Ning is the do-it-yourself social network application that allows anyone to create a social network centered around any topic or concept. There are Ning networks focusing on neighborhoods and communities, Ning networks for fans of individual artists or entertainers, Ning networks that support causes and social issues. In fact, millions of Ning networks have been established, and until recently they were free to create and free to maintain. But that’s about to change.
Recently, the creators of Ning made the decision to start charging for Ning networks in return for providing more features and more support. The change will take place starting in July. That means if you created a social network using Ning, you’ve got to decide whether to keep your group and start paying, or dissolve it. And that can be a tough decision if you have a vibrant group with many members and lots of activity.
If you’re a WordPress users have a third option. You can use BuddyPress, a free WordPress plug-in that lets you transform a WordPress blog into a social network site. Then you can use a Ning to BuddyPress importer to migrate your users to your BuddyPress-created social network.
BuddyPress is completely customizable so that it can have the look and feel you want. It gives network members an activity stream that lets them follow the actions of their friends à la Facebook; it also allows them to create profiles and set up blogs. It has groups, forums, private messaging and a growing number of plug-ins that extend its capabilities.
It has the potential for a number of really great real estate applications and—better than Ning or Facebook—you own the content, you set the terms of service, and the members and their information belong to you. What could be better than that?
If you have network built on Ning, take a look at what BuddyPress can do.