Author Archives: Jason Rosenthal

Glam Media Acquisition of Ning Finalized

I’m excited to announce that we have completed our merger with Glam. As of today, Ning is officially part of the Glam Media family!

We’ve release more than 35 major new features in the last year alone, and we have some major enhancements in the works — including an all-new Chat and continued updates to the popular Activity Feed. We’re hard at work on a bunch of new features that we’ll share with you in an updated product roadmap blog post later this month. If you’re a Network Creator who is interested in becoming part of the Glam Media Network, you can find out more about how to apply for that here. For all of our customers who have been following our progress from milestone to milestone, you can expect your Ning service to continue unchanged — and you can continue to expect us to build out exciting new features to help you get the most out of your Ning Network.

You can read the press release here.

The Future of Social Is Here…

Today is a big day for the Ning team. We’ve just announced that we’ve signed an agreement to be acquired by Glam Media. I couldn’t be more excited about the future for Ning and the massive achievements our combined teams can reach together.

Glam is the leader in vertical media, bringing the world’s brands online through their premium advertising and publishing platforms. By combining Glam’s vision for brands with Ning’s leading position in creating custom social experiences, the two companies will change the way brands intersect with social. Glam + Ning will bring the context and relevancy that brands are looking for in the way they interact with audiences online.

For Ning Creators, this builds upon our goal of creating new ways to drive value and monetize the communities our customers build. We know that access to premium ad experiences has been something that many of our customers would like, and I am excited that many of them will be able to leverage Glam’s strength in this area. Some of our Ning Creators are already part of the Glam community of Publishers, and we believe many more will have the scale, content and context that would make them ideal Glam Publishers.

Leveraging Ning’s powerful platform, Glam will be able to accelerate its social vision – and create a unique approach for brands to deeply engage with passionate consumer audiences. Authentic conversation, influence and trust have been core elements to Ning communities, and we believe that our Creators represent the type of passionate influencers that are key to premium brands.

Upon closing the acquisition, Ning will become a new division of Glam Media that I will run, and Marc Andreessen (our chairman and co-founder) will join the Glam Board of Directors. For his perspective, check out Marc’s post here. Our vision to make social and mobile core to every web experience will be strengthened. Together, we have an opportunity like no other, and I am fired up for what we’ll deliver to our customers, partners and the world.

Meet Mogwee


Hey everyone I wanted to share with you some big news from Ning!

Today we’re launching a new mobile social communication service, called Mogwee. In January, I talked to you about the custom social revolution that is fueling our business as more and more customers come to us to create powerful, custom social websites for their group, band, cause, classroom or business. Since then we launched the Ning Design Studio, major enhancements to the Ning Engagement System, and are in beta with our next killer feature, Paid Access. We have more on the way as Jonathan shared in his recent roadmap post, and I can’t wait to see Ning help even more customers bring their websites and brands into the social age.

With our roadmap defined, our business growing and the team focused on execution – I spent some time last fall working with Diego Doval, our CTO and Marc Andreesen, our Chairman, to think about the next major area for Ning to tackle. We have this awesome team, a deep bench of talent, and 5 years of experience in group and social dynamics. We also believe that over the next 3 years, the combination of mobile and social will be transformative for our industry.

Enter Mogwee – Mogwee is a new social communication service that brings together all of the things you love to do with your friends and family on your phone. From chatting live and sharing photos, to planning a night out or playing a game, with a single tap, Mogwee gives you instant access to everything that makes life fun.

With a very small team (just 2 at first) we began work on a new product – it would be both mobile and social at its core – not an adaptation of an old service for mobile. It would rethink the modes in which we communicate for the modern age – a native app with chat as the backbone, real time and asynchronous sharing, additional mobile services built right in, and some cool social actions that let you express yourself in new ways.

I’ve been asked a few times – how does this relate to Ning? I believe that innovation (not the word, the act) is critical to making Ning a great company, not just building one great product, but a host of amazing new products for the future. Is Apple just the iPod? Google just Search? HP just a printer? At Ning we have an amazingly talented team with a burning desire to invent new breakthrough products – and reinventing the way people communicate on their smart phones is a huge opportunity for us.

