My Experience Setting Up A Social Network

Image representing Ning as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been trying to think about what I would talk about in my next post and I decided to share my experience with trying to start an online social network.

In the Fall of 2008 I started a community on the Ning network called Canadian HigherEd Online Marketing and Recruiting.  I went on a manual campaign to invite marketing, recruiting and web professionals from Canadian post-secondary institutions.  My manual labours resulted in 51 members joining over the past few months.  There are a few that trickle in, but it seem that the flooding have members haven’t materialized as I had hoped.

Unfortunately, this initiative hasn’t taken off yet.  I think the idea is great and I believe the interest is there.  Here are some of my observations as to why this social network I set up hasn’t taken off yet:

  • Social networks need to be viral. They need to be spread and shared like the common cold.  One person’s efforts to raise awareness about a social network will never yield significant results.
  • A social network is just that, social. A social network becomes useful as members contribute content.  Contributions made by only one or a small amount of members are not enough to move a social network to critical mass.
  • Social networks take time. Although I’ve thought about giving up on the Ning community I created for higher education online recruiting and marketing, I realize establishing a well connected and useful community takes time.  It will be interesting to see where the community will be a year from now.
  • Social networks take commitment. Commitment is required by both the members and owners of social networks.  Sometimes its a catch 22.  People are willing to make a commitment unless there is a potential of return and there won’t be a potential of return until a commitment is made.

I’m hopeful that this Ning community will take off and I’m committed to seeing it through.

What tips do you have in setting up a social network?  Please add a comment and share your thoughts and promote your community.

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  • http://nylady.edublogs.org Evelyn McCormack

    Thanks for citing my blog! I read your post with great interest and also find that social networks are tough to maintain and get a commitment to, even when people are well-meaning. I have set up a Ning network for my fellow school PR people in New York, and the group is still sending emails with 8,000 email addresses. But you’re right — navigating a new social network takes time and commitment. And social networks only get good when there are lots of members. If you have a chance, check out Classroom 2.0, a Ning network with more than 18,000 members. Now that’s an active social network. Constantly dynamic — because people actually use it! Nice post.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeMcCready MikeMcCready

    Thanks for your comments. It has been a while since I've started the Ning group, and because my focus has change to my blog and the lack of interest and participation, I've decided to discontinue the social network. I find that gathering in less formal places like Twitter has been productive for me.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeMcCready MikeMcCready

    Thanks for your comments. It has been a while since I've started the Ning group, and because my focus has change to my blog and the lack of interest and participation, I've decided to discontinue the social network. I find that gathering in less formal places like Twitter has been productive for me.

  • http://www.laptopbatteriesinc.ca laptop battery

    If you have a chance, check out Classroom 2.0, a Ning network with more than 18,000 members.