Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ning on Mt. Everest

Mountain climber Georgina Miranda is participating in the “7 Summits Challenge” (climbing the highest peaks on each of the 7 continents) to raise awareness for oppressed women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She’s already climbed 5 of the 7 peaks, and is now on her way to tackle the mighty Mt. Everest.

She’s using the Ning-powered Climb Take Action to document her adventure, stay in touch with the outside world and continue raising awareness for her cause. Though bandwidth and connectivity will be scarce at the top of the world, she’s planning to check in as often as possible through photos, posts and status updates.

We invite you to join Climb Take Action to follow along and help support her efforts.

A New Generation of Philanthropists

It’s no secret that over the past few years, social media has been a huge driver of offline activism and grassroots organizing. Campaigns like Pepsi Refresh and Kohl’s Cares have proved that social media can be used to empower ordinary citizens to become passionate supporters and advocates for social change.

At Ning, we’re proud to be the platform that powers thousands of cause-related social websites including Keep A Child Alive, GetUrGoodOn, Autism Speaks, and Music For Relief to name just a few. Ning Creators like these have been true innovators when it comes to using social to foster good will and further worthy causes. There’s a lot we can learn from them and I encourage you to check out their sites.

Another program that’s pushing the boundaries of social philanthropy is going on today across the globe, and it’s called A Twestival.

Twestival (or Twitter-Festival) is a single day, global movement which uses the power of social media to organize offline events that mobilize communities in support of a local cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if communities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact.

Since 2009, over 200 cities have participated in Twestival, raising close to $1.2 million for important causes like clean water and education. Twestival Local events are coordinated 100% by volunteers and 100% of the funds raised through ticket sales and donations go directly to support charitable projects.

I had the chance to sit down with Twestival’s local San Francisco organizer, Krystyl Baldwin, to discuss how she and the founders are using social media channels, particularly Twitter, to mobilize around causes that matter to their communities.

What proof have you seen that social media has made it easier for organizations and individuals to fuel social change?

In the previous years of doing Twestival, we’ve used the power of one social media tool, Twitter. By reaching out to friends and influencers, we’ve been able to create viral buzz that has brought awareness not only the event but to the charity that we support.

How do you tap into the communities online who are most apt to get involved?

The hardest part is finding the right person to talk to. You can talk to anyone within an online community, but what you need to aim for is finding the person with the biggest voice and speaking with them.

Given the limitation of 140 characters, what is the art behind crafting a tweet compelling enough to inspire real action?

This is a craft that is hard for even the biggest corporations to deliver. I have found that its better to make it sound like its coming from a person and not a company or ‘brand’. The more personal you make the tweet, the more engagement you’re likely to receive.

How did Twestival SF decide to Support Juma Ventures, a youth program designed to help young adults get into college and ensure they can achieve a college degree?

We researched several charities surrounding San Francisco and reached out to those that we thought would benefit from this event. And we also opened an online poll for the community to vote on the charity they thought should be this years beneficiary. Each charity was asked to fill out the form, and then have their community vote for them. The community voted the most for Juma Ventures.

Beyond Twitter, how else are people using social media to do good and help charities?

Some organizations have chosen to use retweets and hashtags as a means to raise money for charity. Or even something as simple as a ‘like’ on Facebook or Ning.

What’s the most important thing you’re hearing from people about Twestival local and how it’s helping?

The most important thing is that they are now becoming aware of Juma Ventures, our  beneficiary. And are welcoming donations and awareness towards the organization and their efforts.

When and where will the San Francisco event be held?

March 24, 2011 at 6 p.m. at Atomosphere, 47 Broadway Street in San Francisco.

Thanks for the interview Krystal and good luck tonight!

South by Southwest & Back

Last week, the Ning team joined the throngs of artists, companies and party-goers at SXSW. We started by celebrating the launch of Mogwee, our new mobile application, at Mogwee Live @ The Mowhawk.

Our design team also set up shop at The Rumbler Lounge to work 1:1 with bands to build custom social destinations of their own. At Ning, music is in our DNA, and our platform powers many music-related social websites like Linkin Park, This is 50, and Weezer. We wanted to make it easy for up-and-coming bands debuting at SXSW to leverage Ning in the same way. With the quick help of our designers, bands went from zero to social in minutes. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do with their new social destinations!

