Category Archives: Social Media

Ning helps individuals, nonprofits & companies with social media: strategy, website design, community building, multimedia storytelling & fundraising campaigns.

measurable social media goals

Social Media Goals Every Business should Measure

We’ve seen social media growing from a simple way of keeping in touch with people towards the important weapons in the marketing stream to achieve social goals. It is foreseeable to use social media goals examples to look for the competitors and achieving your best to set up the desirable social media goals and objectives for your team. You need to stick to a well-devised plan to achieve success in social media world.

As a marketing expert, I’d like to share the practically implemented social media goals for helping the team for attaining the best things. Social media goals for business are measurable and you can begin in the most appropriate way to build up strong and workable strategies.

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Social community building tips

How to Build a Social Community: 11 Useful Tips

Whether you are a nonprofit or a large company, everyone wants a big social community. If people are talking about what you do, your message expands. New customers find you and your content becomes more popular. Your profits go up, or you have a bigger fanbase.

This is especially true today with social media. If people are hitting that share button, it’s even better than advertising! Here are 11 different tips that will tell you how to create a community and get people talking about you.

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Create a business social network / Read on Ning blog

How to create a business social network that will become profitable

First and foremost, we will dive into the importance of social interaction. Why do people need social interaction? Put simply, we are social animals and cannot survive without connections to others. No wonder the most horrifying and psychologically painful torture for prisoners is the complete deprivation of human interaction in solitary cells. Everyone knows about the so-called Mowgli kids who had no chance to communicate with their peers while growing up and were not able to learn any language at all. Continue reading

How Individuals Use Social Media to Personalize Medicine

By Joyce Ho

Social media in particular has revolutionized how patients and doctors interact with each other. Communication barriers are being broken with services like email, Twitter and Facebook. Getting access to trusted and peer-reviewed resources is easy, and finding a community of others going through similar disease experiences no longer requires joining a physical support group.

At Ning, several health-related groups have focused on implementing the best ways to harness the power of social media for medical purposes. The following are a few themes we picked up from our clients.


Learn to Live with Your Disease

Many Ning-supported medical and wellness websites give patients a platform to make their voices heard in a community of other users who understand and can provide support for the disease. One example of this is the blogging feature, which allows users to publish blog posts about anything on their minds. By allowing for constant reflection and feedback from others going through similar and shared experiences, these websites provide a positive space for users to explore how they and others live with this disease.

Tara is a member of®, a Ning website designed for diabetic patients to come together and share resources, get support, and help each other live with the disease. The following is an excerpt from her introductory blog post:

Hello, tudiabetes, I’m Tara.

I was diagnosed 6 months and 13 days ago with Type 1 Diabetes. I’m 22 years-old, work out on the regular, and no one in my family has ever had this disease so to say it came at a bit of a shock is an understatement. Diabetes wasn’t even on my radar, I’ve never known anyone with the disease and I knew next to absolutely nothing about it. But when the nurse checked my blood-sugar and a result of 579 came staring back at her, there was no question about it- I have diabetes…

As site creator Manny Hernandez explains, the idea for using social media for a greater good appealed to him, and after he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the idea dawned on him to create a community for diabetic patients, a site that has since been described as “Myspace on insulin.”

“In®, we write blog posts, exchange ideas in discussion forums, share photos of ourselves and our loved ones and videos that we find useful and informative,” wrote Hernandez on the Ning community.® offers a unique tool, TuAnalyze, that allows users to track their Hemoglobin A1C level. Hemoglobin A1C is a marker that gives patients an idea of how well they are performing with long-term blood sugar control. TuAnalyze, developed jointly with Children’s Hospital in Boston, gives users a tool to record, share and compare their own diabetes information against community aggregated data maps. Through this tool,® helps patients manage their disease, another way of helping them learn to live with their condition.

Connect and Receive Support

On December 1, 2011, a member on Living with TN posted that she was feeling nervous a few days before a Micro Vascular Decompression surgery, the gold standard surgical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Within a few days, other members commented back, reassuring her of her choice in doctor and treatment, pointing her to more resources within the website.

