Monthly Archives: June 2012

Things to make your 4th of July explosively fun!

Next week, Americans everywhere will be celebrating the 4th of July. It’s a holiday that’s code for fireworks, sparklers, outdoor activities, BBQ cooking and comfort food, camping, picnics, parades, stargazing, bluegrass and country music, warmer weather and spending time with friends and family. Not a bad deal, right?

Members of Ning communities nationwide are sharing about the things that make for a memorable and special 4th of July — and letting the world know what makes them as all-American as apple pie… or Bruce Springsteen.

The Chamber of Central Mass South Online is letting people know about its fireworks show on July 3. It’s one of the region’s largest fireworks displays! A few states south of Massachusetts, Amy Shair, a member of The 919 Business Network, shares over a dozen 4th of July activities happening in North Carolina’s Triangle area. Celebrations continue even after the 4th of July, and Morgen Connor shares about the July 7 fireworks show happening in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Though fireworks remain one of the mainstays of the 4th of July, other Ning communities are highlighting other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. On the Naples Velo Community, an inclusive cycling Ning site, there’s a 4th of July 50+ mile bike ride followed by a post ride picnic.

Despite being 2,000+ miles from the mainland, 4th of July celebrations are in full swing in Hawaii. On The Society of the Friends of St. Patrick Hawaii, this Irish-American Ning community will be marching in the Kailua 4th of July parade.

As many of you know, Colorado is experiencing major wildfires right now. On VW Camper Family, member Jeremy Nix asks the community for ideas and suggestions for making camping fun when building a campfire isn’t an option.

Quintessential to any 4th of July celebration is, of course, a great BBQ. In May, we highlighted many wonderful Ning communities cooking up a storm of delicious summer foods. Adding to this, Penni of Raw Food Rehab shares how to make a Cleanse America Fruit Cake (catchy, no?). Not only is it easy to make, it’s kid-friendly, and healthy!

Looking to make this or something else delicious and healthy for your 4th of July? If you live in the San Diego area, there’s still time to pick up some organic produce thanks to the Ramona Certified Farmers’ Market (held every Saturday). Used as their main website, they also use their Ning community to introduce the world to the various famers selling produce at the Ramona Farmers’ Market. Other healthy meals you can make include French Potato Salad, which Lois Carter Fay shares on RecipeIdeaShop.

Needing some good tunes to play during your 4th of July celebrations? Look no further than the chords heard on No Depression, a bi-monthly music magazine and home to Americana and roots music.

Not living in the USA? Share your traditions on a Ning community and let us know about it!

Have a safe and fun 4th of July. Wear plenty of sunblock and enjoy, ya’ll!

Ning celebrates its communities with Pride

June marks LGBTQ Pride month. Cities around the world are celebrating the LGBTQ community — certainly something top of mind for many people in an election year and as LGBTQ rights like gay marriage are being hotly debated as laws and views are changing and evolving.

You might remember the 2010 launch of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and the untimely death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi. Organizations and online services like Ning, Google, Twitter and Facebook have continually invested in building teams and safeguards to ensure user safety on these services. These circles of support extend to prevent and stop online bullying, while properly educating users how to remain safe online.

We wanted to take a moment and acknowledge a few Ning communities making waves for LGBTQ rights and to stop online bullying:

Gay Healers Circle – San Francisco / Bay Area

LGBT Weddings Forum – Free LGBT Wedding Planning Community – EnGAYged Weddings

GayWallet.com

Change. Not Charity.

Village Outsiders

PFLAG Twin Cities – Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Team San Francisco – Where the games began

Bullying Sucks – Don’t just stand there. Do something.

We’re really proud of the millions of connections being made and thousands of communities using Ning everyday. We know that it sometimes takes courage and initiative to get a community of any nature off the ground — so we especially want to thank Ning communities pushing the envelop on cultural and social norms by igniting conversations, and building communities and places true to their passions and convictions. Be proud. We’re so glad to be supporting you on Ning.

