More Virtual Gifts improvements coming your way

Update: This release is live as of Tuesday, November 24.

In the coming days, we’ll be strengthening the Ning Virtual Gifts feature with a series of improvements that give you as a Network Creator even more control over how you customize the Gift Store around the context of your Ning Network. This update follows on the heels of our previous update to Ning Virtual Gifts, which you can read about here.

Network Creators can now choose from a collection of Award Gifts that only they can give to members. When you check out the Gift Store, you’ll see a new category for Award Gifts that’s only visible to you as a Network Creator. This is a great way to use virtual gifts to reward your stand-out members. When you upload a custom gift, you can also designate it as an Award Gift. To set a custom gift that can only be given out by you, select “Network Creator Only” on the “Upload a Custom Gift” page.

Keep in mind that these exclusive gifts won’t go towards your revenue share, since only you as the Network Creator can purchase them.

You can now choose whether the Gift Store updates automatically with new and seasonal gifts. We’ve seen an awesome variety to how you and your members are using Ning Virtual Gifts. To reflect that, we now give you the option to either automatically have new gifts added to your Gift Store, or add new virtual gifts yourself via the “Add Ning Gifts” option. Here’s what you’ll see when you click the new link for “Automatic Ning Gift Management”:

vg_update-sm

Get more credits when you buy in bulk. All-star members who are buying a large number of credits for virtual gifts will now see a bulk discount to their purchases. You’ll see how many extra credits you’re receiving when you purchase more Ning credits.

About the Author:

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


  • Jeff Pritchard

    Nick, do we have to actually purchase the award gifts to give to our members? This statement seems to suggest this.

    ‘Keep in mind that these exclusive gifts won’t go towards your revenue share, since only you as the Network Creator can purchase them.

    Also, will it be possible to set the price for some gifts to zero?

  • Leah Neaderthal

    I’m so confused – who actually uses these gifts and why are so many Ning resources devoted to working on and improving them?

  • Charles

    do you really think creators will purchase gifts they “created” themselves… start considering giving free gifts.

  • Di

    And how much is an award going to cost?

  • Alex (MUL)

    This is useless…

  • Miss Online

    Excellent!

  • Nick Barr

    Hi all,

    There will be a brand-new set of Award gifts available to you as a Network Creator for 25 credits. You can also update your own custom gift and designate it as an Award — this will also go for 25 credits.

    Charles, to your point: we are asking the same questions, and we’ll look closely at the data about how popular these Award gifts are. But to clarify, while Network Creators have the option to create custom awards, there will be a set of built-in ones as well.

    Thanks!
    Nick

  • Miss Online

    oh wait..we have to PAY for NC only gifts on our own websites? please tell me your joking?? please

  • lilcswag

    this is cool i like it

  • Ed L.

    I agree with Alex (MUL) — this is useless. It is also very confusing and a waste of development resources. This is about as valuable as the new graphic ads for dating and gamefly that repetitively appear on my site. Our members are mostly married 50-somethings!

  • Hamo Geek Girl

    This gift thing, as a concept, feels so ethically wrong. I don’t think I’ll be encouraging it by purchasing awards.

    I HAVE been running gifts on my network, though, to see what kind of a response it gets. The Breast Cancer Foundation would be proud of us for the amount of awareness we’ve generated so far (1140 pink ribbons given and counting).

    I know that Ning doesn’t profit from free gifts so it’s not likely you’ll offer any more, but could you at least allow us to change our ONE free gift to something more significant to our sites than pink ribbons?

  • Joseph Lai

    There is actually a “Thumbs Up” Award gift that Network Creators can give out for free! You can definitely use it to award minor, but notable contribution.

  • webwahm

    1. I like the NC Award idea very much BUT having to pay for my own custom gifts to give as Awards isn’t very appealing. I have more than 5000 members, it would cost me a small fortune, say at Christmas to send out a custom ‘Merry Xmas’ to everyone. I’d like to send out custom birthday gifts as well…but will cost too much this way.

    2. I might be MORE open, if gifts could be right-clickable and allow the user to save it as a mini-image. The nature of my site means this would be very useful and gimmicky. A ‘usable’ gift.

    3. Think the whole gift-giving thing would take off more if there were more free ones for people to get used to handing out. Then maybe they’d be prepared to fork out for extra special ones?

    4. More charity ones would be good too.

  • DiSaSteR MaSteR

    I can’t really see much profit in this now.
    I was under the impression that as NCs, we would take some control of how this was used.
    Alas. It seems that we have to make the stuff, upload it, most likely will be used by all sites, eventually. Then have to pay to use our own work.
    Other networks use this same thing. None of the gifts cost anything.
    I can’t see doing the NCs this way. Like a slap in the face. And an insult to our intelligence.
    This would be like. Cooking your own food, setting the table, then having someone charge you to eat.
    The revenue from gifts will come from Members. The people that NCs have worked hard to obtain. It will come as a result of a lot of very hard and demanding work, for most. Dedication to Ning. And a resolve to make Ning a great place.
    For all of that work and dedication. Reporting issues. Inputting ideas. Helping to resolve issues. And so much more.
    We now, have to pay for a small 64 X 64 image, that we produce?