After several months of preparing we take Mogwee on its maiden voyage, launching today in Apple’s App Store with versions for Android, the Web, and Mobile Web to follow shortly. Please go to the app store today and start connecting with your friends and family. I can’t wait for you to give Mogwee a try!

To get updates on Mogwee be sure to “Like” us on Facebook and follow @mogweehq on Twitter.

Welcome to 2011. Welcome to the Custom Social Revolution!

The year 2010 will go down in history as a breakthrough year in which Social Media went truly mainstream, as over 75 percent of the online audience used some form of social Web technology. The year 2011 promises to be even more transformative as consumers increasingly expect and demand that every experience they have on the Web will have social features built in from the ground up rather than simply being bolted on. We’re calling this trend the Custom Social Revolution, and we’re excited to be playing a part in it along with all of you, our Ning Creators!

Last year was a similarly transformative year for Ning as we started the year by making some tough but essential decisions to focus 100 percent of our company on our Premium Ning Creators. In the summer, we launched Ning Mini, Plus, and Pro, which represented the next chapter in Ning’s history. We haven’t taken our foot off the gas since. By the end of December we had released over 20 new features for your Ning Networks including Social Sign In, a Ning Creator iPhone App, the Ning Everywhere Platform API, a new Text Editor, and — most recently, — the removal of Ning ID.

We finished 2010 over 80,000 customers strong, and I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to the tens of thousands of you who made the transition to Mini, Plus, and Pro with us, as well as the tens of thousands of you who have joined us since July. Your creativity, your passion, your dedication to what you do, and your continuous product feedback inspires us and helps make Ning such an awesome place to work. So, thank you and please keep it coming!

As we start 2011, we are already heads down and cranking on pushing the innovation envelope and delivering the capabilities you need to make sure that your Ning Network plays a formative role in the Custom Social Revolution. Some of the things that we’re already working on and will deliver in the first half of 2011 include:

  • A new Theming System to empower you to create stunning designs that reflect the identity of your community. Key features include one- and two-column layout options, header and footer control, and a whole new set of gorgeous looking themes
  • The Ning “Like” button, which will provide more engagement opportunities on your Ning Network, feed into your Leaderboards, and integrate with Facebook Like
  • Paid Access, which will let you charge for access to and content on your Ning Network
  • New, improved spam controls
  • A richer, cooler, more interactive Activity Feed to increase engagement and activity on your Ning Network as well as integrate with other leading social services
  • A completely new, totally awesomeified mobile Web interface
  • And a few more surprises that we’re not ready to talk about just yet!

We’ve heard consistently from our Ning Creators that you want greater visibility into what we’re doing, and by the end of January we’ll be launching a regularly updated Road Map page on Creators. It’s the simple reality of software development that we can’t deliver every feature that everyone asks for exactly when they want it, but we can do a better job of communicating to you what we are working on, and that’s exactly what this new Creators page will do.

Another big area of focus for us this year is to strive to delight every single one of our customers. We know this is a tall order and something that requires a huge amount of work and dedication. I’m here to tell you today that this is something to which we are committed! As we made the transition to a subscription service, your expectations around the level of help and support we provide understandably increased substantially. From September through December, we significantly expanded our Advocacy and Support team in order to more quickly respond to your requests, and by the end of the year we were answering just about every request within 24 hours for Pro customers and 48 hours for Plus customers. We are sending out regular post-contact surveys to get your direct feedback on how we can continue to improve. We’ve also invested in expanding help resources, including expanded Best Practices content with Ning Creator interviews, screencasts to go along with our new Get Started page for new Ning Creators, and regular Ning Talks on topics such as advertising and customization. We know these improvements are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll continue to expand and enhance our help and support capabilities throughout the year. As a first step, beginning later this week we’ll be posting and updating the list of recently fixed and open bugs on Creators that we’re actively working on to save you the trouble of having to track these down yourself.

As a Ning Creator, you are part of an elite group of people who are on the vanguard of the coming Custom Social Revolution, and we’re excited to be your partner in these exciting times. To all of you we say Welcome to 2011 and Viva La Revolucion!

Introducing Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini

I’m excited to introduce three new versions of the Ning Service that we will roll out in July. When we announced two weeks ago that we were going to refocus on paying Ning Networks and phase out our free service, we knew there would be many questions about what the new Ning would look like. Our goal with these offerings — as explained below — is to enhance the experience Network Creators have on Ning, and by extension, the experiences your members have as well.