Small biz meeting big visions through a Ning community

Alyssa Gregory is a small business collaborator and founder of the Small Business Bonfire. For the past 13 years, she has consulted small business owners, written about small business topics, worked on bringing entrepreneurs together, and spoke to groups about starting, managing and growing small businesses. In 2011, Alyssa was named one of 100 small business influencers in North America by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com.

On a typical day, you can find her right on the Small Business Bonfire Ning Community, or sharing business tips, advice and resources on About.com, Small Business Bonfire Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. For more information, please visit AlyssaGregory.com.

Alyssa’s Ning site, The Small Business Bonfire Community, has been invited to participate in the Local Resource Café during The NYT Small Business Summit on June 25 in New York City. We wanted to pick her brain and learn about her community’s success.
 

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a small business collaborator, which is a fun term I use to describe my passion for small business and the power of collaboration. I’ve been a small business owner for 13 years, and I use my “in the trenches” experience to help others by consulting fellow small business owners, writing about small business topics, and bringing entrepreneurs together. In 2011, I had the distinct honor of being named one of 100 small business influencers in North America by Small Business Trends.

How did you get started with the Small Business Bonfire Community?

I created the Small Business Bonfire in 2011 to provide entrepreneurs with a social, educational and collaborative community where they can network, share knowledge and learn from their peers. There are a few different components of the Bonfire, including the Small Business Bonfire Ning Community, our small business blog, the Red Hot Tool of the Week email, and our quarterly newsletter, The Spark.

How does the Small Business Bonfire Community fit amongst your overall social media and content strategy?

We do a lot with social media, particularly Twitter (@smallbizbonfire) and Facebook. Our Ning Community site makes it easy for us, as well as our members, to post updates across these platforms and engage with each other on other sites.

There is also a lot of discussion and interaction that takes place in the Community that often turns into content for our blog. For example, one of our writers, Emily Suess, uses a group in the community to start discussions, conduct research, and ask members for their input on specific issues.

What’s been the most interesting thing to happen within your Ning community?

What I find most interesting in the Community is the way our members have jumped right into networking and collaboration. It’s not a sales-y or overly self-promotional place, like so many online communities are (although we are all for helping our members promote their businesses, products and services!). Our members really “get it” in terms of helping each other and being open to learning from each other. I’ve seen our members enter into bartering relationships, guest post on fellow members’ blogs, help each other on a daily basis, and get lots of new business and referrals from each other.

What are people sharing within the community that they aren’t sharing anywhere else?

The biggest thing shared on our network that isn’t typically shared elsewhere is individual entrepreneurial challenges. Our members frequently explain problems they are experiencing or challenges they facing, and ask other members for advice, new perspectives, and ideas. These discussions can have a tremendous positive impact in the Community, not only for the member asking for help, but everyone who may be reading and learning in the background.

What features are you and your members using most?

Member blogs and the discussion forums are very popular in our community.

You have 600+ members. Do you have a sense for how they ended up joining your community? Word of mouth? Other sites/communities, offline events, etc?

Our members come from a number of places — word of mouth, social media and our small business blog are the biggest sources.

Tell us about the New York Times Small Business Summit.

The New York Times Small Business Summit is a one-day annual event in its 7th year designed to help small business owners improve their businesses. The Summit provides small business owners with the opportunity to mingle with the brightest and most innovative thinkers; brainstorm with “think tank” professionals; pitch directly to investors; build new entrepreneurial connections; consult one-on-one with today’s technology experts; discover the language of the press; and walk away with immediate tips and tools to help small business owners establish greater loyalty, gain new customers that can help boost profitability, and more. It’s taking place on June 25 at the Grand Hyatt in NYC.

What panel are you speaking on and what are you going to cover?

The Small Business Bonfire Community has been invited for a second year in a row to participate in the Local Resource Café during the Summit. Showcasing organizations in the tri-state area, the Local Resource Café provides a central area where attendees can mingle, pick up reference literature, find out about recent industry trends and talk directly with business experts. This year we will be participating with Constant Contact, Square, Batchbook, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, SCORE and a few other organizations.

What’s the 1 piece of advice for someone looking to start their own community?