    This isn’t going to go over very well.
    I don’t know how many have even been notified as to whether or not they are getting any revenue from Gifts. I haven’t yet.

    Guess you can tell. I am not happy about this.
    I hope you change this so it doesn’t burden the site creators. Or make someone, pay for their own work.
    Just rubs me the wrong way.
    Maybe this will make it to post, maybe not. Seems to be an issue there as well.

  • Madam President

    I’ve had a major problem with forum comments on my site for two weeks now and it still is not resolved. I think that NING is spending way too much time with “gifts” and not enough time with real problems. And I won’t be uploading Award Gifts and then paying for them. That absolutely makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Madam President,

    I looked up your info in the Help Center and it looks like Mariko has been working closely with you about your forum issue. Her last reply let you know that our engineering team is working on getting your issue resolved.

    That said, if you don’t want to use virtual gifts on your Ning Network — or don’t want to upload any yourself — don’t do it! It’s simple to disable this feature entirely on the Manage Gifts page.

    -Laura

  • Anestis

    I’m in agreement with Jeff Pritchard. There are some gifts that I would like to set to zero and have all new members send and receive ..
    -a

  • Anestis

    To clarify my last comment, I think I should have the option to set to zero any gift that I HAVE CREATED (at least) .. in other words, if it’s my intellectual property, time and effort that goes into the design of a custom gift that I’d like members to share, then I should have the option to set that to free .. it certainly makes NO SENSE that I have to PAY for these when I created them …
    Thanx .. -a

  • Catman

    I truly like the gift concept, and see where it could help create activity in a community. Our community has been very slow, and could use some stimulus (seems like all of our members hang at Facebook, and give free gift graphics there). It is hard to compete for member’s attention with these mega communities offering so much free stuff.

    We continue to watch and wait, thinking some considerations on pricing will be made if this doesn’t go gangbusters at $1.50 per gift graphic. Trying to see this from your point of view at a marketing level, I would rather sell a ton at 25 cents each, than little or none at $1.50. I think you would see more end-use profits with a modest price, than trying to make a lot off of a few. Yes, I realize we can turn them off, but I would rather see the program work.

    So, instead of being either free (as many suggest) or a $1.50, why not set a small affordable price and watch them get bought in large quantities. It’s not like there is a set tangible overhead built in that has to be met.

    Again, brilliant workable concept, but being hamstrung on individual pricing.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Catman,

    For gifts you upload yourself — custom gifts — you can choose the price. See this blog post for a little more info.

    Thanks!
    -Laura

  • Pete Nelson

    Gifting is a great feature to get members involved in interacting with each other. Not only does it help to build a successful network, but also a large network that creators may eventually profit from and opt for premium services. However, gifting is nearly useless to most members if they have to pay for it as well as creators. Gifting should be free for it’s members, or at least for the creators who upload custom gifts to award the members for promoting the network. 25 credits is not free.

  • Mike O’Brien

    Did anyone ever get straight, complete answer as to if NC’s are going to have to pay for these awards?

    I think, conceptually, it is a great idea to high-five great members. But if the NC has to choke up the money, that could get VERY expensive. I can do it for free right now by just high-fiveing them on their page using a comment.

    Right now, we have decided to not let this feature on the network as there is still no major benefit to the network versus storage and bandwidth considerations and we would hate to see our resources and the network get clogged up with goofy gifts like Facebook does.

    I wholeheartedly agree that Ning seems to be expending a lot of development time and resources here.

  • Guurso

    Nice ;)

  • Arthur Manns

    Thanks For This! Arthur Manns

  • Alicia

    cool!

  • Sojourner Fathom

    Lousy free gifts?! hardly any?! I’ve got to pay for award gifts?!!! I’ve just deactivated it !!! It’s STUPID!!

  • Kaina Dali Baerga Mercado

    i really love thst gift thing i mean is a good plan
    yeah but i need help to how to put chat in my new web

  • gmxian89

    nick try to make all our gift free or…make us or all admin of social network and the creators to send unlimited gifts to every member..

  • Тамара Козлова

    Я не совсем поняла это платный ресурс? Если платный то почему об этом небыло сказано изначально, я предполагала что интересы обоюдные так как на страницах нашего блога размещается реклама, которую, наверняка, оплачивается рекламодателями.
    С уважением Тамара Козлова.

  • Mimik

    I love the gift store, it’s a GREAT idea, but why can’t you make it so that the ADMIN get to give out the credits? I realize that Ning is just trying to make money, but come on. Stick to getting cash through premium memberships, domain names, etc. It’s ridiculous to make the members pay to use this feature! I REALLY wanted the gifts feature to be a success, but since my network is for young adults without jobs and coming from different family incomes, I feel like I’m doing something wrong by keeping this feature running on my site.

