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Charles Porch from Ning – Intro to Online Communities

Charles Porch from Ning – Intro to Online Communities

Ning Strategic Relationships Manager, Charles Porch, spoke to the class today (2/8/2010). I’d never heard of Ning before so I was surprised to discover this social networking platform with 42 million users. It’s a web service that allows anyone to build a social networking with sections for videos, photos, chat, music, groups, events, forums, and blogs. Members of the network can do just about anything they can do on Facebook but they’re within the confines of your own social network. In 6 Ways to Use Ning for Business, Mashable describes how business owners can use Ning to quickly and easily collect feedback, facilitate discussions, present content & media, inspire customers like Martha Stewart, participate in existing communities like Travel Blog Exchange, and engage your evangelists.

Charles describes Ning as a place where users can meet people with similar interests who you don’t already know. It contains searchable web pages that will last and create a community around them. He offered some general advice on website development and what to avoid: slow loading pages, abuse of Flash, and clutter. Instead, tell people why they’re there and have a hook. 50 Cent for example has one of the most popular Ning networks because his is about hip-hop news rather than just a fan page.

Roger Jackson gave us some website design tips, advising us to design for the lowest common denominator, generally an 80 year-old grandma. Liz Burr graduated from APOC in ’06 and now works for herself as a new media consultant. She spends her time advising which platform to use for a website concept. Eddie North-Hagar graduated from APOC in ’09 and co-founded Citilista, which networks separate aspects of a local community into a neighborhood hub, enabling conversation between residents.

Jeff Cole, Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC

Jeff Cole, Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC

Our first class (1/11/2010) kicked off with a fantastic speaker, Jeff Cole, Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg.

He communicated a lot of info in a relatively short period of time about the evolution of mainstream media and what to expect in the near- and mid-term future.

Topics included:

  • Traditional media falling apart due to its delayed schedule and lack of options
  • Music business changing greatly, from year’s most popular albums selling 30 million copies down to just 3 million today
  • Dying platforms requiring advertising changes
  • The effect internet penetration and bandwidth access have on TV and print media viewing
  • Evolution of popular social networks in the 2000’s
  • Impending consolidation of print media
  • Possible future of radio and education
  • Significance of branding, addressability and privacy in modern advertisement
  • The power of mass word-of-mouth through Twitter and other social networks

Interesting facts and questions included:

  • Consumers now demand updates every 30-60 seconds
  • Is a bundle of 12 tracks still the best way to market music?
  • Walter Annenberg sold TV Guide to Rupert Murdock in 1990 for $3 billion (and we in the class directly benefit)
  • In 1975 90% of viewing was on 3 TV channels
  • Now 90% of viewing is on 15 websites
  • Teens today are more interested in news than ever before
  • Indian internet penetration is only 9% so newspapers are still booming
  • When penetration reaches 30% newspaper sales will plummet
  • PVR (e.g. Tivo) is used by 30% of Americans; how can you still engage PVR users in advertisements?
  • Not much difference between internet use by dial-up users and people with no internet, but a huge difference between dial-up and broadband
  • Teens don’t want to be on the same social network as their parents
  • Biggest group of social network users are aged 60-70 (though I highly doubt this stat)
  • In 2008 55% of young people said their online communities are as important as ones IRL (in real life)
  • In the near future students will learn intro level college subjects from the best professors in the world via digital courses
  • If the digital advertising model fails we’ll have to pay for digital content in the future

We heard about clicker.com to find TV shows on the web and Telepresence for life-size video conferencing. We also heard from APOC grads about twiistup.com and kasamamedia.com.