This is just 1 example of how Ning sites are bringing people together to create collaborative communities supporting members going through similar experiences. The traditional support group has evolved into online forums, discussion boards, and chat platforms, allowing members to connect with others like themselves. Members can even send each other virtual “gifts” to other members at, a Ning site for members battling arteriovenous malformations, a disease of the blood vessels. These gifts consist of icons displayed on users’ profile pages and are meant to be signs of comfort and support.

The communities created through these Ning sites are also meant to provide sources of encouragement. A new campaign called the “Thrive Challenge” was recently started at Vega Community. Members post their work out and fitness goals for 2012 and beyond. By doing so, the community can continuously encourage members to keep on track with their targets and celebrate successes.

At Raw Food Rehab, a Ning site for individuals partaking in the raw foods diet, members can join different groups that the site lists as “rooms.” The rooms contain more specialized discussions on topics ranging from books, women’s health, tools and gadgets for making raw food, and more. One room is titled “The Chapel,” where members can post about prayer requests and discuss spiritual support. Though these discussions are not purely centered on raw food, these parts of the community connect like-minded people with similar goals for further conversation about various aspects of their lives.


Share and Access Resources

A common thread that links every health-related site on Ning is the wide availability of resources, either through forums and live chats or information packets available for download off these Ning communities.

From peers:

Forum discussions allow members to post information for sharing or frame informal questions for others on the site to answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Posted content depends on the nature of the website. For example, users have an outlet to recommend wig manufacturers and stores to buy wigs for individuals who have alopecia (hair loss) related to medical conditions. For patients allergic to gluten, Gluten-Free Faces provides a space to share tasty recipes from others suffering from the same condition.

Innovative ways to share information through media-rich features like pictures and videos give users more tools for communicating disease-specific knowledge. At®, videos demonstrate how to use certain types of insulin pumps much better than written manuals. Members can also post videos of themselves and their journey with diabetes, or inspiring speeches that help them with their treatment course.

From colleagues:

Information exchange is not only among patients – several Ning communities are centered on physician communication within the field. is a Ning site specifically created for social networking among medical students, residents, and physicians. Here, members of the medical community can ask their colleagues, in and out of their specialties, for advice on tough cases and share interesting clinical findings, instantly. Users also post about study tips for board certifications and medical school standardized exams. The ability to post media-rich content allows members in the medical field to share images of physical findings and videos highlighting different surgical techniques.

For, image sharing is especially important as the Ning site allows radiologists to ask colleagues advice about reading different types of films (X-rays, CT scans, MRI, etc.). This site offers unlimited storage space so doctors can upload images and files for consultation, and physicians can stay up-to-date with the latest radiology news and technology through forum discussions. By connecting physicians, Ning websites facilitate greater information sharing to better physician knowledge and, ultimately, patient care and health.


About Joyce Ho

Joyce Ho graduated from Stanford University with a BA degree in Human Biology. She is a third year medical student at the Stanford School of Medicine and is currently participating in the NBC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter @MedGlobalHealth

37 Must-Read Online Marketing Posts

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Just as quickly as 2011 kicked off, it’s come to a close. With the new year here, new businesses, channels, events, tactics and trends will surely be looking to populate 2012’s online marketing landscape. But let us not forget the breakthrough blog posts packed with top-shelf takeaways, classic case studies, and meaningful advice that helped make surfing the net in 2011 totally worthwhile.

This link library features 37 memorable online marketing blog posts that graced the web over the past twelve months, presented in chronological order. From search to social, analytics to organic community management, they span the spectrum of business on the Interwebz and offer value in abundance. Fabulous New Year reading as things rev up in 2012!

