Ning Virtual Gifts coming soon!

Ning Virtual Gifts coming soon!
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We’re excited to announce that Ning Virtual Gifts, which we first talked about here, is just around the corner. Whether it’s a special occasion or just a random act of kindness, these virtual gifts will give your members another way to meet and develop relationships with each other.

Ning Virtual Gifts is different from other virtual gift offerings because it’s designed to meet the purpose and context of each Ning Network. You can pick and choose from hundreds of virtual gifts as well as add your own to Ning’s unique virtual gifts system.

This means if you run a Ning Network for people who love dancing, you’ll be able to create an original gift such as ballet shoes for your members to give to each other. If your Ning Network is all about sneakers, create your perfect pair and offer them as an exclusive gift on your Ning Network. On top of that, you’ll be able to feature and remove individual gifts to make the Gift Store exactly right for your Ning Network.

Ning Virtual Gifts is the first feature we’ve offered that enables revenue sharing with you, our Network Creators, and is available to every Ning Network without needing premium services.

We’ll have all the details, including screenshots, the specifics of the revenue sharing plan, and more information about managing your Gift Store soon. In the meantime, get out the ribbon and scotch tape, because gift-giving season is on the way!

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37 thoughts on “Ning Virtual Gifts coming soon!

  1. Mary Kate

    I’ve had a member send inappropriate gifts to several other members. As administrator, how do I remove these gifts from their member pages? How can they removed gifts from their own pages? Here is an example. This member would like the gift (from a nudist) removed from her profile.

    1. Eric Suesz

      Mary Kate: You might want to share your question on the Creators network or submit a ticket from your Support link for some one-on-one help.

  2. Catman

    Just saw this..
    “Just click “Send Gift” to complete the transaction. At launch, each gift costs 75 credits, or $1.50. You can purchase more credits through the Gift Store with a PayPal account.”

    So, it’s not 2 bucks, it’s a buck and a half. I’ll let my previous comment stand even at that lower cost. That’s still a lot of shekels for a 10k image to post. I started a thread in our community, asking for feedback. I will add this new info. One of our admins posted 2 bucks, and I didn’t ask her where she saw it.

    Even though I was perturbed by the way this was added to communities, I may could become a fan of this concept, if not for such a high price. We have an ad-free community of over 650 members, and our members rarely hit the PayPal donate button to donate $1.50 to go for feeding real tigers at our sanctuary. Not too sure they will click PayPal to “buy” a 10k photo of a cartoon teddy bear.

  3. Catman

    I too run a premium community, and see 3 deductions a month from the nonprofit’s account. I too was upset to have this just applied with no “heads up”. I realize that your marketing folks see huge potential revenues for your corporation, but it’s “potential”, whereas our premium payments are “real”. Moves like this could jeopardize “real”, for “potential” Ning revenue. I am sure you have hired savvy marketing people, but they may want to consider this in the future.

    I have many other things going in life besides a Ning community, so I am not able to keep a constant check on your blog. As previously mentioned by others, an email heads up or “opt-in” would have been far more respectful to premium community admin/creators.

    That being said, 75 credits are 2 bucks? That seems very pricey for “virtual gifts” considering most are priced at 75 credits. If we DO decide to keep this, we can tell our members (truthfully) that half of the proceeds go to feed real tigers and such. That may mean little at that high cost though. These are harsh economic times.

    750 (or more) credits for 2 bucks sounds more reasonable, and people will probably hand them out much more freely. The end result in revenues for all concerned may be much better. I also see that taxes are/may be added, so that net cost is more than published.

    If you want this program to work well, please keep in mind they are only <10kb files and are not "real". Be far more lenient in cost per credits. The potential for success will increase, I'm certain.

    Oh, add the capability of creators to create new categories. At least one new one. Or if easier on programmers, allow the Custom to be a separate category.

  4. Deborah Walker

    I appreciate that the gifts option was so easy to remove from my network. I feel strongly that the gifts option would have been inappropriate for my network.

    However, Ning erred by making the gifts feature an “opt-out” feature rather than an “opt-in! I should have been sent an announcement that allowed me to go to my network and turn the feature on, rather than hurrying to log-in and turn the feature off! I am the primary manager of my network…what if I had been on vacation for a week? It would have been confusing for my members (some of whom are not very technically savvy) to have this new virtual gifting option appear on their My Page. What’s more, if anyone did participate during the week I was gone, I would have had to delete their gifts when I got back.

    There’s really no excuse for forcing changes like this on network creators who pay to make their networks run and look a certain way. Please do not do anything like this again! As I said…this should have been an “opt-in” feature! Ning has some explaining to do! I realize you are trying to make running a social network into a profitable business, but I am already paying a subscription.

  5. JessicaRussell PeaceLoveAnBabies

    Oh and another idea, why not give the network creators fee points? I just think it would help get more members and network creators more involved!