What will we be rolling out in July? We’ll start with many of the things Network Creators have been asking for and extend the service from there. The end of Ning promotional links, leading to a more customized, branded experience for you and your members. An ad free experience and the option to run your own ads — if you like. Easy content export and back-up. The end of Ning ID and ability to add Facebook and Twitter sign-in. API access for a more integrated experience. The ability to charge for membership and accept donations. We’ve listened to your more frequent and pressing requests and combined them with our current premium services into three new product offerings — Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini.

Ning MiniThe simplest and fastest way to set up a social network for your classroom, community group, small nonprofit or family Ning PlusThe tools and features you need to build and grow a branded social network with high engagement – an incredible value at a great price Ning ProThe ideal solution for building a comprehensive social experience, including additional features, integration, support and bandwidth
$2.95/month

or $19.95/year* (save 44%)

$19.95/month

or $199.95/year* (save 16%)

$49.95/month

or $499.95/year* (save 17%)

Up to 150 members Unlimited members Unlimited members
Full control over your branding and member experience Full control over your branding and member experience
Features include blogs, photos, forum and video embeds Full feature set including events, groups, chat, pages and Ning Apps Full feature set plus video and music uploads and branded players
Simple customization options Advanced customization options including CSS, Javascript and the Language Editor Advanced customization options, plus the API access upgrade when launched
Includes run your own ads Includes run your own ads, use your own domain and remove Ning links Includes run your own ads, use your own domain, remove Ning links and add storage and bandwidth
Community-based support Help Center support Premium support

* One-time annual pricing

For full comparison of the three plans, click here.

Our pricing plans offer incredible value relative to our current Premium Services. For example, your Ning Network currently has the option to Use Your Own Domain, Remove Create Links, and Run Your Own Ads. You can take advantage of all of these services for about $55/month right now. With Ning Plus, you’ll be able to have them all for $19.95/month. We will also offer current Network Creators a one-time annual pricing discount that provides even greater value.

We also recognize that many small non-profit, family or other small group Ning Networks have limited budgets, and we value what you’ve created on Ning. For $2.95/month or $19.95/year, Ning Mini provides a powerful set of features to continue to grow and engage with your members — ad-free or with your own ads.

We’ve also heard from many Network Creators who use Ning in the classroom as an integral part of their curriculum. I am particularly excited to announce that a major education company will be sponsoring Ning Mini Networks for educators in primary and secondary education. Ning will remain free for K-12 educators and their students. We’ll have details on this program soon!

We will roll out Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning mini in July. Current Network Creators will have 30 days following the roll-out to decide which plan best fits their needs.  For Ning Creators using our free service who choose to move to another service, we will offer a simple way to export all of your content.

We know there’s a lot of questions, including how to choose a plan, when you can sign up and what happens if you don’t choose an option. That’s why we’ve created a place with all the details about this new offering, including details, a timeline and FAQs (also available in Spanish, here). I look forward to your feedback, both in the comments below and on Creators.

An Update from Ning

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know, we made a decision yesterday to focus 100% of the company on enhancing the features and services we offer to paying Ning Creators. The tens of thousands of you who already use our paid service represent over 75% of our traffic, and we’ve heard repeatedly from you ways that we can deliver a killer service to help make your Ning Network more effective. Some examples of things we are working on that you’ve asked for include new APIs, a new mobile experience and new advertising and revenue opportunities.

As part of this change, we’ll be phasing out our free service.  On May 4, 2010, we will share with you all of the details of our new offering, including features and price points, through a series of blog posts, emails, and conference calls. We recognize that there are many active Ning Networks for teachers, small non-profits, and individuals and it’s our goal to have a set of product and pricing options that will make sense for all of them. For Ning Creators using our free service who choose to move to another service, we will offer a migration path and time to make that change. We will still continue to allow free trials and test networks on the Ning Platform.

We look forward to talking to you further on May 4th.

From BJ Penn to vampires, 2009′s top Ning Networks

topnetworks

There’s no denying it’s been a busy year at Ning, and no one has been busier than the members of Ning’s most active networks. The top Ning Networks (by activity) reflect the breadth and depth of passions and interests brought to life online by Ning — music, politics, family ties and beyond!

