Ning have confirmed they are to end the offer of free networks and are downsizing considerably. Following LT2008 i created a network for our team which now has over 150 members and is just becoming an integral part of our team after 18 months. Given the current climate i doubt very much we will pay for premium services so it probably means the end of our network and we either start again somewhere else or wait until we have an internal platform. Very disappointing given the work that has gone in to getting the network where it is. Is anyone else affected by this or have any views on the end of free networks? Do you think others will follow suit?

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Mike

I think you answered your own question didn't you, by saying...given the current climate I doubt we will pay for premium services...Ning are a business, need to earn reevenue, need to make some sort of profit, need to invest/reinvest, how do they do this without charging?

Ning as I understand are laying off 180 staff, maybe if we did offer to pay/subscribe then the service could go on even at a lower level. It's an interesting issue, where do all the Ning free users go now and where will they go to after the next company does the same.

Bit like the Times cahrging for online content from June onwards, they just had the bottle to do what other newspapers wanted to do. now they will wait, see how it goes and inevitably follow suit.

We live in difficult times, all Ning are asking for is payment for something we all enjoyed using whilst it was free, I don't see anything wrong with that.
They are reducing their staff from 180 to 100 I believe. I agree there is nothing wrong with charging for a service. What Ning has enabled us to do is fantastic, it has brought the world of social networking / learning in to a professional environment and raised awareness and understanding of what tools like forums and blogs can do and the impact they can have in a learning environment. My fear is that without access to free networks or limited access getting approval or buy in from stakeholders to 'try something new' and bring social networking in to a team / org is going to be that much harder if there is an initial cost involved. In my own circumstance it's down to me to influence the bill payers that our network adds enough value to warrant paying for it. I wouldn't think people would pay for Facebook would they?
MIke

I saw this announcement too, and we also use Ning to support some of our research networks, although we already use premium services to suppress ads so it won't really affect us (as I understand it currently).

I understand your point about the value of being able to set-up and try for free, but ultimately it must be up to the service provider to create a viable business model for them to provide the service as well. Given your use of the system is well beyond a "try before you buy" period, and the actual cost of premium services is currently quite low - $10 a month or similar - i.e. less than a £100 a year, for a corporate using the service this cannot really be considered a barrier.

The bigger impact will be on non-commercial networks, e.g. hobbies etc, but even there I don't see the actual amounts as that material for an established network, too much a barrier if someone is trying to create something from scratch. I also have no doubt that some other company will quickly fill the void for free network services, and who knows, that might be a better app.

My personal concern is the implication this could have for their premium customers - e.g. does this mean they will significantly increase costs, or change their charging model based on user population etc. At the end of the day, if we want to professionally use these kinds of services, as network providers we have to prepare to pay something for them - as long as their pricing is reasonable. If not, we will switch to something else.
Having looked a bit closer at the current premium services the cost is actually pretty minimal and I hope I haven't come across as a skinflint as I do appreciate that Ning is a business and as a result they do need to make money. In terms of the Business Model I wonder how much it differs to something like WordPress?

It's interesting you mention the corporate as although the cost may not be the big issue - the corporate mentality is a far bigger barrier to overcome when it comes to (social) networking. Taking something that was free and a nice to have has meant our specific team have been able to bring the world of social networking to our professional world. I think when you start talking about paying third parties outside of preferred suppliers then the defense barriers come up and especially as this is a local initiative. Whilst for our team it is a great thing when we start justifiying a social network in terms of a business case and placing the value versus current policy and mentality to these social tools and the perceived impact on productivity etc. It's a harder conversation to have.
The BBC uses Yammer https://www.yammer.com/ - that might be worth a look.

In addition to that, we also have developed moo.gateway, an internal idea sharing website where users can post links, share videos, comment on content, join groups etc.
Thanks Helen - Yammer is a great tool and really started gathering momentum, unfortunately we can't access anymore.

Love the idea of the moo.gateway - is this something you have developed internally or through an external provider?

Don't suppose you could post any screen shots?
it was developed internally, first with internal developers and then going external.

i would love to post screen shots as i think it's wonderful...but will check with the powers that be first!
That would be great and I'm very jealous ;-)
finally got around to uploading these - three screen grabs from moo - the home page, the video page and the groups page.
Attachments:
Fab - thanks very much. Can't seem to view from work but will have a look at home.

We've just completed our evaluation of our ning network in order to either build a case to pay for the service or lose the network and what it offers.

Should be a interesting read
indeed - let us know which way you go and why...

and if you have any questions about moo once you've looked at the screen grabs just shout.
Hey Helen,

Managed to get a good look thank-you for posting the images.

It looks like a vibrant and colourful community, really like the design. It looks funky and fresh and all those 'down with the kids' terms. Hope you don't mind but I've got a few questions off the back of our own evaluation:

How was Moo launched? E.g Big bang or more informally
It is the first attempt at this sort of platform or grown from something else?
When is it introduced to employees - induction (if you have one) or more informally?
How many users do you have on it daily, weekly, monthly?
Do you provide any sort of training for users?
Do you reward people for using it at all?
Have you any data in terms of demographics e.g. age of users?
Do more senior members of workforce use it at all?
Is all content posted relevant to formal work or is it a mixed bag?

Sorry for all the questions but I'm keen to understand how we can learn from organisations like yours where you appear to use this tool really effectively

Thanks
Mike

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