Ning (http://www.ning.com/) is a platform in which people and businesses can create their own social network. It allows for custom design and adding of photos, movies, members and other important information that help a social network to thrive. Creating a Ning community can be especially helpful for those companies or people who cannot find groups that are relevant to their business on Facebook, MySpace or other popular social networks. They can recruit friends, customers and others that are interested in a topic.
Building a Ning community can be incredibly rewarding and have some SEO benefit for the main site, if created in the right way. To do this, you need to have a topic or topics that can be taken and written about outside of ning. By this I mean that your users will have to find the information within your community so interesting that they take it to their personal blogs and write about your ning forum and ultimately your site. Links coming from your ning forum pointing to your site will only go so far. Just the first few links from your ning forum pointing to your site will count, so if the idea behind ning is a quick link building campaign, it will not work that way.
Ning can be used to publish content that might not fit on your website. To that extent you will need to have lots of different ideas and subjects relating to this to keep your community interested. Also, you will need to monitor it everyday, because sites like ning have the tendency to attract spammers. Since the links are not “no follow”, you can get people there only to send links to their site but who are not really interested in your forum.
If you create a ning community, you may also want to create a blog on your website where you can feature guest posts of those that you communicate with on ning. Many people that use ning have their own personal blogs and may have something to say that you would want to feature right on your blog. The blog is also another place for link building and publishing new and interesting content.
Like other networks and social media channels, ning allows you to customize the look and feel of the page to reflect your own website. It is beneficial to do so, as it shows that your forum is associated with the main site.
Creating a community on ning about your business can be tremendously rewarding and beneficial to your website in more ways than just SEO. It is something that will take hard work and constant moderation to ensure that the community is growing and that all comments and postings from members are appropriate and within the scope of what you are trying to achieve. Make sure you set the guidelines of the forum up front, so it is easy to spot fraudulent posts, comments, pictures and other items you don’t want on your community. Your community should be for your users and should be a place for you and your users to pass information about the topics that you provide.