  6. JessicaRussell PeaceLoveAnBabies

    Hey I have a few ideas, I was really looking at everything and understand that only 1 item is free right now, I wish there where some way we could either make our custom items free or lower the points for them, as well as have different points and have other ways to get points as well as buy them, like when you give a gift no mater if its a free one or one that is the most points to get a few points in return. That way more members may get into it and more money might be made. My fear is that since ning members only start off with only 100 when all the gifts are 75 points, I am thinking that once members see the prices and what not they will be less into it because right then they can only give on gift and free pink bows.. I just wish we as the network creators not only could upload the gifts we made but had more control over points, I just think more people would get into it that way.. Just a idea!

  7. Joeal Manimtim

    Hi Nick, I agree very strongly with Phil, I believe this is a good concept for some. But this should be optional. Many network creators use Ning because its a very good platform but lately Ning has been adding things to all Networks without giving the creators any options. This is disturbing for Creators who pay to remove branding and advertisements and makes the creator feel helpless in these situations.

  8. John Francis

    The gifts feature should at least be an option and it is not. Is Ning really forcing this material onto everyone’s pages just to make a few bucks? People will get caught up in this, guilted into reciprocation and actually spend their money on something that could very well, have a negative impact on network, cheapen their experience and make every page cheesy. The fact that indivual members can not remove the feature speaks volumes about their motivation. Ning placed this feature on every single network without asking, thus forcing creators to deal with members that may have already started using it. This is a very bad move and demonstrates either a serious lack of forethought or just plain disregard and disrespect for their networks and the people here. It is really quite shameful!

    1. Nick Barr Post author

      Hi John:

      Just to clarify — Ning Virtual Gifts are optional. To remove the Gifts feature, simply sign in as the Network Creator, go to your Manage page, choose Manage Gifts and check the “Remove the Gifts Feature” link. While there isn’t a way for members to remove the Gifts box from their My Page, they can move it from its default position front and center to wherever else they’d like.

      Members can also turn on Gift approval, which means that any virtual gifts you’re given won’t show up on your My Page until you approve it. To turn this on, go to your Settings page and click “Privacy.” Then check the box next to “Wait for my approval.”

      No disrespect intended to you with this release! Please drop us a note in the Ning Help Center if we can clear anything else up. Ning Virtual Gifts ought to be a fun and entertaining experience, and we’ve worked to make it easy to remove in case it’s not right for your Ning Network.

      Thanks,
      Nick

  9. Nick Barr Post author

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the awesome early feedback. We’ve gone ahead and published our Virtual Gifts post here:

    https://www.ning.com/blog/2009/10/ning-virtual-gifts-coming-soon.html

    Check that post out for screenshots and further details.

    Mommypie, those are great thoughts. At launch, there is one free gift — a pink ribbon in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can definitely expect more offerings like this in the future — stay tuned!

    Thanks
    Nick

  10. mommypie

    Any chance that we’ll be able to change our “price” for custom gifts? My network is all about SAVING money, so I don’t see members actually purchasing anything (nor would I feel right even ASKING), however I’d LOVE to be able to offer them custom gifts if I could set the price to FREE.

    I’m thinking there are a lot of non-profit, charities, and do-good networks on Ning that are coming from the same place. What would be the harm in giving Network Creators this option?

  11. Motorcycle Hippy Al

    Nick, I guess this option to opt out is just up to the site creators and not to Us members, as I don’t seem to have a manage page. Is that so? Peace, Al

  12. Motorcycle Hippy Al

    I am not at all happy with this. I thought My computer or iPeace network got infected somehow. This is not what I want and Your explanation of opting out, is not that clear, as I can’t find out the remove the gift feature. I’m not into games. Namaste. Peace, Al

  13. Phil

    I don’t like this being dropped on my site without any communication from NING about it. Got me really upset. Didn’t know if it was someone hacking into my network or what it was.

    Is it my fault somehow for not knowing this was coming?

    1. Nick Barr Post author

      Hi Phil,

      Sorry to hear that. Hopefully this blog post gave you a heads-up of what was coming.

      While we’ll also post to the Ning Blog tomorrow a.m. with an in-depth post, you can follow the Ning Status blog (http://status.ning.com) for more frequent updates about what’s happening on your Ning Network.

      Drop us a note in the Ning Help Center if there’s more you’d like us to do here around communicating releases. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

      Thanks,
      Nick

  14. Nick Barr Post author

    Hi all,

    We’ll have an in-depth blog post about Virtual Gifts tomorrow, but if you’re looking to opt out, just check out the new “Gifts” link on your Manage page. Click the “Remove the Gifts Feature” at the bottom to opt out.

    Thanks,
    Nick

  15. Shane D. Shirley-Smith

    Would also love a way for members to send each other private messages…not just always have things private but pick and choose what messages can be shared. Love NING!

  16. Nick Barr Post author

    Hi Toni,

    We’ll have more information about the business model and revenue share in the coming days. You make some great points about mobile options.

    “Coming soon” means you should stay tuned to the Ning Blog because Virtual Gifts are right around the corner! Sorry to be cagey =)

    -Nick

  17. Toni Smagg

    Ohhhh, by the way… I have another question, I just forgot in my last post: What does “coming soon” mean?

