Understanding Ning

Hi There, I put together this little handbook of sorts for understanding the various aspects and features of the Ning Community and how they work.

Introduction to Forums With Ning 3.0, you can create multiple instances (copies) of the Forum feature. This means that you can create one Forum instance to which all of your members are able to contribute discussions, and that anyone (be they a member or a non-member) can read. You can also create a second Forum instance that only members can view, but only administrators can create discussions in. In this way, you have fine-grained control over who can contribute and view forum discussions on your network. You can create as many Forum instances as you want. To create a Forum instance, go to the administrative toolbar and click on the Social Site Manager icon. From this page, click on the “Site & Pages” link and then click on the “Add a Page” button. From the “Page Type” drop-down menu, select “Forum”.

When naming your forum in the “Title” field, the navigation tab title and the URL will by default auto-populate with this same name. If this name is edited at a later time, only that specific field will change.

To further organize your discussions within this forum instance, add categories. See “Manage Forum Categories” for more information.

Privacy of Your Forum Instance Set your forum’s status to “Published” to make this instance live and accessible to those you’ve specified. Or, if you only want this instance to be accessible to you and administrators you’ve appointed, save it as a “Draft”. This setting is also useful for if you are not ready to go public with it yet. Then once you are ready, change the status to “Published”. You have the ability to determine who can contribute to a Forum instance. Choose “Administrators”, “Featured Members” and “Members” from the “Who can contribute” drop-down menu. Viewing permissions are open to “Everyone (Public)”, “Members”, “Featured Members” and “Administrators”. For more information on how to have administrators on your network, see “Appoint Administrators”. For more information on featuring members on your network, see “Feature Content or Members on Your Network“.

Commenting Commenting options are flexible and determined per feature instance. Set whether to have newest or oldest comments appear first. If you want to use the native commenting system offered on the Ning platform, select “Standard”. Members on the network will be able to comment and see each others’ comments (depending on your viewing permissions). If you want to make this discussion more widely accessible, try using a social media service’s commenting system. You can choose between Facebook and Disqus commenting settings.

You can additionally choose to enable your members to add HTML to their comments or turn this off. This option will be turned on by default.

Customize Your Forum Instance If you’d like to spice up your Forum instance a bit further, incorporate some additional content items by using the “Add Content” button. On indoormusicfestivals.ning.com, we thought it’d be great to add Festival Photos to our Forum Instance all about Music Festivals. You can choose from four layout options for the Forum page. For layouts with two columns, you can even change the Sidebar Size. Select your size form the “Sidebar size” drop-down menu. Add text, JavaScript or HTML code to either the Below Header or Above Footer HTML boxes by clicking on the boxes and directly pasting your text or code in the space provided. This is a great space to place a custom ad or incorporate some additional instructions for members on using this Forum Instance.

Moderation of Your Forum Instance When determining who can contribute, you can also elect to require content approval before a discussion will appear on your network in this forum. This means that when someone (a member or featured member) creates a discussion, they will see a “Pending Approval” lightbox after posting their discussion, and you will see this discussion in the Content Moderation section of your network’s dashboard.

If you approve a discussion, it will immediately show up in the Forum instance. If you delete a discussion, you may want to notify a member that you have done so and why, so that they know what to do next time in order to get their discussion approved.

Forum Categories

Your Forum can be a living, breathing, nebulous social being filled with multi-directional conversations. Or a wasteland of shout-outs to no one in particular. Want it to be successful?

Get it organized. To establish an orderly Forum, you will first want to create Categories. Well-defined Categories will help your members find the information they seek and will minimize confusion. The trick is to not overwhelm visitors by the sheer magnitude of Categories, but to separate out a few different homes for discussion, as NYC-based pro makeup artist Lauren Cosenza has done with her Divalicious Blog. She has helped organize the conversations going on in her community by creating categories that she knows her followers and readers will be interested in: Hair, Makeup, Skin, Style, Nails, and WWLD (What would Lauren do). By organizing these conversations Lauren has allowed members to find the topics that are more relevant to them and help them to participate.

