Jason Rosenthal
Jason Rosenthal
Welcome to 2011. Welcome to the Custom Social Revolution!
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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!