    Thanks
    Toni

  18. Toni Smagg

    Hi,

    I am really looking forward to the virtual gift app, but I am also interessted in the business model, the revenue share and the payments. I would like to have an option for mobile payment (charging it to the mobile cost via mobile number), it is much easier for members, since almost everyone has got a mobile in our times. This enables payments from all over the world. How does the revenue work? Do people hav to register, hope the payment process is not to difficult.

    Best
    Toni

  19. Josué Lafolle

    Hi,
    thats a nice feature… but, can you tell me how will the members pay for the gift… will it ask for credit cards.. and if yes.. will it stay on my network interface when asking for the card information, or will it go to the ning interface for it..

    thanks in advance for your answer…

  20. Gina Bianchini

    Hey D,

    Really interesting idea that I haven’t heard alot. Not sure about the rest of us here at Ning. It’s definitely a use case where ownership is much more of a collaborative effort which I love, but I’d be curious about how applicable it is for the majority of our Ning Networks.

    Thanks!
    Gina
    (CEO)

  21. d

    And while I’m here…is there ANY thought around the fact that you only allow ONE creator? We have a team of 20 running our network, with two owners. Why can only ONE of us not only participate in premium services/revenue opps, but in turn hold the keys to the barn? ONE person can hit the killswitch on their partners…it’s a crucial, crucial flaw in even the most BASIC business plan/model.

    Even separating the kill switch aspect of these networks would go a long way to reassuring stakeholders that working on big idea growth initiatives is worth it. Spread that risk – make shutting down a network an action that require confirmation from anyone deemed admin or something.

    Thanks.

  22. d

    To all the skeptics, the virtual gift phenomenon may not apply to everyone, but it’s actually a huge action driver online. You’d think buying an image was pointless, but people are buying the impact of the gift, and if they’re cheap ($1) they don’t think about it.

    I’m very, very happy to see this on the horizon, especially in a rev share model.

    I do second the ‘points’ or ‘ranking’ feature – a robust system (that doesn’t require hacking) would be great, because it’s a great motivator to KEEP people on our networks.

  23. Jay

    This sounds really Good!!

    Looking forward to it!!

    I thought the next release was going to be finishing off some previous releases?

    You released the status Updates Last time but was only half completed… as their is No comment feature on the Status so it’s Virtually redundant at the moment, i thought this was going to be finished and realeased?

    regards, jay

  24. Ryan

    Will we have the option of making these tiny images (virtual gifts) for free, or will our members be required to buy them? If it’s a “purchase only’ thing, I really need to be explained why buying small images is valuable. What is going to be special about this? I can easily setup a page filled with little embed codes for hundreds of icons and images that my members can use to drop on their pages, or in the comments of their friends.

    Knowing that, is it the experience that makes this great? Are there really cool mechanisms in place that you will be telling us about soon? Is there some sort of central inventory center which will display who has bought and received what to encourage sales? Will virtual gifts be tied in with any sort of upcoming points and ranks system? I would really like to know why giving away images for money is a good idea.

  25. Terry Calhoun

    If using this requires us to build an inventory of images of specific size and shape, then sharing those dimensions ahead of time would be helpful to those of us who might want to get an inventory built up.

    1. Nick Barr Post author

      Hi Terry,

      Creating custom gifts isn’t required (the Gift Store will come with a ton of default gifts), but it’s a great idea for customizing the experience on your Ning Network. If you want to get ahead of the game, gift images display at 64×64 pixels. Images need to be under 10 KB in file size, and can be in PNG, GIF, or JPEG format.

      We’ll also have documentation available in the Ning Help Center for Network Creators looking for useful resources to create custom gifts.

      Thanks,
      Nick

  26. Nick Barr Post author

    Hi Pankaj,

    Yes, you’ll be able to opt out of the virtual gifts system if it’s not right for your Ning Network. We’ll have more details about revenue sharing at launch, but in the meantime you might want to check out some articles like this one about virtual goods and gifts to get a feel for what they’re all about and why people use them.

    This revenue share applies to gifts only, and not to revenue you generate with the “Go Ad-Free” service.

    Thanks!
    Nick

  27. Pankaj

    Could you please confirm if this would be optional for the NC. If for any reason they wouldn’t want to have this feature, can they opt out ! Also please clarify about the revenue generation from the virtual gifts. IMHO, if the gifts are virtual why would any one buy/sell them ? I Hope you are not counting the ad revenue generated after placing this feature.

  28. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Jeff!

    A virtual gift is virtual — it’s not something that has a physical property and it only exists on your Ning Network.

    It’s something you can give to another member to show your appreciation, say happy birthday with, or simply to display a little generosity.

    We’ll be posting more information — including screenshots soon!

    Thanks,
    Laura

  29. LiveforLondon

    This sounds great!

    Could you define as to what it means please?

    I’m a bit Lost on the Connection of ‘Virtual’ and ‘Revenue’?

    A Virtual Gift is not actually a Physical product that someone Receives Rite?

    it’s Just for Fun?

    Sorry but can you explain please Ning team?

    How do we charge for something that isn’t an actual product sent to someones address?

    It’s ‘Virtual’??

    please define!

    Many Thanks, Jeff

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