Update 4/19/2012 - Just noticed this discussion got featured will update soon with a video. I will also post a new discussion showing you even better dashboard than is available in your Network's Management Area .
The image to my left is undoubtedly one you are probably familiar with if you are a Network Creator. It is the Best of the Week Ning Creators Newsletter we get highlighting new updates from Ning, valuable contributions from Network Creators, and news on the web related to Social Networks. This template has a really nice format but even more important than that is that it is one that is guaranteed to work given the html it uses - something that can't be said if we tried to poke around with our own HTML and CSS as Jen from Jensocial.com will tell you. This is why I created a template because it work every time.
Creating your own version
Perhaps you would like to send something like this out to your network and use format like this. Also perhaps you would avoid having to deal with all the html and css to reproduce this. (Yeah, I sound like a guy on an infomercial). Well, now you can! I created a template that allows you to duplicate this without any coding. It doesn't make sense to type or deal with html when the structure of the html is going to be the same week in and week out. Update 4/19/2012 - The process for creating one has been updated. Now all you have to do is fill out a web form and at the end you will taken to a page with the HTML code ready for you to copy and paste. I will be adding a video soon showing how this is done.
Opportunity to share ads, videos, or even sell products and services
What I like particularly about this template is that the box on the side showing top videos can be used as ad boxes. Imagine sending this out once a week. You may reach more people in a week than those who actually visit your site in a month. Also It should not be that difficult to add "buy now" or "donate" buttons underneath as a call to action for your members.
It was just about a week ago it dawned on me that one way to look at your Ning Network is as nothing other than a glorified email list. As soon as people sign up you are a broadcast message away from having a very powerful targeted list of viewers, users, and/or customers. Now, think about it. What do we send them usually? A broadcast message that is most likely just text and links and maybe even an image header for the Newsletter from a tip we got from Jen on Creators. However, it's just plain & simple and not making the best use and opportunity of a broadcast message. Just look at this discussion at the difference a weekly template format written by you can make.
As simple as fill in the blanks, copy and paste, and send
I took some time to create a template you can just add text, link and image urls to recreate this for your network. No need to worry about html, font, css, tags, etc. It is literally "fill out a form".. When you are done you can simply copy & paste the code into your broadcast message (html section) and you will have the same format but just with your text, hyperlinks and images.
Here are a couple of responses I have gotten already
- OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! THAT TURNED OUT BEAUTIFULLY!!! (Yes, I'm screaming! LOL) Awesome tip, Garfield. I loved it and the best thing was that it was EASY! I'm no technical genius but you made it so simple to use. I'm putting you in my will. THANKS!
- Thanks a lot. As a "search, point, click, copy, and paste" capable site owner, this will help improve the quality of my broadcast messages to my Alumni Association.
- Thank you for sharing the template! It is an easy way to create the email for people not familar with HTML coding etc. Will be very useful for me. Many thanks, and looking forward to learning more tricks from you.
- Thanks a lot Garfield, this is very cool.
- Thanks Garfield - I'll have fun playing with this!
If Ning made this automatic, taking our leader boards and sent them out as an HTML weekly newsletter "what you might have missed out on", imagine how all their Ning networks would make quantum jumps in activity.
Can we get this on the road map Ning? 2 years down the line is better than never! Just please add these kinds of ideas where it's just logical that it would make traffic explode for all of us.
Garfield, what an amazing piece of work! Very impressive!
I hope I don't have to un-friend and then be-friend you all over to get in on this sweet deal? :)))
Thanks for the compliment. I never learned how to program but I did work at a company that made heavy use of database imports using files created in excel and a learned a few formulas and tricks to make excel do what I want and give me the feeling of being a programmer. There is no script just a few of the many Excel forumulas and functions applied to Google docs.
I have been using Google docs extensively to manage certain aspects of my network and this is just one of the simpler uses of it I created when I saw that discussion Anna wrote about liking the format of the Best of the week.