Build a social networking site with Ning, socialgo

October 6, 2009

There is good news of sorts on the economic front. If you believe Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the recessionis likely over and the nation’s economy is on the road to recovery. But for the small business owner who has had to weather the economic storm with diminished resources, the outlook isn’t so rosy yet.

Cash-strapped small business owners are still scrambling to do more with less, including promote their product or service to the masses. One of the most effective ways you can do this is by building your own social networking site.

This might sound like a daunting task, but there are free online platforms that make it easy. Here are two that give you the power to market your product or service with a professional social networking site.

NING

There are more than 1.5 million social networking sites on Ning, making it a popular platform for struggling small business owners looking for ways to stretch their marketing budgets. Ning allows users to create sites in minutes. With a few clicks of a mouse, Ning users can create sites and push their products and services to thousands of people at once.

Locally, the University of Miami uses an invitation-only Ning network to welcome recently admitted Canes to campus. TravelSisters.com connects women from around the world who want to travel with each other on their Ning social networking site. And Illinois-based DoggieVogue.com sells branded products for dogs using Ning.

“We chose Ning because it’s free, and as a small business owner in this economy, that was what really appealed to us,” said Diana Picchi, owner of DoggieVogue.com. “We created our Ning site this year, and it has allowed us to connect with a lot of potential customers. We’ve had a great experience with it.”

Created in 2004, Ning is easy to use and offers step-by-step instructions on how to create social-networking sites. The standard package is free, but if you can spare a little cash, Ning lets you do things like white-label your site for as little as $19.95 a month. This allows you to remove all Ning branding from your site and customize its layout. You also can mask the Ning URL you’re given when you sign up and earn additional revenue by running your own ads on your Ning site.

SOCIALGO

Created in 2008, SocialGO is smaller than Ning with slightly more than 100,000 sites on its network. But it’s easy to use, and you can still find thousands of potential customers on SocialGO from around the world.

“Small business owners can use SocialGO quickly and affordably to build a community around their product or business,” said CEO Alex Halliday. “We have a number of small networks owners who have successfully built up a community on our platform. Many have gone one step further and made it a profitable business in its own right.”

SocialGO has other features that are useful to small business owners who are not tech savvy.

“We offer billing technology that allows you to charge your members for access to premium content,” said Halliday. “There’s also our Concierge Plan where, if you want us to, we build can the site for you and you just answer a few simple questions.”

Both SocialGO and Ning allow you to integrate social media into your site by syncing it to your Twitter feed or Facebook profile. You can also integrate video, blogs and community forums into your site.

So what are you waiting for? Even if you already have a website for your small business, create a social network and use it to drive traffic your site.

In the BizBytes 101 column, I will offer advice to AlmostFamous.com, a Miami-based startup company that connects aspiring recording artists and actors with record companies and studios.

Tasha Cunningham is principal of the Cunningham Group.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo

www.webwitches.com.au

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2 Responses to “Build a social networking site with Ning, socialgo”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the mention of SocialGO, much appreciated. Just thought your readers would be interested to hear that we at SocialGO just have extended our monetization capabilities by offering what we call Member Billing 2.0. This allows network owners to create a Freemium network, whereby part of their site is Free and part is premium subscription access only. That way members can “try before they buy”.

    This and other monetization functionality such as GO Cart (a fully integrated online store), plus the ability to run your own ads and much more, are allowing loads of network owners to build real business from social networks. This seems to be the future of micro networking.

    And importantly on SocialGO network owners always own their data, content and members, whereby you always have the option to take it wherever and whenever you want. This becomes a very important consideration downstream when your network is a success.

    Steve Hardman
    Co-founder SocialGO

  2. Steve T said

    It’s worth noting one big difference between the two systems, ning and SocialGO:

    1- With ning, you do not own the content, you can’t leave the platform with your members and content and they will cross market your members to other networks

    2- With SocialGO, you, as the network creator, own all the membership details and content. You can download all your content and move to another platform in an instant. You are seen as the owner.

    This difference may not matter to many people running free, fun networks, but if you are using this as a business, or just to earn an extra income, you would want to choose SocialGO every time

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