Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere out in The Great Basin Desert you’ve certainly heard of social networking programs like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others. These have spread like wildfire over the last couple of years. Each one has quickly gained an advantage and standing over the other one. Last year, Facebook saw a tremendous slowdown in its users because of Twitter and changed their platform to be more “Twitter-like”. MySpace has definitely slowed its expansion since the other two have come into play. In fact there is one website that even claims that MySpace is dead (Kirkpatrick, 2009) and while many of the commenter’s disagree on this assumption, they all recognize that it has slowed its expansion while some vociferously defend their beloved media.

I haven’t even looked at my MySpace account in the last 18 months!

But now there is another game in town that looks like it will outdo them all and it’s called Ning. Ning uses something called “viral expansion loops” (Penenberg, 2008) as its basic platform. What this means is that anyone can in reality set up their own social network around any subject they wish. For example, let’s say the group starts around the subject of Corvettes. Another group starts up because they hate Corvettes and like Ferraris or Camaro’s instead. Then, another group breaks off because they can’t stand anything Italian, and forms a German automobile group around Porsches and BMWs (Penenberg, 2008). Anyway, you get the idea. It’s very specific and topic driven. I decided to take advantage of this and started my own Ning network called InternetMarketingAdvertising.Ning.com built around the obvious subject. It is extremely easy to do. I don’t even have to buy a domain name or a hosting account to start my own social program!

Here is my Ning site: http://internetmarketingadvertising.ning.com/

Using a simple built-in template I can create the look and feel of my site and add just about everything necessary I could want to build it. From within Ning it is easy to invite other members who can then post comments, video, blogs and join a forum on any subject they want to discuss. This is the easiest thing I’ve ever seen and I believe the reason why Ning was able to start this website with virtually no staff. It’s totally viral nature has made it so easy to share with others and expand its base. And the fact that there is Google Adsense on every single page guarantees some sort of revenue for either Ning the corporation or someone hosting a Ning site (which you can do for $20 a month) is bringing money in somewhere to somebody.

This viral nature is one of the single greatest advantages that it has over Facebook or MySpace. I have found that on my Facebook account, which I had originally set up to be specifically for business purposes, is now mostly friends and acquaintances that have found me. I don’t even bother talking about business on my Facebook account anymore because it doesn’t do any good. I also don’t even like to get on there because someone will find me and take all my time wanting to chat. I don’t mind chatting I just don’t have the time to do so at the moment. I have even had to remove some people from my Facebook account because they were wholly inappropriate to the things I wanted to discuss or represent even though they were friends of mine. With Ning things are different-the name of my site clearly identifies what the subject is for anyone wishing to join.

In order to boost revenue Facebook is now offering the opportunity to advertise to those members of certain groups. For example I created an ad for those interested in the subject of “retirement” and sent it out to their group. My short-lived experiment resulted in not even a single click and therefore no revenue to Facebook or myself I might add. But without paying for an actual advertisement I don’t see any way to make money on Facebook. I don’t think there’s any way to set up a Google Adsense account on my Facebook page unlike Ning. This one aspect alone makes Ning far more valuable and desirable than Facebook knowing that there is a way to earn income off of that topic of discussion. Because that topic is going to be fairly narrow in its focus this will allow extremely targeted advertising to be placed on that site through the Google Adsense program.

It is my opinion that Ning will overtake all of the existing social programs in terms or revenue because of its architecture, especially for those unwilling to make changes, which is certain death for anyone involved in Internet nowadays. Ning is almost exclusively topic driven, not people driven and therefore will have a much wider audience for any group that is formed. While there will certainly be people who want to be the center of the universe and will continue to use Facebook and others, there is a far greater chance of earning money when the subject of the group is around a specific topic and you are in charge of that topic. Unless you’re a celebrity you will never make money on Facebook. In fact I’m not even sure how a celebrity would make money with Facebook!

References

Kirkpatrick, M. (2009, Apr 24). MySpace is dead – The internet is growing up. Retrieved Nov 12, 2009, from readwriteweb.com: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/myspace_is_dead_-_the_internet_is_growing_up.php

Penenberg, A. L. (2008, Apr 11). Ning’s infinite ambition. Retrieved Nov 12, 2009, from Ning’s Infinite Ambition- Viral Networks-Social Networking Startups | Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/125/nings-infinite-ambition.html?page=0%2C0

(This article was part of a project for Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Masters Degree class Oct 2009)

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