  1. January 8The Big List: 168 Marketing Trends, Predictions & Resolutions For 2011 | Matt McGee, (Did they come true?)
  2. January 25How To Build Agile SEO Tools Using Google Spreadsheets | Tom Critchlow,
  3. January 27How to Successfully Implement Facebook’s Open Graph to Generate Insights and Start Contacting Fans | Hamish Ogilvy,
  4. February 3How a Search Engine Might Identify the Functions of Blocks in Web Pages to Improve Search Results | Bill Slawski,
  5. February 9The Noob Guide to Online Marketing | Oli Gardner,
  6. February 15A Tweet’s Effect On Rankings – An Unexpected Case Study | Jen Lopez,
  7. February 16The Red Cross’ Rogue Tweet: #gettngslizzerd On Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch | Dean Praetorius,
  8. March 9Chrysler’s Twitter Account Accidentally Drops the F-Bomb | Sarah Kessler,
  9. March 30Manage Like You’re Dying: A Humbled Entrepreneur’s Reflections | Marty Weintraub,
  10. April 8The Community Manager’s Guide to Intra-Community Bloodshed | Lauren Litwinka,
  11. April 10White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works | Rand Fishkin,
  12. May 3Facebook Funerals: When You Close a Brand, What About Fans? | Bernhard Warner, Ad Age
  13. May 10One Social Media Tactic Your Business Must Embrace | Marty Weintraub,
  14. June 92011 Search Ranking Factors Survey Results | Rand Fishkin,
  15. June 14How Social Marketers Can Survive the Boss’ Paranoid Micromanagement | Marty Weintraub,
  16. July 20A B2B Community Manager’s Guide To Identifying True Twitter Friends, Part I & Part II | Lauren Litwinka,
  17. August 1Proving PR & SEO Seriously Lift Advertising ROI | Marty Weintraub,
  18. August 18Who Does Facebook Think You are Searching For? | Jeremy Keeshin,
  19. September 1Yes, You Really Can Build Links With Twitter | Casey Henry,
  20. September 164 Point Twitter Audit: Becoming A More Beloved B2B Brand | Lauren Litwinka,
  21. September 29How to Communicate in Twitterbites For Re/Tweet-Friendly Blog Posts | Pamela Vaughn, Search Engine Guide
  22. September 29SEO KPI-K.I.S.S. Chart: 646 Classic & Emergent Metrics | Marty Weintraub,
  23. October 1212 Reasons Your Business Blog Is Failing |
  24. October 13How to Use 3 New Facebook Features for Better Social Media Marketing | Andrea Vahl,
  25. October 193 Stats to Think About When Crafting Your Social Media Campaign | Lisa Barone,
  26. October 196 Ways to Measure Your Social Media Results | Phil Mershon,
  27. October 197 Quick Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile into a Social Media Marketing Workhorse | Lewis Howes,
  28. November 2Advanced Google Analytics Tips and Tricks | Fabian Alvares,
  29. November 22Making PPC & Social Media Work Together Seamlessly | Jordan Kasteler,
  30. November 28Mining Deep “Site:” Operator Search To Uncover Multilingual Social Threads | Marty Weintraub,
  31. November 30Freshness Update + Social Media = Happy Users | Aaron Friedman,
  32. November 30#WTF Factor: #SEO Analytics Survival In The Age Of Vanishing Keywords | Marty Weintraub,
  33. December 2Leveraging Social Media to Build a Network of Links | Harrison Lapari, Search Engine People
  34. December 621 Types of Social Content to Boost your SEO | Jordan Kasteler,
  35. December 19The Content Marketer’s Guide to Web Content | Amanda Milligan,
  36. December 202011 Social Media Sites That Will Be Missed… | Michael Streko,
  37. December 20Staffers Gone Wild – Protecting Your Business from Damaging Social Media Content | Shaine Alleman,

How Educators Use Social Media to Change the Learning Paradigm

It’s been widely reported that America is facing an education crisis. Bleak numbers indicate that more than three out of ten students don’t graduate high school. Funding cuts, overcrowded classrooms and a shortage of teachers impact this even further.

To positively affect education and learning, educators and administrators are using social in many forms. Lesson plans and projects that worked 20 years ago are being rethought, taking into account a different and more connected audience of students today. Understanding the way digital content can help students in the classroom, and how students are using it to learn, is at the heart of fostering a new style of education.

At Ning, we see how forward-thinking educators are taking the lead to combat this trend. Here are four innovative ways they adopt the power of social to empower students to succeed:

Transform Passive One-Way Teaching to Two-Way Collaboration

Education is more than simply absorbing information. It’s about asking questions, challenging the status quo, and empowering students to make informed decisions and draw conclusions. Social platforms are tools to support the learning ecosystem; it’s a technology that turns a one-way dialogue into multi-point conversations, facilitating actionable collaboration.