The best advice I can give to someone interested in starting a community is to have very specific goals that outline what you want to accomplish. It’s very easy to get distracted by the latest shiny thing and lose sight of what you set out to do. Instead, set goals and break them down into manageable phases. And use the resources available to you! Ning has some excellent resources that can help you set up your community, customize it, promote it, and manage it. Bookmark the Help Center and the Ning Creators network, and you’ll be able to get your community up and running very quickly.

Celebrating dads, everywhere

As Hallmark Holidays go, Father’s Day is probably the favorite amongst men — they’re off the hook for buying flowers, chocolates or greeting cards. Instead they’re celebrated with a Sunday filled with rounds of golf, breakfast in bed, brunch, BBQs, enjoying brews, baseball games, and new power tools (if they’re lucky). What could be better than that?

With Sunday fast approaching, members of Ning communities nationwide are getting ready for paternal celebrations and sharing how they’ll be thanking Dad.

On Santa Rosa Mom, member and web host Trisha Novotny of 24/7 MOMS sits down with Valerie White of Gig Harbor Scrapper to chat about creative Father’s Day celebration ideas and presents (fast forward to 33:00), like a memory jar. What’s a memory jar? It’s a DIY gift that turns into a daily surprise for dad for the next year… and the best part is kids of all ages can contribute!

HomeLife Magazine provides great tips for helping kids craft poems for Dad. Cuteness aside, it’s a great way to provide some laughs and lasting memories. And what better way to decorate the refrigerator or office? Homelife Magazine also celebrates Father’s Day through its weekly give aways; Wednesday’s gift was an NFL authentic game ball signed by Tony Dungy — sure to make any sport-loving dad happy.

Vets for Vets takes a step back to thank all active military and veteran fathers for their dedicated service — both to their country and their families. The community is providing hundreds of photos that can be used to create a personalized card for Dad (and for grandfathers, uncles, cousins and extended family members too!).

Though many dads lack a fashion sense, The Coastal Star reminds us of a few tried and true ways that Dad can remain looking sharp with a hassle-free wardrobe staple — the blue blazer. From the board room to a baseball game, he’ll be looking good now!

For the macho-dad, The Muscle Car Network of Central Florida is publicizing its Father’s Day Super Cruiser event — a 45 mile drive from South Daytona to Titusville, Florida. The ride is followed by lunch at the food-dive Dogs R Us in Titusville, where kids eat free!

Other activities out of the house for Dad includes a Father’s Day 8K on Jack Quinn’s Running Club Ning community, the Fathers’ Day Skinner Butte History Walking Tour through the Eugene Downtown Neighborhood Association, and a Father’s Day Snack with the Animals in Irvine, CA through the Children & Nature Network.

Though the dads in your life might not ask for much for this holiday — know there’s plenty of things out there that’ll surprise and delight them — and Ning communities nationwide are brimming with great ideas if you need any inspiration. Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Making your Ning site look beautiful

As Art Basel kicks off this week, we wanted to highlight the tools many of our customers are using to make eye candy out of their Ning communities — turning their sites into social destinations looking more like works of art and hubs for creativity and conversation.

Out of the box, Ning communities come packing the punches with the Ning Design Studio. The armada of options from the Design Studio means greater flexibility to customize the look and feel of Ning sites. All sites come with 30 themes and 8 layouts to start. From there, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity, look and features available.

Want to change the layout or number of columns? Looking for the font color to match other branding assets elsewhere? Need to easily switch out a background image with a takeover ad from an advertiser? You can customize the appearance of these and other features like the header image, navigation, tabs, module treatment, format for links and buttons — no problem.

With Ning Plus and Pro, you have even greater design flexibility with full access to your site’s CSS — opening the flood gates to limitless design and professional controls over branding.

We invite you to also check out Ning Creators, where our customers are sharing hints and tips for building and maintaining a snazzy-looking site. The Ning Design community is also a great resource for getting the most out of the Ning Design Studio.

Learn more about the Ning Design Studio here, and make your Ning site pop, too!