Forget MySpace: How to Create Your Own Social Network on Ning for Free
Tired of the restrictive and predatory atmosphere of social networking sites like MySpace? Now you can create your own social network for friends, family or peers, with Ning.
Ning is a free, advertising-based service that lets anyone create their own social networking site. The site comes complete with modules for members, forums, blogs, photos, videos, RSS feeds, or any other fun or useful widgets you want to include.
Anyone can do this. No programming knowledge or HTML experience is required, although it does take time to add extra content.
Ning makes it easy to “design” an interface, and rearrange it using “drag and drop” technology.
How to Create Your Own Free Social Network
- Sign up:
Before you can actually create your own free social network, you need to sign up at Ning (www.ning.com).
- Name it:
Then you need to decide on a name for your social network.
INSIDER TIP: since you cannot change the URL once you have created it, without deleting the account and starting over.
Type in the name and the desired URL (minimum of 6 characters).
- Fill Out Basic Social Network Details
Next, social network creators need to fill out some basic information about their site.
- Come up with a catchy tagline that will appear on the front page of the site.
- Write a description of the site that is 250 characters or less.
INSIDER TIP: Ning does not warn about the length of the description, unless you go over 250 and then editing is needed.
- Type in keywords that are related to the site.
- Upload an Icon image to give your site a face.
- Click “Next.”
- Select Features
The next step is select the features on the social network. All layouts have two columns that you can modify, with the third column reserved for information about you, and ads placed by Ning. Already placed in the design are the site description and a members box, on the left-hand column.
Features that can be included on the social network site: Blog, Forum, Photos, RSS, Text Box and Videos. To add these features, click on one and drag it to the page.
- Click on the feature to add
- Drag it to the left narrow column or the middle column.
- Drop when you see a narrow black line, that is where the feature will be placed.
It is possible to add more than one of each element. The site does not need more than one blog or forum box, but you may want to add multiple RSS, Text, or Video features.
Once there is a reasonable sembalnce of the page’s overall elements that need to be included, click “Next.”
INSIDER TIP: You can always come back and add or remove features.
Appearance is where the template is selected. Most people can just go ahead and use the basic options. Advanced users can add their own CSS.
How to select the template for the social network:
- Select a template. Many of the templates are the same basic design, which is a drawback for users who won’t be using the Advanced feature. The template selected will appear as a thumbnail of the full page, making it easier to modify the colors in the following steps.
The following modifications are optional, but they allow the social network creator to further personalize the site.
- Header and Navigation
1) Change the color of the Network Name by clicking on the tiny palette which will open into a bigger palette. Pick a color from the swatches. The thumbnail of the template will be updated immediately. Go back and change the color, if you would like a different one, or move on to the next step.
2)Add a Logo. This is an optional feature that will replace the existing Network Name with a logo. Upload an image from your computer if you want to use it as a logo.
3) Change the background color using the palette the same way the Network Name color was selected.
4) Change the background picture, if one exists in the template, by uploading one from your computer.
5) Select a color for Tab, the Top Bar and a color for the Footer.
7) Change the Text – Select colors and fonts for the Heading and for the Body. It is likely to find yourself jumping around on this page, modifying colors in a different order, until it all matches.
8) When finished click “Next.”
6. Privacy amp; Members
1. Determine if the site should be public or private.
INSIDER TIP: Choose carefully, since this cannot be changed. If you choose private only invited people can join. A public social network will be open to anyone.
Also, this does not affect what non-members can access, that comes later.
2. Invite people to the network, whether it is private or public. Include information about the network in your invitation.
INSIDER TIP: If you’re not ready to invite anyone, you can always do this later. After all, the social network has no real content yet, it’s only a shell.
- Non-Members – This is where you decide on how much privacy to give members. Decide if you want non-members to 1)view everything 2)view just the main page, or 3) view just the sign up page.
INSIDER TIP: More people will be likely to sign up if you allow them to see at least some of the site before joining.
- Photo and Video Moderation – When you want complete control over the photos and videos members post, choose the option to moderate. INSIDER TIP: Moderating the photos and video will create more work, and members will have to wait until you approve their multimedia before it posts to the community. It is possible to change this choice later.
- Select “Next” when done.
- Profile Questions – One of the great features of Ning is that the creator can determine the type of information that members have to include and the information they can include.
Use the questions provided, or change them to your own questions. For each question, determine the following:
- Is the answer to the question required (check the required box).
- What type of answer is acceptable? Choose from a one-line answer, a longer answer, a website address, a date, or a multiple choice question.
- Add questions that are missing
- Select “Next” when done.
- Summary Page
Review your site, and then Launch it. Aside from these steps, you can also go extra mile through getfans. This will help you have a lot of subscribers or fans in your social networking site. As a result, you can easily build your network.