As computers and technology have become more and more prevalent, Chad Bruns, a history and athletics public school teacher in Iowa, has sought out ways to use Ning’s technology to engage and excite his students. Ultimately, Chad chose Ning because it was safe and easy, taking the concept of social networking and applying it to an online community for his students. Students use their profile page on the Mr. Bruns 360 Ning community as an “e-portfolio,” creating an academic repository of their online work. Not only is it a place for the teacher to post homework assignments and syllabi, the community becomes a destination for students to share their viewpoints and grow with one another.

Chad also notes that U.S. schoolchildren are now competing with students worldwide, “In this global marketplace, kids have to be able to have specific skills. I know they’re going to leave my classroom knowing how to research well, which they can use in all aspects of life. They know how to speak well— and now have blogging and writing skills. We’re fostering all these essential skills through Ning to help them succeed in the real world.”

The learning process no longer ends with the 3:00 p.m. school bell; there is a constant ebb and flow of material being absorbed inside and out of the classroom.

Empowering Teachers to Make Curriculum Relevant for Tomorrow

To help students succeed, our curriculum must be relevant for tomorrow. Students need to be prepared for life beyond the academic setting and ready to embrace post-graduate and working lives. To create a curriculum that’s truly forward-looking, teachers need to have the time and space to do research, get inspirations, and share best practices – a luxury that many can’t afford.

One of the biggest benefits of a custom social community is that teachers who share the same passion can easily connect in an open and supportive environment. Conversations and idea sharing extend beyond the boundaries of four walls. On Ning, we are seeing educators connecting with each other, in turn finding the right recipe for integrating new technologies in classroom teaching. A great example is iPads in Education – a place where Ning Creator Sam Gliksman and other educators are laser-focused on exploring the ways the iPad and new technologies can integrate in the classroom. They ask how this technology can best be used to enrich the lives of students, while preparing them for tomorrow. Teachers do this through the community’s bevy of discussion forums, offering tips and best practices, and detailing implementation plans to centerpiece iPad in the classroom to ready students for success today and in the future.

Sam highlights that education is no longer passive, and that students and teachers alike need to be flexible to relearn, at anytime. His community is taking advantage of the opportunity for educators to help out each other by sharing ways to use mobile technology in the classroom to drive student success.

Build a Support and Professional Development System for Teachers

As education reform develops into a twenty-first century curriculum, teachers and school administrators are coming together as members of online communities to nurture a professional support system. By joining the conversation through education-focused Ning communities, teachers are no longer making the education journey solo.

Classroom 2.0 is one such community, attracting a worldwide teaching audience. There, educators become part of the digital dialog, enabling them to share and learn in their teaching success with educators from around the world. Because the conversation is happening within a safe space independent of any specific education entity, the topics covered are limitless, bypassing the control of academic institutions, governing bodies or bureaucracy. Members of Classroom 2.0 act as valuable resources to help guide other educators along pathways of successful teaching methodologies. According to Ning Creator Steve Hargadon, Classroom 2.0’s use of Ning has given teachers previously without a voice an opportunity to be part of the conversation:

“Ning opens the door to all kinds of things that teachers want to do. The word here is passion – teachers are a caring community. They’re people who care about others, getting into education largely because they wanted to make a difference. And for many of them, they had to abandon those passions. They were bound by so many constraints in their lives, that they couldn’t bring themselves to their job. So all of a sudden, Ning and other social media tools provided teachers with an outlet for this passion. Teachers contribute to Classroom 2.0 because they care. This is a huge release of purpose, and purpose-driven passion for educators wanting to make a difference. Ning and Classroom 2.0 give them a voice.”

Give Guidance to Underprivileged Students to Succeed

One purpose of education is to level the playing field, giving all students equal access to learning and content, no matter a student’s background—be it racial, socioeconomic, disability or upbringing. The key is finding a platform that enables educators to help students learn in a dynamic and open environment, and creates opportunities for students to help their peers.

