Is that a Ning in your Group?

Products by on February 27, 2007 at 9:28 am

I was disappointed with the first iteration of Ning - the promise was social networks for everyone, but the delivery was social networks for programmers. The lackluster product saw minimal adoption, and just over a month ago, Arrington added it to the Deadpool (RIP Ning).

Well, the Ning team has been working hard. They just relaunched their site today. Arrington about-faced, declaring “the New Ning is an Impressive and Useful Service.”

I mostly agree with Arrington. Ning has finally focused on making it easy for regular consumers to build a social network. This offers far more potential than creating developer tools. However, they’re still a bit short of the target. Tools for social networks aren’t a new thing. Forums and Groups have been around a long, long time. How different is Surfpulse (Yahoo Groups - 660 members) from Offshore (Ning - 25 members)? The Yahoo Groups Directory provides a good sampling of how Ning might be used.

Ning is well-positioned to replace the thousands of niche forums & groups. Ning doesn’t have the functionality yet, but for the first time I can see the path forward for them. I’d argue that they fill out their feature set with an eye towards giving users a richer experience than they can get today. Look at Yahoo Groups or vbulletin and fill out their feature set to allow users to replace their groups and forum activity with a richer experience on Ning.

Co-founder, Gina Bianchini also has a great post written on the eve of the relaunch: Everything I ever needed to know I learned by launching a company. I’m a big fan of the second item on her list: “Underhype your service and see how it stands up.” We’ve had a tendency at JB to let our marketing get ahead of our product. The result was that we underdelivered on our promises and not surprisingly, users didn’t like it.

Anyway, this post isn’t about JB - its about Ning and I’m very impressed with their product and very curious to see how users will engage with it. They need to sharpen the product more, but they finally have a solid offering which users can begin to embrace.


VentureBeat reports that Ning has 35K social networks created (before this user-friendly launcy), and is seeing 20M page views a month. Wow.


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