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Ning: the future of niche social networks

April 29, 2009

Last week, I presented my social media wares to some MBA’s. After my dog and pony show, someone asked me to opine on the future of social networks.

My response: Barry Manilow. Barry Manilow built a social network for his fans using Ning. That means fans of Barry Manilow can now congregate in one place to talk about the thing they love. Mr. Manilow is a brand. So he’s gathering all his fans into one place to let them talk about how great he is.

And while Manilow’s ning site still has still has ning in the url, that’s not critical. For evidence, take a look at HoffSpace, the official Ning social network for fans of David Hasselhoff.

I think brands should consider options like Ning. While it’s really popular to build a room inside of Facebook‘s expansive house (and that building there gives a brand access to 200 million people), I think brands should consider building a house with Ning.

This is the micro part of the internet, and it’s the trend. People are cutting their Facebook friends to only the inner circle. People are using Twitter apps to create groups that make it easy to follow only certain people.

Niche is the future. The mass sites will fight it, offering more groups, more localzed content, but we’re moving that way because social networks work best at connecting like-minded people to each other.

And Ning, which may even be short for Niching, is an excellent tool to get you there.

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