The most active Ning Networks are not necessarily the ones with the most members, but they are abuzz with activity; members are posting, responding, commenting, watching, gifting, connecting, friending and so on as often and frequently as they can.

Read on to find out which networks make the list for 2009. We hope this list inspires Network Creators across our 1.8 million Ning Networks. And who knows — maybe your network will make the 2010 most active list!

  • The Twilight Saga Community: One of the most buzzed about ‘sagas’ of all time. Team Edward vs. Team Jacob – these community members are constantly fighting the good fight.
  • This Is 50: Rapper 50 Cent’s official site continues to be an ideal way for 50 to reach out to his loyal fans and celebrate the hip hop lifestyle.
  • Navy For Moms: With so many young American men and women overseas at the moment, Navy for Moms gives families a place to connect and share their experiences.
  • Spill: Brand new movie reviews from highly entertaining animated characters, with requisite discussion of each film.
  • BJ Penn: It’s all about mixed martial arts and the UFC for current lightweight champion BJ Penn and his thousands of fans.

Over the next week, we’ll profile each of these Ning Networks on the Ning Blog, so you can find out what it is that makes their members keep coming back for more. Tomorrow, we’ll kick off the series with a profile of Navy for Moms.

Jason Rosenthal, Ning’s COO, is trying to guess which Ning Networks will be on this list next year.

Introducing Ning Apps for your Ning Network!

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Ning Apps, available today on your Ning Network. As a social platform, we’re finding that each interest and passion requires a unique combination of features. Ning Apps dramatically expand the quantity and quality of the features available on your Ning Network, and allow you to engage even further with your members.

Today you can choose from more than 90 Ning Apps, and that’s just the beginning. This number will continue to grow as developers here at Ning and around the world build additional Ning Apps tailored around your interests and passions.

Every Ning App has been developed to integrate beautifully with your Ning Network. This means that the Ning Apps you add will be a natural extension of your Ning Network. For example, the Cartfly App on the Ning Network below automatically takes on its theme (click the image to see a full-size screenshot):

Cartfly

In addition to matching the look and feel of your Ning Network, Ning Apps can also post updates to the Latest Activity on your Main Page. For example, if you upload a new item to your Cartfly shop, this will create an activity item on your My Page and the Main Page. Both members and Network Creators will have fine-grained control over whether or not their Ning Apps send updates to Latest Activity. For more information about managing the settings of your Ning Apps, check out our article here.

To get started today, sign into your Ning Network and click the new “Ning Apps” icon in the Manage page. From here, click “Add Ning App” to automatically add a new tab to your Ning Network for the Ning App that you’ve selected. Just like your other tabs, you’ll be able to organize and rearrange how your Ning Apps are displayed with the Tab Manager. Here’s how the Tab Manager will look with Ning Apps enabled (click the image to see a full-size screenshot):

Tab Manager

If the Ning App has a Profile View for members, it will also automatically get added to their My Apps page which we talk about in detail here. For more information about adding and organizing your Ning Apps, see our article here in the Ning Help Center.

You can also see the complete list of Ning Apps in the Ning Apps Directory (click the image to visit the Ning Apps Directory):

Directory

From the Ning Directory, you can check out more than 90 Ning Apps for Collaboration, Communication, E-Commerce, Fun and Games, and Fundraising. We’ve also created “Featured” and “Staff Picks” categories so you can quickly see the cream of the crop. This list will grow as developers continue to build Ning Apps tailored around your passions and interests.

If you want to see Ning Apps in action, we’ve set up a Ning Network where you can try out some of the featured Ning Apps and see if they might be a good addition to your Ning Network. Here on the Ning Blog, we’ll be spotlighting some of our favorite Ning Apps in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you’ve found a Ning App that’s perfect for your Ning Network, we’d love to feature your story on the Ning Blog and share it with Network Creators everywhere.

New Network Creator Announcements

Here at Ning, we are proud of and thankful for a lot of things. The most important of which is you, our Network Creators. You are not only incredibly passionate leaders of the world’s most interesting social networks, but you have fantastic insight and feedback for us. It is a partnership that we value tremendously.