In order to add Categories to the Forum on your Ning Network click on the wrench icon to open your Administrative Toolbar. From here, select the Social Site Manager icon. After selecting the “Site & Pages” tab, go ahead and select a Forum type page or create a new Forum type page. Click on the “Site & Pages” button, then click on the “Social Site Builder” link to access your Social Site Builder. Within the social site builder you first have to make sure you have activated the Forums feature. You do this by adding a page, and choosing Forum as the page type.

Once you select a Forum type page, you can begin adding Categories. You will find the field to add the available Categories for discussion questions at the bottom of this section of the page. You should see a Category field that either prompts you to “Add New” categories or to “View or Edit: existing ones. Go ahead and enter/edit a Category and then hit enter. Once you hit enter the discussion Category will then appear in a grey self-contained box. Now, in order to make sure the Categories you have created will be available be sure to hit save.

Now in order to see the categories that you have created, head to the forum page create a new discussion. While you’re creating this new discussion, you’ll be able to choose a category from the drop-down menu of categories. Now click publish, and your question will be categorized accordingly.

Now when you go back to your Forum you will see the new Category you have created next to all discussions and featured discussions. Note that you may not see all of the Categories that you have created there, because you need to add a discussion to a Category for it to appear. Now your members can see the different Categories of discussions and find exactly what they want and what is relevant to them more easily.

Introduction to Videos

This feature is available for all Ning 3.0 packages. Now you can easily embed a video from another web source into your network. The Videos feature on your Ning Network allows you to upload videos and share them across the web. You can use the bulk media uploader to add up to 30 videos at a time to your profile page, or embed videos from popular video services like YouTube and Vimeo. The Videos page below displays featured content, along with member-generated videos complete with ratings and view counts.

It promotes your Network and encourages people to check it out and join. Your Ning Network’s video feature is a great and easy way to spread the word about your Ning Network. You can share it on Facebook or you can grab the embed code and paste it into your own website or blog. As the Network Creator, you have full control over which videos appear on the Main Page of your Ning Network and how they’re displayed. You can also choose to approve new videos before they’re published on your Ning Network.

Adding Videos The easiest way to add videos to your social network is to use the bulk media uploader which allows you to add up to 30 videos at a time. Ning platform supports .mov, .mpg, .mp4, .avi, .3gp, .3g2, .wmv video formats. To upload videos, go to the Videos tab and click “+” button. Then, just hit “Click to Add Videos” icon to select which videos you’d like to upload from your computer. If you want to select multiple videos at a time, just hold down “Ctrl” or “Command” key on your keyboard and click extra videos. Videos you’ve chosen to upload will display as a list on your Ning Network.

Adding Videos 1

Then click “Next” and start uploading. While files are being uploaded you can edit titles, descriptions, and other video information. To remove, use “X” button on the right side of each video uploader. Once it’s ready to publish, click the “Publish” button (or “Publish all” if you have more than one video selected). It will be though converted first before posted. You will be notified by email as soon as it is done.

Adding Videos 2

You can also add videos to your network from other services, such as YouTube, Hulu or Vimeo, using embed code. From the “Add Videos” page, scroll to the bottom of the page and locate the section that says “Add videos from YouTube, Hulu, or Vimeo” and click the box. Paste the embed code for the video into the box and click to “Next”.

Adding Videos 3

Creating a Social Channels Page

With Ning 3.0, you’ll now have the option to pull in aggregated content, similar to an RSS feed, to a dedicated page. By creating a Social Channel page, you’ll be able to add your favorite Vimeo and YouTube channels (up to 3 channels from each service) to your network.

To set up a Social Stream, head to the Social Site Builder section of your Dashboard and click the “Add a Page” link, either under the Main Navigation or Unlinked Pages headings. Depending which “Add a Page” link you click, your new page will be created under the corresponding heading.

Set the “Page Type” as “Social Channel.” After entering a page title, tab title, URL, and choosing your page visibility options, simply enter the username(s) of the Vimeo or YouTube channels you want to pull into this page and save your changes.