    Please try to offer more settings to fix things like this at the gift store.

  • Khine Zaw Win Maung

    I couldnt create image below 10KB. Is it possible?

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Khine,

    It can be a little confusing, but it’s definitely possible. See this tutorial from the Ning Help Center for some step by step instructions.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • J.L. Lewis

    I think gifts could be an incredible feature, if the Admins were able to give out the credits. This would allow them to reward members for activity on the site, or for referring new members to the network. Giving us some control over the price is a step in the right direction, but give us control over the credits, and we can take this feature to the next level.

    For now I have disabled it from my sites.

  • APRIL

    Why don’t you let people “earn” credits so they can purchase these gifts? Like after commenting you get 5 or 10 credits towards buying or every time someone signs in they earn 10 credits.. and so forth… little things that add up so they can earn credits. most of my members are laid off without jobs and are having hard times, why make them pay for a stupid little picture that they could get a graphic for free to send their friends. I agree with the one who said if the network creator takes the time to create gifts then why charge for something i’ve made and wouldn’t charge my people for? Charging for gifts should be on the paid sites and not the free sites. I’m going to disable this feature from my site because it’s worthless when people can’t afford it.

  • Fire Fly in the Dark

    Is there going to be an option for a few ‘freebies’ with this one too? I once tried to get a pay pal but could not (long story). As well, I do not use credit cards. So that would be cool if I could use it even for a few times initially for my best members. Once I can, I would very much like to purchase this and receive the ‘paid version’ of the site.

    Thank you for everything that the wonders of Ning provide! 8>

    Fire Fly in the Love!

  • Jeff

    April…great suggestion. Why can’t members earn points for particaption (i.e. creating blogs, creating a discussion, uploading videos/pictures). If you make money from Google for traffic, I would think activity would be more profitable than thinking people will actually pay to have images on their profile or buy one for someone else…I don’t get it.
    Jeff Sharp

  • misswings

    The Gifts are awesome and love it! I would like to see the capability of offering more “free” gifts and also be able to add “free” custom gifts. Thx.

  • MARIE

    I’d like to see a way for members to earn point for gifts rather than have to purchase once they’ve use up their gift point.

  • http://thehumantouch.ning.com Janettee McCrary

    I agree with Mimik, April, JL Lewis, Firefly In The Dark and Jeff Sharp.

    I think the way it should work is this: Admin can create custom award gifts and gifts. They can price the gifts anywhere between free and whatever the current price cap is, at $0.10 intervals. Ning gets half of any revenue, as stated, so they get a minimum of $0.05 a sale (which they are likely to get more of! As a member I’m more likely to buy $5 worth of credits when I know that gives me 100 gifts to give, although as an admin I’m not about to purchase gifts to give to my members-that would be too much money!)

    Also I think that there should be a way to earn points for participation, say 1 point per member activity? Perhaps 5 points for inviting people. Each point equals a credit, which would equal a penny. So therefore they have to earn 10 points to earn a $0.10 gift. These would be automatically given to members, so Admins don’t have to worry about doing it.

    It would also be cool if admins could “gift” members with a set of points, in intervals of 10, perhaps up to 50, to members who do something extra special.

    The way you currently have it set up, admins are more likely to disable the feature, and both admins and members are more likely to simply post small photos they can give for free to members, or sell digital downloads or something if they want the money.

  • http://dpfamily daisy

    I know they said that the site would earn 50% of what is sold. Does anyone know when they will be doing that?

  • http://www.netnikelt.ning.com cherry

    Hola!!!!

    Ning creators and administrators ATTENTION!!!!

    There are too many site in the web that offers free virtual gifts to be send to any members in a certain networks. Why would make this virtual gifts in ning as business? when its just a .png file? How discouraging and it bothers me so much.

    I have created a ning network with virtual gifts but a few members.
    One of the reason is the virtual gifts. THEY WANT IT TO BE FREE.
    My ning network is a communication network like of that FRIENDSTER AND FACEBOOK.

    yes theres a free virtual gift but the very simple one
    it really turn down my network to have useless virtual gifts.

    My ning network is for youngster who knows nothing about how to have credits on the web.

    I create this ning network of mine for them as free and for their direct communication to there any love ones inside and outside of our country.

    So then please try to make some other free virtual gifts not for me but for them who cant afford to have credits and who are knows nothing about credits.

    Thanks as if you read this post.

    Cherry “Echay” Fernandez

    ^^

    Philippines

  • http://retropirate.ning.com steve

    While its great to have on the site, charging for them is a non starter, and its such a shame because members like gifts, just like on facebook, but members are used to free gifts, and so wont pay for them,and why should they, they are only gif images.. ” money for old rope” as we say in Yorkshire…

    There should be an option for the gifts you create yourself to be free if you wish, in fact ive only been a member of ning a few days saw the gifts, created one of my own thinking i could give it free to members, and was shocked to find i have to pay for it to send it.
    Utter ridiculous is that. Ning must think we are stupid or something….

    Kind regards

    steve