February 9, 2010

The best-designed social networks on Ning


Guest post by Suzanne Reinfranck

We’ve long been fans of Ning, an innovative social platform that brings millions of people together every day to explore and express their interests, discover new passions and meet people around shared pursuits. With more than 1.9 million Ning networks created and 40 million registered users, this social space continues to grow at an explosive rate.

Laura Oppenheimer, Ning marketing manager

Laura Oppenheimer, Ning marketing manager

A few things differentiate Ning from most other social platforms:

• It has pioneered the market for people to self-organize around the “what” rather than the “who” in social networking

• It enables communities to organize around interests and passions and fully express what makes them unique.

• Ning offers a fairly wide degree of flexibility in customizing the look and feel of your site.

We asked Laura Oppenheimer, Ning’s marketing manager, for some of her favorite nonprofit and social change sites. Here are Laura’s picks of “beautifully designed/professional Ning Networks both generally, and specific to nonprofit organizations,” along with our capsule descriptions:

7 well-designed Ning networks


1. The Expedition Republic

Mountain Hardwear’s The Expedition Republic is an online social network where climbers, explorers and other nomadic souls can merge, mingle and discuss their thrill-seeking passions. The site is highly interactive and provides lively forums and exciting video clips, as well as member profiles, blog posts, photos and relevant links. This online community is engaging and also provides an excellent venue to get sound advice on high-quality gear and products needed for expeditions.

2. Zabitatz.com

Zabitatz (pictured at top) is a fun and welcoming online forum that encourages passionate members to meet and share advice, insight and inspiration about everything home-related. It is a one-stop site that fosters participation between experts and novices to share ideas such as home decorating, gardening, household finances and more. The site describes itself the ultimate “collaborative” community where members enthusiastically help each other gain valuable insight into anything regarding the home environment. It’s an online version of leaning over the backyard fence to get neighborly advice. Members are encouraged to ask questions, post a replies and provide relevant links.

3. My Photo Finish Records

4. Design Democracy (this site recently moved elsewhere)

5. Wired’s Haiti Rewired

6. PublicVoice.tv

7. Brooklyn Art Project (pictured below)


You’ll notice that only one of these contains “ning” in the url.

6 well-designed nonprofit Ning networks



freeDIMENSIONAL (fD) is a nonprofit that advances social justice by hosting activists in art spaces and using cultural resources to strengthen their work. The organization provides services and safe havens for oppressed activists and culture workers, fosters knowledge-sharing among art spaces who actively participate in local community organizing, engages the art world and mainstream media to heighten public awareness and influences policy change on critical issues. fD works with the global arts community to identify and redistribute resources and support meaningful relationships between art spaces and activists. Taking a decentralized approach, fD recognizes the power of strategic partnerships and believes that creative expression fuels social justice movements. As such, fD works with the global arts community to identify and redistribute resources and supports meaningful relationships between art spaces and activists. The group works with local civil society groups, social movements of all scales, arts organizations, schools and independent media outlets to build meaningful grassroots programs. Continue reading

February 1, 2010

Ning, Davos and Haiti recovery projects

Sloane BerrentGina Bianchini is the co-founder and CEO of Ning.com, a platform that hosts more than a million social networks and connects people based on their passions and interests. She took a few minutes to tell me about her experience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, what she has learned that surprised her and how to stay connected to Davos long after the week is over.

The two campaigns she talks about are the Open Architecture Network, a program Cameron Sinclair, founder of Architecture for Humanity, was telling us about. I hope to catch Cameron to talk about his amazing work and especially the Haiti recovery projects he’s taken on. I encourage you to read his recent piece in The Huffington Post encouraging people to “steal his plan” to help recovery as quick as possible in Haiti.

The second project Gina talks about is the She 28 Campaign, a project that gives women in Rwanda the skills to start their own business making sanitary projects using banana leaves.

So yes, Gina, Cameron and I were talking about menstruation while squeezing in expressos between sessions. And that’s one of the best parts about Davos — that someone knows something about a topic or initiative that I’ve never heard of before and is more than willing to share that information with me so I can look it up later online.

Check out the She 28 Campaign video for yourself:

This post originally appeared on the MySpace Journal.

September 30, 2009

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom

8 ways screenshot

JD LasicaFor the annual conference of the Online News Association this weekend, I’ve pulled together two new printable handouts: 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom, available at http://bit.ly/social-flyer, and 6 Twitter tools for journalists (PDF — and see the accompanying post). I’m speaking on the aptly named Social Media Mania panel on Saturday.

I think these are two of the nicer handouts I’ve produced, using Apple Pages, part of the iWork suite. These downloadable documents are part of the ongoing series of social media guides and tutorials that Socialbrite has been producing for social change organizations, nonprofits, journalists and anyone interested in effective use of social media.

While the PDFs are spiffy-looking, they’re less than optimal for search engines and for the disabled, so I’ll mirror the handouts here in html.

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom


1An uber-aggregator of your feeds, FriendFeed is like Twitter but easier to organize. You can post more than 140 characters, organize private or public rooms and get a feed of your friends as an e-mail. But FriendFeed is more than an aggregation tool: It’s a virtual watering hole where you can see what’s on the mind of your friends and colleagues.

Search the real-time Web

2Find out what people are talking about online right now — chances are you can turn a meme into a story. Tools include Twitter Search, Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Scoopler.

Flip out!

flip3We’re all multimedia journalists now, right? Never let another eye-catching moment or newsworthy subject slip by: A Flip cam ($199 for hi-def version) lets you easily add a visual element to a story. Users are more likely to jump into a conversation around a video on your site than a text-only article. Kodak’s Zi8 is also a good choice. Continue reading