Let’s start with a question. If you owned Myspace or Facebook, how would you monetize it? Obviously what they are doing is selling banner ads and PPC ads, but is that what we would do as IMers. Hell No! The money is in the list baby. We’d be sending affiliate offers and creating products like it was going out of style.
The problem is that you couldn’t really do this with either Myspace or Facebook because their audience is too broad. You wouldn’t be able to tailor your offers to your target audience and they would be viewed as spam. Best case scenario they would be ignored and worst case scenario everyone would leave your social network.
But this is all just random speculation right? Obviously none of us own Facebook or Myspace right? (If Tom is in the audience please stand up)
NING has changed the rules.
Anyone can create a social network!!!
I’ve seen this pop up on the WF here and there, but nobody has really delved into the possibilities of this awesome tool. Here’s my take on it…
In a sentence, Ning is a social networking site that allows people to create their own social networks. The implications from this are HUGE! Everyone has been talking about how Social Marketing and Web 2.0 can help you create a massive audience for little or no cost. Well if that’s true than Ning is the killer app or Web 2.0
For starters anyone can essentially create their own Myspace or Facebook. Does this mean you’re going to launch a network to compete with these two sites? No Way! But you can create a much smaller and more niche targeted version of one of these sites. Key phrase being niche targeted. The whole premise for these social networks is that they’re topic driven as opposed to come one and all driven.
This solves the problem I mentioned earlier about having a targeted audience. By having a niche social network you know exactly who your audience is and what they want. This way you can target your promotions to your audience and dramatically increase the value of your audience on a per person basis compared to a Myspace or Facebook.
But why would you want a social network instead of a simple squeeze page and mailing list?
To fully explain the answer that question would require about five pages of text, but I’m going to try and summarize it here and hopefully you’ll be able to visualize how powerful this is on your own.
1. Social networks are interactive and this quality encourages people invite other people to use social networks.
2. Every time someone invites someone to join your social network they get added to your list.
3. People are able and encouraged to add content like videos to your social network. Every time they do so and/or share this content they are promoting your social network.
4. If you were to walk away from a developed social network it would continue to grow and flourish without you. A mailing list won’t do that. If you’re not there, then the emails don’t get sent and the list dies.
5. People use social networks. This gives them a reason to visit your site. It gives them a reason to use a real email address. It gives them a reason to open your emails. Etc.
Finally here are more points that are specific to Ning.
1. Ning is a fully functional easily customizable platform.
2. Ning already has a couple million members. This is both a decent size audience that you can pull from by promoting on networks in related niches and small enough that it still has a lot of room to grow which essentially allows you to place yourself ahead of the wave.
3. You can download your members list and information. Even though your network is being hosted by Ning, you can still backup your list, so if they were to disappear tomorrow you would still have your complete list.
To see what I’m talking about check out this site. (I’m not affiliated with this site, it’s just a good illustration of my point.)
Powerful Intentions: Law of Attraction Community
Over on the right side of the page you’ll see a link that says “Advertising Rates.” Click on the link. You’ll see that they’re charging $350 a month for each of the ads on the right side. 9 ads. That’s $3150 a month just in advertising. That doesn’t include the featured sponsor positions or the fact that they have a membership of over 10,000 that’s growing by about 20 members a day.
Anyway... Those are my thoughts on the subject. What do you think?