www.ning.com Page 2 February 18, 2011
First, some quick stats about this vibrant community. At the time I write this post, Ning Creators Networkhas 18,867 members. Over the last year, these members have posted 12,601 discussion topics, which is theprimary way members interact in the community. Members have also created 68 groups, with ´NingNetworks En Espanolµ being the largest and most active group at 553 members strong. Last week,members visited Ning Creators Network 27,866 times and created 367 new discussions topics. 237 newmembers joined.This high member activity validates the value our customers find in participating on the Ning CreatorsNetwork. They can learn tips and tricks and best practices, ask advice, find out if others are experiencingsimilar issues or challenges, report problems, provide product feedback or suggestions, or simply bondwith other creative, innovative people like themselves. Many of our customers spend significant time onNing Creators Network contributing content, providing advice, and helping guide discussions. The healthand vibrancy of the community is a testament to your efforts. Thank you!Ning certainly benefits from this network in multiple ways: We·ve established strong relationships withmany of our customers; we receive frequent, unsolicited product feedback, as well as directed feedbackon upcoming and recently released features; it has taught us valuable best practices that we·veformalized andpublishedfor all of our customers; it·s a critical channel to communicate company plansand get instantaneous feedback; and customers even give us real-time alerts about platform issues.KEY LEARNINGSAs many of our Ning Creators know, building a vibrant community takes careful planning, highcommitment, and close collaboration with members. Our first attempt at a customer-focused NingNetwork (2007 ² 2009) didn·t work out the way we wanted it to, so we shut it down. We hadn·t achievedour goal of creating an interesting, safe, and productive place for customers to have conversations abouthow to build, grow, and manage Ning Networks. We learned from the experience, solicited a lot ofcustomer feedback, and launched Ning Creators in late 2009.Here are a few key things we did differently the second time around:
Lock in company commitment.
A full-time community manager, Eric Suesz, puts his heart and soul intoNing Creators Network 24/7, and a second community manager, Garnor Morantes, backs him up. Weencourage all employees to actively participate, particularly our product managers and advocates.Everyone on our exec team monitors the network on a daily basis. I often get late-night email from ourCEO pointing to customer posts.
et the right tone and culture from the start
. We recruited the help of eight Ning CreatorGuidesandlaunched in private to give us time to add initial discussions and blogs that set the right constructivetone. After public launch, the Guides helped us actively moderate early participation. They were alsothe most prolific contributors early on. We held biweekly conference calls for the first three months toget feedback and advice from them and plan adjustments to the network.
stablish clear guidelines and consistently enforce them.
We·ve refined ourcommunity guidelines over time. They are simple and intuitive. We message members early when they start to violate them.And we occasionally ban members if they continue this behavior.
y the customers, for the customers
. Ning Creators Network is first and foremost a place for ourcustomers to interact with and help each other. Ninety-nine percent of the discussion topics are postedby customers. Superstar customers like Jen, ThunderX, Kris, the PnL team and many others spend hourseach day helping to provide advice and answer questions.
eed a virtuous communication cycle.
The more you communicate with your customers, the more theywant to communicate with you. Ning Creators Network activity reached record highs over the last twoweeks because we·ve had a lot to talk about recently: a public product roadmap, a new Known Issuespage, the new Ning Design Studio, and the Like button beta (among others!). We strive to communicate