Author Archives: Erika Gessin

The Power of Community – iPad 2 Giveaway

Here at Ning, we stand behind the power of community. With over 90,000 social websites hosted on Ning’s platform, spanning categories such as education, entertainment, business, causes, and politics, we’ve seen how communities spark meaningful action and activity. Everyday, we hear stories that inspire us. Today, we want to hear yours. Please take a minute to tell us what community means to you – and be automatically entered to win an iPad 2!

    The iPad 2 16GB model is perfect if you want to surf the web, check out your favorite Ning Network, download the Ning app to update and manage your community, watch HD movies, store your favorite music, and check email. Complete with Wi-Fi, this iPad is ideal when you have a wireless high-speed Internet router in your home, or if you’ll be using your iPad near a wireless hotspot.

    For every friend you invite who enters into the promotion, you get 5 extra entries into the promotion!

    2nd Prize

    Three (3) second prize winners will receive a free 6-month “Plus” subscription to a Ning Network.

    Sweepstakes Starts
    June 21, 2011 @ 09:00 am (PDT)
    Sweepstakes Ends
    July 29, 2011 @ 11:59 am (PDT)
    Click here to enter
    Need more Details?
    Read the Official Rules

    Congratulations to Ning’s Most Influential Creator of 2011

    Actress/comedian, Amy Poehler, was named today by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world in 2011. In fact, she ranked fourth on that top 100 list, which included the likes of President Barack Obama, Oprah, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

    We couldn’t be more proud to say that Amy and her team, Meredith Walker and Amy Miles, use Ning to help foster discussions that empower young women and provide a creative outlet for girls to express themselves in ways that are often silly, sometimes insightful, and always authentic. Their community, smartly titled Smart Girls at the Party, is centered around an online video series highlighting girls who are changing the world by being themselves. We first wrote about this site, back in June 2010, and since then, we’re pleased to share that the party is continuing to grow and has nearly 2,000 active members. You go girls!

    Smart Girls at the Party powered by Ning

    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 at Social Media Week: Trends and the Future of Social Media

    Last week, Ning was at Social Media Week in San Francisco, driving great conversations with thought leaders in the social media space. We had the opportunity to curate a series of panel sessions designed to identify and discuss emerging trends and topics that have an impact on the way we use social media today.

    From left: Hermione Way, Michael Brito, Jason Rosenthal, and Ben Parr

    The discussions proved to be insightful and instructive, and I think everyone in the room, including myself, heard something they could begin using right away to ramp up their social strategies. Here’s a selection of our favorite, most thought-provoking, quotes and takeaways as demonstrated by the influx of tweets and retweets to #NingSMW:

    THE FUTURE OF THE SOCIAL WEB (download the podcast)

    Moderated by Ben Parr from Mashable, featuring panelists Hermione Way, Journalist at The Next Web, Michael Brito, Vice President of Social Media at Edelman Digital and Jason Rosenthal, Ning’s own CEO.

    • “2011 will be a breakout year for mobile intersecting with social.” – Jason Rosenthal
    • “Once Facebook figures out search, we’ll be logged into it 24/7.” – Michael Brito
    • “What will happen when everyone can get a Harvard education on their mobile phone?” – Hermione Way
    • “When will we see a war caused by social media?” – Michael Brito
    • And our favorite (albeit, most biased) quote of the day: “Show of hands: Facebook users (all). Would you use Facebook as your exclusive web presence? (almost none) – Jason Rosenthal

    THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS IN SOCIAL (download the podcast)

    Moderated by Athena von Oech, Cofounder + Partner at Red Magnet Media, featuring panelists Babette Pepaj at, Rick Bakas at, Sean Timberlake at and Alexa Andrzejewski at

    • “Growing a successful community doesn’t happen overnight– it takes nurturing, building relationships with key people, and a genuine passion for your topic, whether it’s food, wine or anything else.” – Athena von Oech
    • “Please remember, it’s not your community – it’s their community! Be the mayor of the town and give them freedom to discover.” – Babette Pepaj
    • “Use tweets to create a call-to-action back to your site.” – Sean Timberlake
    • “Contests should be transparent. And change them up!” – Babette Pepaj
    • “We use Facebook and Twitter to express that we’re real people, too.” – Alexa Andrzejewski

    USHERING YOUR BRAND INTO THE SOCIAL ERA (download the podcast)

    Moderated by Ning’s own Anne Driscoll, VP of Business Operations at Ning, featuring Gareth Hornberger, Digital Marketing Manager at Levi’s, Blake Cahill, Principle at Banyan Branch and Joanne Wan, Senior Digital Strategist at Ogilvy Public Relations.

    • “Social media at its core is all about having a dialogue with your customers – it’s about people investment.” – Blake Cahill
    • “Social media consultants are not the way to go – get them fully hired into your company” – Gareth Hornberger
    • “When hiring a social manager, look at their social footprint and their personality. Are they a fit with your customers and company? – Joanne Wan

    Finally, a big thanks and shout out to @Krystal at Social Media Week for helping us organize such a stellar lineup of events and to @amywhiggins for capturing the most memorable quotes on Twitter.

    Talk about conversation starters! Let’s keep it going – share your perspective with us by commenting below.

    Organizing The Organizers: Using The Social Web To Meet Campaign Objectives.

    Do you work for or run a non-profit or political organization that is working hard to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to all-things-social on the web? These days, using social networking sites and technology platforms are key ingredients of any effective organizing campaign or social movement. Let us help you find your way and give you some expert tips to plot your strategy. Join us for our next session of Ning Talks where our panel of experts will discuss all of the tips, tactics and strategy that you need to know to engage with your supporters, volunteers and members and activate them towards creating change.

    In this web cast, hosted on Wednesday, January 12th at 12pm PST / 3pm EST, learn the specific tactics you can employ right now to meet campaign objectives including:

    • Expand your support network – build, organize, and advance your supporters up the engagement ladder
    • Drive online donations – raise money to power your organization and community
    • Focus volunteer efforts – empower grassroots activists to make measurable offline impact
    • Inspire through stories – leverage viral multimedia tools to help bring your activist movement to supporters across the world

    Register for the web cast today, and learn how to create a community dedicated to your passionate supporters and volunteers with a platform that fuels grassroots organizing, community engagement and fundraising to meet campaign objectives.


    odd Zeigler
    Todd Zeigler
    Senior Vice President, Client Services at the Bivings Groups

    Joseph Porcelli
    Joseph Porcelli
    Community Engagement Strategist

    Peter Slutsky
    Peter Slutsky
    Strategic Relationships Manager, Ning, Inc.

    Please forward this to colleagues who might be interested in learning more.