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.