Once your page is published, it will be visible to everyone, members, featured members, or administrators, depending on your settings. Don’t worry if content from your Vimeo or Youtube channels doesn’t appear right away, as it can take up to 15 minutes for changes to your Social Channel to take effect. Your Social Channel page will display the most recent videos in the channels you add to the page. Up to 24 videos will display here. Customize your Social Channel Page One way to customize your Social Channel Page is by creating unique page layout. You can select from four layout options: one column, two column (with a left or right sidebar), or three columns. The two column layouts allow you to change the Sidebar size to easily increase its width. Add content to your Social Channel Instance using the “Add Content Button.” Ning 3.0 provides the flexibility to incorporate other features or HTML boxes to really make your Social Channel page stand out. Also, use the Below Header or Above Footer HTML Boxes for text, JavaScript or HTML code. To include the default code already running on other pages of your network, check the box next to “Use default below header HTML” or “Use default above footer HTML.” Leave these boxes unchecked if you’d like to apply specific code or text only to this page.

How Groups Work Groups are a great way to increase member engagement and enable members to find other members with similar interests. Groups are also a powerful solution for Network Creators with a business model or community concept based on multiple sub-groups of members. Each group operates almost as a full-featured network or supergroup. You can add multiple instances of features like Blogs, Forums or Photos to each group.

Members can create Groups around any number of topics, such as:

• Country • Region • Language • Album (photo album alternative?) • Interest • Book • Character • Actor • Music • Area of practice • Pet breed • Profession

And more! Groups can also be used for mentoring or support groups, to organize offline activities (e.g. a cycling group), private team collaboration, beta testing, focus groups, management of a community and for premium memberships (e.g. a fan club).

When it comes to creating Groups, you get to specify which members are able to add groups and view the Group Hub page whether it be all members, admins, featured members, or a specific member category. We’ve also given you granular controls to specify, whether Group Admins can customize their Group cover photo, features or layout, or message Group members. You can also override these default settings for a specific Group.

These are the Layout Controls available for your Groups:

Basic: Group Admins can add and remove Group content modules in Group pages, but can’t change layouts or modify non-group content modules. Any content added to the Group Hub page will also appear on each Group page.

Advanced: Group Admins can choose alternate layouts for Group pages and add and remove Group content modules. Content Added to the Group Hub will not appear on Group pages.

Complete: Group Admins can choose alternate layouts for Group pages, add and remove Group content modules and can update the Below Header and Above Footer HTML boxes on Group pages. Content Added to the Group Hub will not appear on Group pages.

Group Privacy

By default, non-members will see an About block. This will contain information about the Group (added by the Group Creator) along with a member count. Each Group creator can also choose the term they’d like to use for the Group’s members. For example, Fans, Members, Artists, Musician, Producers, Concertgoers, etc. The Group creator can also indicate whether the Group is open, invite only or closed.

• An Open Group is one that any network member can join • An Invite Only Group is one that only invited people can join • A closed Group is one that is not accepting new members

Group Editing and Management

The group creator or a Network Admin can update the group’s name, description, url, image and cover photo, and join options. They can also add and delete content pages like multiple instances of Photos, Forums, and Blogs and rearrange the group’s navigation menu. Each new group page you create will appear in the All Groups page navigation and you can arrange the order in which they appear by dragging the panels around.

Adding Members

There are several ways to add members to your groups.

Auto-add via Profile Questions: You can automatically assign members to groups when they sign up based on their response to a profile question. To enable this, head to your Member Management tab on your network’s green toolbar and then select the Profile Questions tab. From here, add a multiple choice question with answers based on your Group Categories. For example, you can have members choose between music genres and then select the radio button next to ‘Assign Members to a group based on their answer on sign-up’. Please note that members can only select one answer when you enable this option.

The Network Creator and Admins can also add members to a group using the Member Management facility. Just head to the ‘Members’ tab under the Members Management section and select the members that you’d like to move to a specific group. Then, from the ‘Select an Action’ drop-down menu, you’ll be able to choose which group to add those members to.