Ning Network Creators Social Network

Over the course of the past few months, we’ve heard more of you ask for a place to share tips, tricks and thoughts unfettered by and independent of Ning. This request makes a ton of sense, as Ning Network Creators is about you, not us. While it has been a important place for us to meet, listen, and talk over the past two years, it’s clear that it’s time for it to evolve.

To meet the changing needs of Network Creators, we’re announcing today a new partnership with Get Satisfaction to evolve Ning Network Creators. With Get Satisfaction, Ning Network Creators will now have an independent place to share tips, tricks, and thoughts with each other. The Ning Network Creators social network will now point to Get Satisfaction.

This doesn’t mean that we’re going anywhere. We’ll continue to listen and share our best tips for growing your social networks here on the Ning Blog and in the Ning Help Center, where we’ll also continue to share new release previews and screencasts. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, we’re just an email away.

Introducing Ning Creator Stories

Today we are also launching Ning Creator Stories which we hope will be a source of inspiration for you, for your members, and for new Network Creators who today can only dream about what you’ve accomplished. To make this a success, we need your help. We want everyone to hear what makes your unique social network special, but to do that we need you to tell your stories. It’s simple to do at Ning Creator Stories and we look forward to hearing from you.

We are fortunate to have such passionate Network Creators on Ning. We’re looking forward to sharing with you more great stuff in the coming weeks while expanding what’s possible with your social network on Ning. Stay tuned as we think there is some very cool stuff coming down the pipe!

The New Ning.com

We’re excited to launch a new Ning.com on Monday, March 9th. As Gina mentioned yesterday, the new Ning.com will provide members of the social networks on Ning with better ways to discover and stay connected to the social networks on the Ning Platform.

Not only will this make the experience of being a member of one or more social networks on Ning easier and more compelling, but it will benefit Network Creators with both better discovery by prospective members as well as recurring usage by existing ones.

Send Prospective Members to Your High Velocity Social Networks
With the new Ning.com, when new people sign up for the Ning Platform via www.ning.com, they will see a list of recommended social networks. These recommended social networks will be identified by their momentum and popularity.

This means that if you have a fast growing social network on Ning and want to add new members, this may help drive new members to you.

Click on the screenshot to see a full size version:

Ning Home

Send Members Back to the Social Networks They’ve Joined
If you already belong to one or more social networks on the Ning Platform, you can click on your name in the Ningbar (in the top, upper right of the social network) or go to Ning.com to see your new signed in Ning homepage. It consists of the activity across the social networks someone has joined. Click on the screenshot to see a full size version:

latest_populated_520

By giving members of the close to 900,000 social networks on Ning the ability to stay up-to-date with the activity on the social networks they’ve joined, they will have an increased likelihood of returning to your social network, resulting higher recurring usage of your social network by your members.

To echo Gina again, offering valuable services to the members of social networks across the Ning Platform has always been fundamental to our vision. It’s essential to making a world of millions of social networks possible. Without this type of central hub to provide ongoing activity, people simply can’t track everything that’s going on across an ever increasing number of social networks.

While unobtrusive when in a specific social network, members need an accessible and seamless connection between social networks. That’s the goal of the new Ning.com.

The Details

  • If you have created a Ning ID, you will by default have a Ning profile. You have full control over who sees your Ning profile. At launch, your new Ning profile will default to being visible to anyone signed into Ning. You can make it visible to just you, just your friends, or just members of your social networks by going to your Settings page and updating your Privacy Settings. When you choose to make your Ning profile just visible to you, you’ll be filtered out of being shown anywhere on Ning.com.
  • Your private social networks will default to be invisible to anyone viewing your Ning profile. You can make them visible at any point in time by updating your Privacy Settings. If you are a member of a private social network, only other members of that private social network will see the activity from it. As we’ve mentioned before, the new Ning is designed to enable you to keep up with what’s happening across your social networks, not broadcast everything you are doing to the world.
  • As a Network Creator, if you have chosen to purchase the removal of additional Ning promotional links, your members will NOT see a link to the new Ning.com directly from your social network. For the social networks on Ning where the Network Creator has not purchased this premium service, members of that social network will see their signed in name in the Ningbar and that link will go to this new Ning profile.
  • In both cases, when a member signs into Ning.com (http://www.ning.com) they will have a Ning profile with their social networks and friends across the Ning Platform.

We will continue to update this post on the new Ning.com.

Thanks in advance for your questions and feedback!