We offer the ability for Network Creators – and Members – to customize (almost) everything on your social network on Ning.
To make your network look the way you want it to, we offer an Appearance page that makes it easy to customize how your network looks. You can also add your own custom CSS, but we know that’s not for everyone.
We’d encourage you to experiment with all of your Appearance page options on your social network, but 5 simple steps will go a long way to making your network look great with a minimal amount of effort:
1. Start with a theme
Click the “Manage” tab and choose the “Appearance” option, then select a theme that has a color theme/style that’s fairly close to what you’re looking for.
We’re closing in on 20,000 new social networks on Ning in one month and the diversity of these networks has amazed us. It is so beyond our expectations.
As one example, I discovered We’re an American Band a few days ago and there’s a few of things I thought I’d highlight about this network:
A unique purpose
One of the keys to creating a great social network is a purpose, especially when you’re creating something from scratch without a built-in base of fans. Not that a built-in fanbase is a bad thing. In fact, that’s pretty awesome, too.
We’re an American Band makes their purpose clear in their HTML Text Box on the homepage:
We are a Los Angeles based independent TV production company developing a show that showcases unsigned bands and gives them their shot at the big time. This site will be used in a pitch to a major TV network very soon, so your music will be heard! Help us out, this is no BS. We love good music and know the entertainment business, this is your chance to rise above the crowd! So post your videos and songs, build your own page and help us out!
When I first saw this, I was like, “OMG! I want to be on TV!” and I don’t even have a band.
The purpose of this network was clear in the first five seconds of being on it.
As our team mentions over in the Ning Status window on the right hand side of this blog, we’re going to release a few new features tonight and be offline for about an hour at the stroke of midnight.
I love how mysterious that sounds.
We’ll be back in action around 1am.
I don’t want to say that I have a “favorite” feature of your own social network on Ning. That would be like saying you have a favorite child.
But one of my favorite features of your own social network on Ning is the ability to customize your flash video player and flash photo slideshows on your social network on Ning.
You can watermark them so they look like this video from the Offshore for San Francisco Surf & Happenings:
Or this video from American Idol Fan Central:
I’d also note for you newbies that – in addition to these videos being branded for their particular network – they are both play-able directly from this blog. The watermarks link back to Offshore and Fan Central, respectively. Try it out.
How do you do this for your social network on Ning? It’s easy.
We launched a new release tonight!
We enhanced a lot of small things that just make your social network a bit nicer place to be, but some of the highlights are:
- When you purchase “Protect Your Social Network” it will now remove both the top “Create your own social network” button on your social network as well as the link on the bottom right hand side of the page.
- Added back in “Networks I’m Using” to the Ningbar so that you and your members can see all the networks you’re using across Ning.
- Lots of small tuning and tweaking of things we wanted to fix – or you have asked us to fix over at Network Creators.
- Performance improvements – nothing major but we tweaked a few things to be faster. This is ongoing work, as we’re always looking for ways to make things speedier.
- RSS enhancements
- Show Messages in Email Notifications – when people send you messages from your message center on Ning, we now put the actual message in the email notification, so you don’t need to click through to read it.
It’s been three weeks since the launch of your own social network for anything here on your friendly neighborhood Ning and, so far, it’s been an amazing ride. As of tonight, we’ve passed 17,000 new social networks on Ning. Wow.
In addition to the incredible effort of our team, there have been a few folks who worked on various features over the past year who deserve a huge (much belated!) shout out. Not in any particular order:
Clear:left early on helped us think through how to make videos the feature that it’s become. They are an incredibly talented team and a real pleasure with whom to work. I couldn’t recommend them more highly.
Silver Orange gave us the initial discussion forum (with many more features designed in that we’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks) and designed an amazing store/marketplace that we’re planning for Summer 2007. Extra bonus: they are Canadian.
In one of those interesting friend-of-a-friend’s-mom email forwardings, today we heard about a web development firm that was charging someone’s mom $5,000 to “add” a discussion forum and profiles onto her social network on Ning.
This might seem like a reasonable sum of money to pay a development firm to build these features except Ning offers for free a discussion forum and profiles that you can add and customize yourself. No need to hire someone to do build you one when it is already there…and already free.
We love capitalism and there are plenty of ways to make money on your own social network on Ning. Ripping off people’s moms doesn’t even have to be one of them.
Here are a few ways you can make money as the fabulous host or hostess of your social network on Ning:
Ask for Donations
We think this is a great idea and something you can do for free with little effort. Just add a PayPal Donate Now button into a text box on your social network’s homepage.
Directions to the PayPal Donate Now button are here. To add a text box to your social network’s homepage, go to your Features page, drag the text box from the left hand column and place it where you want it on your network’s homepage. Then copy the code from PayPal and paste it in the box. Your Donate Now button should show up in the text and connect people right on through to PayPal. Easy as pie.
As we mentioned on the maintenance blog which you can see over here on the right hand column of the Ning Blog, we’ll be taking Ning down tonight at 8pm PDT for three hours to give our database a freshening up and to roll out some new features.
Specifically, we’ll display all the networks that you’re using across Ning when you click on your Ning ID in the Ningbar across the top of any page.
In the meantime, thanks for your patience and using Ning!
We’re celebrating our two and a half week anniversary of your own social network for anything and the creation of 16,000 new social networks on Ning. Wahoo!
To mark this special occasion and the fact that people have been pretty consistent in the questions they’ve asked us about the all new Ning, we’ve updated our Frequently Asked Questions to reflect the real, hard hitting questions we answer daily.
It’s compelling reading, if I don’t say so myself.
So, we’ve been at this whole “social” thing for a little while and have learned a few things along the way in terms of preventing porn, spam, and other undesirables from seeping into your new social network.
By saying that, I’ve now probably thrown down the gauntlet to every pornographer and spammer out there, but here are some things to highlight.
I should start by saying that Ning gives you your own social network for anything, so it is different model from “one-size-fits-all” social network where members don’t have control over what other members are doing which, in turn, leads to more exposure to porn, spam, and fraud. I found this out the hard way on a MySpace page that is forever burned into my skull.
We’ve done a few things to help Network Creators and their members self-police their own networks on Ning:
- Network Autonomy
- Networks on Ning are relatively stand-alone. This means that you can create – and control – your own network. You set the standards that are right for your community and have the tools to take the appropriate steps to keep your network safe from inappropriate content yourself, without the need for Ning to get involved.