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Disappointed In Ning

Posted by on Jan 11, 2010

Back in 2008, I wrote a post based on a complaint an acquaintance of mine had with LinkedIn. At that time, he was very active on LinkedIn, and he’d had enough of some of the bureaucratic stuff he was putting up with after all the time and energy he’d put into the group, for free no less.

At the time he hadn’t decided where he was going to go, but he eventually ended up on Ning. Ning allows people to create their own social or business communities and networks or join other communities already established.

Truthfully, when you first go there it doesn’t look like much. I don’t even know how you’d go about finding communities you’d want to join. In my case, I was invited to join his community, which I did because I had belonged to his community on both LinkedIn and on YahooGroups, which we all know is gone now. He started with one group within his community, then expanded it into many areas. He also got a lot of people to join, which shows how good he is as a networker.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that I just don’t get Ning at all. For all the things my friend has tried to do, there’s almost never been any real conversation that’s taken place. I’ve tried starting topics, only to have them die upon arrival. Frankly, I had hoped that it might be the thing to take the place of Ryze, which seemed to be in decline, but I can’t honestly say it’s done that for me. I’ve become more disenchanted with the one or two line messages that pop up from time to time, often seeming to be hawking some event or product rather than attempting to create a community of conversation.

Yeah, I know, it almost sounds like some of the rants against Facebook here and there, but at least Facebook is entertaining, if one wishes to be entertained. And Facebook is really easy to use; I just think that Ning is too minimalistic in some ways to be really viable for the masses. Also, what is the real purpose of Ning? Is it a business networking site, a social networking site… I don’t really know.

So, I’ve gone in and left every group I was a part of. I didn’t cancel my account, and I’m not sure why I haven’t canceled my account. Maybe I’m still hoping that someone or something will spark an interest and a real community that I can be a part of. It’s not going to be me, since I have my blogs and other outlets to take care of. I guess we’ll see where it all goes.

Anyone else have thoughts about Ning they’d like to share?

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I’m a member of a few Ning groups, but I agree they don’t seem to be very engaging. I forget I’m a member. I do think the Twitter parties seem to gather people on a particular subject [although this seems to be more predominant with Mom Bloggers]. Or maybe I’m just a bad group participant.
.-= Anne´s last blog ..Auto Speak with Dip Stick =-.

January 11th, 2010 | 9:25 PM

No, I think it’s how Ning is set up. You can create communities, but you have to drive the communities into action because most folks don’t just engage with each other. The thing I like about Twitter is that you can get a group of people to engage, and if you can get enough local people engaging you actually get opportunities to meet them in person. We’ll be doing our 3rd live event on the 23rd; I love that!

January 11th, 2010 | 11:52 PM

Not sure how I feel about Ning. I’ve seen some people do pretty well with building a great network that provides a solid foundation for their products and services, Lashanda Henry’s network is a good example though it also has its share of self promotion without interactive contributions from others.

I’ve had some limited success with my own network and have done much better with establishing a forum of my own outside of Ning. One of the big disadvantages of Ning is changes made to network services that are beyond a network creator’s control. I’m concerned that at some point, all of the time and effort invested in content will be lost to whatever new direction Ning might take so I’m simply using Ning as another way to build relations and lead folks to my other offerings.
.-= Iceman Baldy´s last blog ..The Black Internet Marketing Forum has Added New Forum Categories for Black Online Marketers =-.

January 11th, 2010 | 11:36 PM

I think that’s a serious concern to have, Iceman. To tell you the truth, when I went to the main page today to make sure I had that link correct, I didn’t remember it looking like that when I first got there. And it’s a blog page yet, without a lot of information to tell people what they can do. So, everyone is just supposed to “know”; bad business model if you ask me. Well, at least they did get a writeup on CNN last May; guess that counts for something.

January 11th, 2010 | 11:55 PM

Hi Mitch,

Im a member of so many ning groups and communities and I have to admit it’s not that good, not a very engaging social site at all.

I agree with what Todd said, People spends more time on twitter and Facebook as this gives more excitement and sucks up time leaving no chances of opening other social sites.
.-= Jp Manching @ Beginners Blogging Guide´s last blog ..What are NoFollow/DoFollow Links? Explained for Beginners =-.

January 12th, 2010 | 5:23 AM

Thanks for your thoughts JP. You’re right in saying those are the top two, but isn’t it fascinating how, if we were having this conversation 3 years ago, most people would have put MySpace at the top of this list?

January 12th, 2010 | 2:53 PM

Hi Mitch,

I think now-a-days, there are just too many “opportunities” to be “social”. It seems like everybody, and their brother is building a forum, or “community” in which they’d like us to come and provide free content .. umm, I mean interact and network.

There’s just not enough hours in the day.

