Ning is a platform that allows anyone to create a custom social network in a few minutes time.  I’ve played with it a few times since it launched in late 2005, but never really did a deep drill until recently, when we started work on a project that used Ning as its social networking component.  I’ve been impressed.

Backing up, our philosophy at The Bivings Group is to do as little “from scratch” building as possible.  If a good tool exists already, we’d much rather spend our time customizing or extending it than trying to build our own bigger, badder battleship.  It is this philosophy that has lead us to embrace Drupal, WordPress and open source development in general. 

What makes Ning interesting to me is that it is an actual platform, as opposed to just a cool site to use if you want to put up a quick social network.  You can customize it, extend it and, most importantly, build your own stuff on top of it.  This allows developers to create all sorts of value-added features for the communities they serve.  Check out Ning’s Developer and Network Creator communities to learn more. 

For those interested, following is a brief list of some of the more interesting of the 500,000 networks built on Ning. 

Ning isn’t perfect and we’ve certainly struggled to do some of the things we’ve wanted to do.  But it is the best product of its kind that I’ve seen, and I’d encourage anyone interested in social networking platforms to give it a good look.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.