When you add members to a specific group they will receive an email notification letting them know they were added.


To invite people to your group, click on the “Group Options” button from the group’s detail page. Select “Manage Members” from the drop-down menu. This will take you to your network’s Member Management page. From here, you can send a message to your members and invite new people to join your group. Click on the “Invite People” link. An input field will display. Enter email addresses of desired invitees, or enter the names of friends on the network. Entering a friend’s name will cause an invitation to the group to be sent to the member who matches that name.

Latest Activity Feature

The Latest Activity feature is a stream of up-to-the-minute activity across a Ning Network. It shows off what’s happening on your Ning Network, from new photos that have been uploaded to new friendships that have been confirmed.

You can see what’s been added to the network, who’s been commenting on what and more. This feature is a great way to highlight what’s new and motivate members to participate and interact with your network quickly and easily.

If the network or Facebook “Like” button options are enabled on your network, you can also view how many people like an item.

The Latest Activity feature appears as a stream of activity items, and can be added to any page of your Ning Network. A Latest Activity feed will also display on every member’s profile page. The Activity feed here will be of activity specific to that member and his or her content. As a Network Creator, you can delete any activity from the Latest Activity stream on the page.

You can also choose where to display the Latest Activity feature on your Ning Network, how many activity items are displayed, which kinds of items appear in your Ning Network’s Latest Activity stream, and even add custom messages – such as facts or announcements about your Ning Network – to the Latest Activity stream. To do that, click on the Social Site Manager icon in the green administrative toolbar. Then click on the “Site & Pages” link. This will take you to your page editor. Select the page with the Activity Feed module and click on it. Make your changes here and save them when you’re done.

Depending on what you’ve decided to display in the Latest Activity feed, new activity on the network will update any time you return to the page. If you want to see new content without leaving the page, just hit your browser’s “Refresh” button. For additional settings proceed to the Activity Feed Settings tab in the Social Site Manager.

Here you can configure Status updates and add RSS feeds to your Activity stream.

Various Other Features to Explore inside Ning Help Site..

Feature What it’s all about Activity Feed The big, up-to-the minute stream of latest activity across your network. Add this feature to a Custom Page or display the Activity Feed on its very own page. Blog Blog posts are one way you and your members can express what’s on your mind. A soap-box staple of any social network. Custom Page A Custom Page is a great way to display multiple features on a single page. This is also the way to create your very own custom HTML page. NING E-COMMERCE PLATFORM Now you can monetize your NING network with E-commerce platform: setting up the Donation option, Paid Access to network and content. Events Events are a great way for members to connect, whether in person or virtually, at a designated time and place. File management A way for you to upload and organize files that are most important to your site. Forum The place for conversation. This is often the focal point of social networks. You can create as many forums as you like. Groups Use this to create communities within your network. Invitations You can invite people via email, or invite people from popular social networking sites. Messages Everything related to your members’ private inbox, as well as their public messaging capabilities. Music The Audio feature is a perfect way to customize your network. You can share music files, audio lessons and podcasts with your members. Photos Encourage your members to upload photos and images with this feature. Control who can contribute and who can view Polls Polls is the best way to get to know your customers better. RSS RSS feeds appear at the bottom of content listing pages on your network. Site & Pages Set up the pages and permissions of your network in the Site & Pages manager. Social Sign-In Let your members sign up and sign in with services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live. SEO tools We offer the whole set of tools: Sitemap, Robots.txt, integration with Google Webmaster and Google Analytics, unique page description as a great way to boost your Google ranking. MRS Member Ranking System allows your to motivate your network members to be more active online. Members can get points for their activity and time spent on the network and, therefore, get achievent badge. Landing page Use brand-new builder to create your unique landing page GDPR compliance An updated Legal Documentation tab now contains a Custom GDPR Agreement form, pre-set Cookie banner and option to put a disclaimer along with a contact information on your sign-in/sign-up page.

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