Most people have no choice but to pick and choose where they will spend their valuable time. And really, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the obvious defaults.

Until I am satisfied that I’m making the connections I want to on those sites (and my own blog), I don’t even have the desire to explore “other options”.
.-= Todd Morrris´s last blog ..Taking An Online College Class =-.

January 12th, 2010 | 5:04 AM

You make a great point, Todd. There really are a lot of options, and many folks don’t really know what to do about them. Some have said here that they want more integration of everything; I wonder if that will help solve some of our issues later, or just confuse things, like IM did, because there’s lots of different choices on one platform.

January 12th, 2010 | 2:52 PM

Aww, how cute is it that my social circles have converged? Iceman reads your site, too! You should check his stuff, Mitch.

As to the conversation at hand, Ning is hit and miss.


So is all social media.

It’s a tool and its effectiveness relies on the initial community builder, their intent, other community founders and the rate of growth.

Mathematical equations could probably be made out of that last one.

As Iceman mentioned, Sistapreneurs is a hot group. So is Triibes, if you were able to get in when Seth Godin gave out invites. Even Iceman is building is own group.

Granted, I am a member of at least 5 other groups in addition to those three. Alas, they are not active at all and there’s a LOT of MLM spammers (what is up with those folks??)

Much like you meet people that you don’t jive with after their first – or even 2nd – impression, it’s good to still be out there networking.

Once you find the social networking circles that work for you as an entrepreneur, the effort proves worthy!

January 12th, 2010 | 9:46 AM

Hi Natasha,

Iceman and I go way back; I think we connected on Facebook first.

I think one of my big gripes with Ning is that it doesn’t make it easy to find these groups. You pretty much have to wait to be invited to join something and hope that it’s what you’re looking for. Then when you find it, the silence is often deafening.

January 12th, 2010 | 2:55 PM

I enjoy several communities hosted by Ning.

I have two of my own and enjoy interacting with others on a regular basis.

I’m not as active at as I used to be, but still check in a couple of times a day.

I’m enjoying the social networking community I’m helping to build for Murphy, NC at and look forward to helping it grow over the coming years.

Maybe others won’t be impressed by either of those two communities. I don’t know.

I’m enjoying it.

All the best,

.-= John Dilbeck´s last blog ..Jan 6, Weblogs – Dream Tools =-.

January 12th, 2010 | 4:34 PM

I’m glad Ning is working well for you, John. I think Ning works for you like Twitter works for me. I’ve got myself into a nice little community on Twitter that also meets in person every once in awhile, and I’d assume that you could do the same thing with your Murphy group.

By the way, I also noticed all the offshoot groups, including the unexplained phenomena group; now there’s a group I’d be a member of! lol

January 12th, 2010 | 4:48 PM

Good morning, Mitch.

Yes, I think you’re right. You’ve found a nice community on Twitter and I’ve found a couple on Ning.

While I still drop into Ryze now and then, and visit Facebook every other day or so, I seem to fit in better with the communities I’ve connected with on Ning.

A couple of years ago, that would have been MySpace, but I haven’t gone there in a long time.

We plan to have a get-together in the spring with members of our Murphy Connections community.

I’ve been interested in unexplained phenomena for a long time. A lot of people are hesitant to admit it in public.

All the best,

.-= John Dilbeck´s last blog ..Jan 8, Murphy, NC – A growing community with small town charm =-.

January 14th, 2010 | 10:04 AM

It’s a rant against Ning; I’ll allow your comment to be against the members. 😉

January 12th, 2010 | 10:42 PM

You just read more into it than was there. ;-P

January 13th, 2010 | 5:25 PM

I wrote about Ning back in 2007 with regards to their terms.

Ning’s license gives Ning and Ning users the rights over any content we submit. Content being user profiles, comments, recommendations, forums, photos, videos, sounds, images, text, files, listings, postings, messages, or other materials posted on or transmitted through the Ning Platform.

I have a problem with terms that state that anyone can create derivative works from my content.
.-= Rose´s last blog ..Coca-cola a migraine headache remedy =-.

January 13th, 2010 | 11:14 PM

You know Rose, I don’t think most people read that stuff, because I know I didn’t. I don’t worry much about that stuff, I have to admit, since I know I’m not giving away the best stuff I have to offer on any sites except my own. But ti’s something that people should probably know better before they go setting things up. Isn’t Squidoo almost the same thing?

January 13th, 2010 | 11:24 PM
Social Networking Web Design:

A lot of people are disappointed in Ning, that is what has helped the push to people implementing their own custom social networking software as an alternative.

August 18th, 2010 | 2:03 PM

For those that have the skill, I applaud them. For others, the reality becomes finding something else that might work better. I just don’t know what that is, however.

August 18th, 2010 | 3:02 PM