Carlos Jimenez and Zoomz give students an avenue to find the academic support they need and encourage students to become the first generation in their family to attend college. The organization uses Ning to put middle and high school students in touch with recent first-generation college students and graduates, promoting a college-bound culture and a community lending itself to students seeking higher education opportunities after high school. These role model-college students set a positive example for underprivileged youths to follow, counterbalancing the many negative influencers they may encounter as they grow up. Through this trusting social community, children learn how to deal with stress, raise expectations, succeed academically and take control of their destiny.

As acclaimed education reform programs like Teach for America gain more and more traction around the world, educators are also sharing their successes with one another to help students reach academic success. Ning community Teach for All Synergies brings together worldwide active corps members and alumni of the education reform program, Teach For All. According to online organizer, Jacob Kestner, it’s a way for someone in a rural part of Lebanon to benefit from the expertise of teachers in the US/UK. What’s come out of the community is more than just publishing content or best practices – it forges relationships and opens the door to worldwide education success.

In the classroom, education is being reinvented to take advantage of new technologies, online mediums and web applications. For many educators, it takes their own initiative to get the ball rolling – and at Ning, we applaud the educators who have already begun revolutionizing the ways students learn and succeed. We look forward to supporting many more teachers, students and classrooms as these practices are adopted on a wider scale.

Ning: Facebook Alternative for Building a Real, Custom Community

Establishing a solid foundation for your social community is core to the success of any organization or brand today. You want to foster a two-way dialog with your audience, grow customer loyalty and increase organic word of mouth marketing through the power of the social graph. The problem? It has become increasingly challenging to get control over the valuable data you’ve accumulated on your social channels.

For example, Facebook Groups provide an easy way for lightweight group interactions. But in May, Facebook updated its Groups feature, phasing out and archiving many legacy groups created over the years. While the goal was to shift groups and organizers to its new Groups feature, what actually happened was that Facebook group admins were left without options to migrate their data elsewhere, and there’s been no clear solution allowing admins to maintain groups or group membership.


Similar situations have happened before. Remember Geocities? In 2009, the Yahoo!-owned service abruptly deactivated all 38 million user-built pages on Geocities. This left Geocities publishers with no access to the pages they created.

Must-Haves For Your Social Community

More and more savvy organizers and marketers are embracing social autonomy by having greater ownership over their online presence. Having a social media presence essentially means nothing if you can’t make use of the assets you’ve gathered from social channels to drive your business or organization goals.

As you craft your social media strategy to map back to your goals, it’s important to holistically evaluate the options you have in front of you and identify the ones that can scale as you grow. Some questions to help you get started in making that choice:

  • Do you have complete control over critical data, such as access to contact information like email addresses?
  • Can you always access data you have solicited from your community, like responses to polls and profile questions?
  • Can you download information added and hosted on your community site and do you retain the ownership to this content?
  • Do third-party analytics tools like Google Analytics integrate with the service?
  • Do you need to jump through hoops to use and develop third-party applications and services to run simple promotions and contests?

At Ning, we believe in giving you the flexibility and toolset to manage your community as you see best suited for your goals, at all times. You are always in full control of your community — not only can you tailor the social experience with features that fit your unique needs, you also have complete ownership of your social community — you’re empowered to take it to the next level.

Diversify Your Social Media Efforts

More than anything, it’s important to diversify your presence across the social media channels and platforms best suited to address your community needs. No one social media service is created equal: Facebook is great for lightweight user reach; Twitter is excellent for real-time broadcasting; Yelp provides a quick sounding board for local businesses; and Ning is known for enabling people to create and manage custom social communities.

Ning communities allow you to easily aggregate and pull in your presence from services across the web, and likewise extend your Ning community to the rest of the online world. From photo editing via Aviary’s easy–to-use tools, WordPress plug-ins enabling posting on Ning websites, social sign-in integration to enable simplified login through services like Google and Facebook or 1-click sharing via Twitter, we recognize that being a part of the social ecosystem is what really matters — and all on your terms.

Now What?

At the end of the day, it’s important to understand your audience. Think about what they are looking for in their interactions with your organization, brand, community or group, and how best to serve them. Within social, there are a myriad of tools and services that can meet these needs, and it’s good measure to take a minute to evaluate the best way to achieve these goals, not simply settling for the status quo or following the crowd.

