DON’T TURN ON THE STATUS BY DEFAULT. You need to give us a chance to figure out how to disable it before you roll it out to our communities. I run a private community and THE LAST THING I WANT IS A CONNECTION TO TWITTER!

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Mike!

    Thanks for your feedback. This feature will be on by default post release, but there are two things to keep in mind:

    1) This won’t be a feature that’s connected to Twitter – posts your members make will be only visible to members of your Ning Network, and won’t be posted or visible elsewhere.

    2) You’ll easily be able to turn the Status feature off completely by signing in, clicking on your Manage tab and selecting the Feature Controls icon. From there you can de-select the option for “Allow members to post status updates.”

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • Tony Bowman

    What about Blackberry? Id love to have a BB-compatible mobile site!
    All the rest looks great!