Cultivating a Community

Growing a thriving online community
is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

While you may see lots of activity on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s only on genuine community platforms, like Ning, where you get the context, flexibility, and customization tools to create a tailored experience for you and your members.

Our goal is to make building a community dead simple. We provide an incredibly reliable, popular, and easy-to-use platform so you can focus on cultivating your community.

By building and growing your own online community, you can forge lifelong friendships and create a dedicated place for people to connect around the topics they’re most passionate about.

This is what makes a community unique. It’s not a crowd, audience, mob, or gathering – it’s a co-created experience. As such, communities tend to thrive on platforms like Ning, where the focus is on fostering member engagement in addition to traditional publishing.

Launch Your Community in Minutes

Sign-up for a free 14-day trial now. Set up your fully-featured social website in a few minutes and give it a try–you’ll see how easy it is to get started.

Use Ning’s Social Sign-In feature to make it easy for new members to sign-up/sign-in using their accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and more. Then start spreading the word.

Decide what profile questions you want your members to answer upon sign-up so you can customize precisely what you (and fellow community members) want to learn about them. And remember that with Ning, you will always have full access to data about your members.

Recruit your first members

Members

Now that you’ve created your community, it’s time to start inviting your founding members.

Reach out to friends that might be interested in the topic. If this is all new to you, try reaching out to people already talking about the subject on relevant social channels.

Ask your first members for their advice, ideas, and opinions. Let them feel you’re building a community with them, not for them.

Most importantly, start small. The size of your community is less important than how active your members are.

Content

Set the tone by seeding your site with interesting content.

Use the Blog feature to write about the latest news, the new members that have joined, and the most popular discussions.

Encourage other members to start and maintain their blogs here. Make sure that these blogs appear high up on your Ning site – you want members to see them!

WE'LL HELP!

If you haven't built a community before, no worries - we'll guide you step by step!

Training: Take a self-paced community management course we developed with Feverbee, a top consultancy and expert in community cultivation.

Best Practices: Learn valuable insights from experts we recruit to frequently post on our blog and host webinars.

Tips: Join our vibrant community of Ning customers to learn how other Network Creators have solved challenges you are facing.

Grow Your Community

 As the community grows, announce your community via social media channels, email newsletters, and encourage existing members to invite friends.You can also Create a Facebook App and Twitter App for your Ning Network. These allow your members to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter when they post to your Ning Network.  If you have an email newsletter, include your new URL in your email footer, so that every time you send an email you promote your new site. Even better, highlight something specific taking place in the community that newcomers can participate in. Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Make your Ning Network easier to find on Google and other search engines. Here are some helpful tips.

Community Course

Ning has collaborated with FeverBee, a top community management consultancy, to develop a valuable new course for Ning Network Creators. Our goal is to provide you with the skills, knowledge, and resources to build a thriving community!

In this self-paced course, we’ll cover the objectives of a community, understanding your audience, recruiting your first members, creating thriving discussions, developing content and facilitating exciting events.

Managing Your Community

HOST

People behind successful social networks will tell you that they're like "the host of the party." They make sure their venue is ready, invite people, make them feel comfortable - and set the tone. Then they keep the party lively by starting conversations and introducing people to each other.


ENCOURAGE

Your goal: for the community to take on a life of its own--where members bring in new members, write content and initiate and moderate forums. That's what happens when your members get engaged-- then it becomes their community. You can also reach outside the community to recruit new influencers: bloggers, writers, speakers, prolific Tweeters and other experts who are talking about your topic either online or offline.

CURATE

Keep your site fresh and active by featuring popular blogs and forums on the homepage and in your email newsletter. The community will tell you what they like through their engagement-- and you can also discover new voices and promote them.


PROMOTE

It takes time for visiting a community to become a habit. Until then, send out regular emails to remind your members to visit and entice them with the newest and most interesting content and conversations. Create a schedule for new content to help your contributors get in the habit of adding new posts and blogs regularly. Here are more useful tips about keeping your members engaged.

Moderate

binocularAs your community grows, you’ll start to see clear patterns of which areas and topics are most interesting to your members.

Whether you use Google Analytics to measure activity, or simply look around at which groups and forums are busiest, you’ll want to help nurture the areas that are working, and prune those that aren’t.

Use ‘sticky threads’ (discussions that appear at the top of the page) to encourage the most popular posts.

You will also, from time to time, need to remove content and possibly members who are a bad fit for the community. Don’t panic, this happens in every community. We provide tools that make this simple.

The Future Of Your Community

The oldest online communities are
30 years old.

If you build a genuine community, with a strong sense of belonging, a large number of volunteers, and keep it fresh and interesting, your community might one day reach that landmark.

But remember–your community is never “done.” It’s constantly growing, changing, and evolving–based on the interests of your members.