New Media Tool Corner: Ning

23 Apr

I thought I’d start a new feature on the blog, one that will continue if it proves popular. What I’ll do is check out a new media tool that has enough hype that it’s reached me, and tell you what I think.  Then we can discuss.

First, a bit of background:  On the contiuum of PR people — from, say, traditional media strategists who think blogs are something you call a plumber fix to social media types blissfully unaware that there are large majorities with little time yet for collaborating, socializing, twittering or otherwise generating content online — my position is simply that a) I love cool new online things; b) I’m usually disappointed by their ability to change my life; and c) some of this stuff works for business and some stuff doesn’t. I also come at this from a more “business” focus than many — getting masses of consumers to get excited about your brand is nice; incorporating collaborative technology to improve business performance or customer relationships in a B2B environment is a whole different challenge.

So I thought I’d provide a mini review of some of the latest tools that I’ve come across… and their potential value to communications professionals and marketrs.

Today’s topic:  Ning.

Ning is basically MySpace or Facebook in a box…without the box.  They tout themselves as giving you the ability to build your own social network for anything.  If you want to create and brand your own social network, you go to Ning and in about 10 minutes, you have a profile on the web under a self-branded URL.  Then you can go out and get people to sign on and everyone can know what everyone else in your network is doing.  You can make your network private or public as you wish. It’s all free.

The platform is insanely simple.  Easy as setting up a blog on Blogger or WordPress.  I just set up a network in about 10 minutes.  Check it out at

What I like about this is that if I’m at a small business, or even a large one, I can quickly form a network for a team or extended network of vendor partners that will help us keep informed on what we’re doing and share ideas quickly.  Or, if I’m a small business, I’ve quickly got a networking platform for my most ardent customers, supporters and fans.  How about a private school who want to set up a private network for parents and families?  Advanced features for busineses that want to retain data on site or use their own URLs are there for extremely reasonable fees.

Why not just Facebook or MySpace?  My take is that this is easier, more customizable and simpler to make your own with a certain amount of privacy control.  But I’m willing to be argued on the point.

Check it out.  Or let me know — is there something better out there? Heck, join my network and tell me what you think.



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