Social Media Nonprofit Best Practices: Grassroots Strategy

9 Killer Ways To Mobilize Action Without Burning A Hole In Your Wallet

There are tens of thousands of social-powered sites for non-profits on Ning that are the grassroots campaign headquarters for making a change. This presence online isn’t just a channel for broadcasting information but non-stop destinations that bring people together, facilitate conversations, spark excitement, and inspire action. Social media levels the playing field for non-profits where community building and creativity become more important than running expensive promotional campaigns.

Here are the 9 powerful tips we learned from the successful non-profits on Ning on how to mobilize action without burning a hole in your wallet.

1. Tell the story

Every day, we are bombarded by a ton of noise and information. To capture people’s attention, there is nothing more powerful than storytelling. Stories promote active listening and interaction, meaning that your message is much more likely to be digested and repeated to others. As Mother Theresa once said, “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” So start connecting with your audience by telling the story of one person in need, instead of facts and figures about the issue.

2. Design matters

Let’s face it – often people judge by appearance and the same goes for non-profits. An unprofessional, disorganized site certainly wouldn’t inspire confidence, let alone getting people involved or inspired to donate. Thanks to new design tools and technology, anyone (not just professional designers or non-profit organizations with big marketing budget) can create a stunning online / social experience. So invest the time in understanding your audience and designing the right experience for them.

3. Make it fun

Rallying support for a cause doesn’t mean you need to be all serious and boring. TuDiabetes, one of our Ning Creators reached out to its community to create the first-ever poetry book on diabetes. To promote early testing for diabetes, TuDiabetes put together a Big Blue Test awareness campaign which is positioned positively and doesn’t appear intimidating. So don’t forget to make it fun to do good.

4. Make social media work for you, not the other way round

Social media is mainstream and having presence on the social web – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Ning, Foursquare, and more isn’t just important, it’s a pre-requisite. The online presence of your organization should be completely integrated with your social media campaigns to convert lightweight engagement into action for moving toward your goals. And when supporters take online action on your site, broadcast the action to their social graphs to maximize reach.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask

Being aware of an issue doesn’t necessarily imply action. Think about your campaign goals (note: be sure they are measurable) and translate them into actions people can take. Tell people what you need and be specific. Having people take the first step usually is the hardest part, soconsider lightweight actions (e.g. Tweet or “Like”) to make it easy for supporters to get involved.

6. Get 20 influencers to get the word out

According to the recent Ning Point of View Report, you may have 1000 “friends” who never visit, but it only takes 20 people to evolve from one-way broadcasting from the community leader to meaningful many-to-many interactions. Identify the small group of quality influencers within your support base and focus on nurturing those relationships to get your community kick started.

7. Encourage content creation

One of the challenges non-profit organizations face is generating fresh content to inform people on what’s happening. You don’t need to shoulder that burden alone. Encourage your community to be content generators – let them blog about why they’ve become involved, share videos from fundraising events, and more. Not only is the workload is distributed, it also sparks dialogue and opens the lines of communication within your active support base.

8. Use different approaches to keep people engaged

Everyone’s learning style is different, meaning the best way to keep people engaged varies. When you put together a non-profit awareness campaign, think about different ways to deliver information. Use different methods to present your story – videos, photos, forums, and blogs all encourage participation.

9. Reward participation

A highly effective way to drive participation is with rewards. Often, what your audience values often may not be monetary in nature. For instance, Amplifying Education – the philanthropic group on Ning formed by a Boston-based band, Dispatch – rewarded fans who donated books, volunteered, or took online action for the education crisis in America with the ability to unlock exclusive song downloads. Think about what your audience values. Frequently, the powerful incentive that makes your campaign viral isn’t something with a hefty price tag but rather just a simple, creative idea.

Ning POV: How Custom Social Communities Can Change the World

There are over 90,000 social websites on Ning worldwide. As a social platform that integrates with major social tools, Ning is in a unique position to observe patterns across the entire social ecosystem.

The new Ning Point of View (POV) Report examines trends in community engagement across the ever-changing social ecosystem that all inspired organizations and businesses can apply to spark change with as few as 20 people.