Click on the above photo to see more behind-the-scenes footage from our adventures at SXSW!

Ning Communities Pitch in to Help Japan Aid

The recent 9.0 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami in Japan on March 11 led to thousands of death and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. What makes the situation tougher is that the challenges kept escalating in the past few days — with over two dozen aftershocks that were greater than 6.0, in addition to the radiation concerns caused by nuclear power plant blasts.

Social media has already played a vital role in recovering from this devastating earthquake. Not only is it a way for affected people to connect and stay informed, it also brings the world closer as personal stories unfold in front of us despite geographic and language boundaries. A sense of community has been formed, and our hearts go out to the victims. Our cheers also go out to the heroic nuclear power plant workers, firefighters, and volunteers who are working against the odds to rebuild.

Within the overall Ning community, a number of you have stepped up with creative ways to help with the recovery of Japan:

Linkin Park has designed two new t-shirts that are now for sale on the official site. Proceeds will be donated to Music for Relief to help earthquake survivors. You can visit here to purchase.

Spencer Barfuss from the Theologica Community on Ning created a beautiful new Ning Theme that anyone can purchase for $5. All proceeds go to an earthquake relief agency in Japan called Crash Japan. See details here.

Theologica Community,

These are just a few examples that were surfaced to us, and I’m sure there are many more. Feel free to share your own relief effort ideas in the comments below.

Ning at SXSW

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference is kicking off this week in Austin, TX. We’re excited to share some great ways to stay connected at the conference, as well as invite attendees to some of our Ning-sponsored events.

The Unofficial SXSW Insider’s Guide

We’ve relaunched our annual Unofficial SXSW Insider’s Guide. It’s a fantastic resource for discovering tips, events, photos, videos and more. We’ve also just updated our HootSuite App with improved refreshing and past activity functionality, and it’s a great way to stay on top of Insider’s Guide activity. In addition, thanks to our friends at Mobile Roadie, you can now take the guide in your pocket via our companion iPhone and Android apps.


Last week we launched a new mobile social communication service called Mogwee. It’s a perfect way to stay in touch with friends and co-workers and coordinate meetups while at the conference. You can grab it here.

Official SXSW Opening Night After Party

We’re throwing a party to celebrate Mogwee, and we’d love you to attend! It’s happening at The Mohawk on Saturday, March 12th at 8pm. If we spot you using Mogwee at the party, we’ll hook you up with free beer, VIP access and other surprises. RSVP early, as admission is first come, first serve.

Ning Design Breakfast

On Monday, March 14th at 9am, we’ll be hosting a designer meetup/free breakfast at Frank (4th & Colorado). Swing by to meet designers from Ning and Typekit, as well as learn more about our just-announced Ning Design Competition.

Rumbler Lounge Ning Design Sessions for Bands

For bands attending the music portion of SXSW, Ning will be offering free 30-minute design sessions at The Rumbler Lounge from noon until 8pm on March 16th-19th. If you’re looking to take your band’s current website to the next level, be sure to sign up for a session.

Announcing the Ning Design Competition: Win $10,000 and a Trip to New York City

We’re extremely excited to announce the launch of the Ning Design Competition! Following last month’s release of the Ning Design Studio, we’re using this competition to help us jumpstart submissions to our upcoming Theme Marketplace, a feature which will allow external designers to create, submit and ultimately sell a theme on Ning.

To judge the entries, we’ve assembled a fantastic panel of world-class designers, including:

All entries will be eligible for future sale in the Theme Marketplace, with the top three winners receiving a trip to New York City for dinner with the competition judges, a one-year Ning Pro subscription, and the following additional prizes:

1st Place – $10,000
2nd Place – $1,000 + 27″ Apple Cinema Display
3rd Place – $1,000 + 27″ Apple Cinema Display

We’re thrilled to have Typekit as our competition sponsor, offering a comprehensive selection of fonts for our designers to use in their entries.

The competition ends on April 15th, 2011, with winners slated to be announced on May 10th.

Also, if you’re planning to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, TX this year, please join Ning and our friends at TypeKit for breakfast on March 14th, 2011 at Frank’s (on 4th and Colorado). We’ll be there to answer your questions about the design studio and share tips on submitting a theme.

Our Ning Design Competition site has all the information you need to get started. We look forward to seeing your entries!