Next up in the Social Media Highlight Series, where I sign-up for a certain social media site/app/platform, use it for a couple of weeks and offer a reflection on my thoughts and experience, is the social network Ning.

Ning LogoAbout: Ning was co-founded by Netscape founder Marc Andressen and onetime Goldman Sachs banker Gina Binachini in 2004. It’s software enables anyone to create their own social network based around any idea, topic or mission. There are Ning groups about hobbies, gourmet food, geographic locations, causes and more. Interestingly, 50 Cent has his own Ning with over 100,000 members. Ning was recently estimated to be worth half a billion dollars with 237,000 current networks and growing at 1000 a day!

NingUse: Ning allows for any user to create his or her own social network. The service is free, and you don’t have to know how to code. Ning is currently all the buzz and is said to have a bright future as more and more capabilities are added onto to service. Currently, Ning can incorporate video, music, discussion forums, google maps, flickr, web badges, and ways to cross promote with Myspace and Facebook.

Demographics: Anyone and Everyone. NING features a diverse group of users that run the gamut in uses and interests. However, according to Quantcast, Ning is especially popular with African-Americans, who make up 75% of Ning’s users. With age, Ning is most popular among users 18-34, followed by users 35-49.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 wings

Rationale:

  • Good:
    • Ning has a lot of potential and is doing a great and innovative service that no one else really provides except for CrowdVine. However, Ning was first, and usually the first gets more brand recognition because it’s well, the first. However, I think CrowdVine has a great promotional strategy of separating it’s call to action for users around groups and events, whereas Ning’s call is primarily more individual based (e.g. “You can create your own network”).
    • Also, Ning is nice because you don’t have to be a developer to use it, there’s numerous groups, it is more niche and interest based than say Facebook of MySpace, and it’s growing.
    • And, if you purchase your Ning page, you don’t have to display ads and more security features can be added.
  • Bad:
    • Though its big and its growing, I didn’t find much on Ning that I thought was relevant to myself. Thus, for the everyday user, it could be too niche-focused. Perhaps I will become more interested when I attend a conference that has a Ning page. I did find the 29-Day Giving Page on Ning which I enjoy, so its not that bad.
    • You have to do some digging once on Ning to find something that grabs you, or, you have to be pointed to use Ning by a certain group.
    • And, when you do want to join, you have to go through a lot of steps.
    • You can join multiple social networks, but then, that’s can become a lot of managing different profiles and group communities.

Social Marketing and Ning:

  • Marketing4Change is one step ahead with their Ning, aka their own social networking site, dedicated to social marketing. You can join them here.
  • There are groups for library 2.0 and numerous groups for those involved in government and health communications.
  • My own ID is SocialButterfly. I like the idea behind Ning. I’m just waiting for when it becomes uber-relevant for something I need. Like, if we would want to create a “Social Marketing Network” and then get everyone to join, that would be awesome. I even saved the Ning name “Fly 4 Change,” just in case. However, not all of us social marketers are connected online…so, I figured it be me and a few of the trustees that I already stay in touch with through blogging, Twitters, email, facebook, etc.

What do you think? How would you rate Ning?


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