I wonder if anyone here has come up with an effective way to get people to join a completely new network. Nobody wants to join a network that has only a handful of members - but every network has to have 5 members before it can have 500 or 5,000. I have found getting the first hundred or so members to be very difficult. Is there any quick way to populate a new network?
Also, can anyone suggest any strategies to get members to interact with each other, especially on a new network which still only has a couple of hundred members?

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Hi Luanne,
Me too - for some reason Twitter seems to have passed me by completely. I think the name itself put me off using it (a twit is an idiot where I come from). Apparently though - from what people here have been telling me - it's one of the main ways of promoting a network. Now everybody seems to be twittering (I really hate that term) and I feel left behind. I think I'm gonna have to devote a whole day to learning about Twitter.
Hi, Kate--

You and me both. The funny thing is I put up a link to an empty Twitter account and had over 700 people follow it within the first few days. Now I have over 4,200 followers and the only thing I ever publish is... the RSS feed from our main site! I have NO idea what to do with it, because I simply don't get the entire concept. I think I'm too old or too concerned about monetizing things lately or something, but I personally am too busy to care what everyone I know (and don't) are doing right this minute... :-P
I populated my social network from one (1) member to over a 1,000 members in under 1 week by doing the following;

1. I made the network exclusive / private for that week.

2. I wrote individual emails to ~50 potential new members and asked them to see past the emptyness and to help me build a critical mass by adding content and avatars etc.

3. Then, I used my social network as a 'recruitment tool' and asked people responding and looking for work to sign in to the social network as a device/form for applying (via a well thought out set of entry/application questions) and advertised this on every city available on Craigslist worldwide (hundreds of ads) - I slightly modified each ad to avoid being banned by CL's bots. This was my flash of genius :) - I was surprised to see that my social network became the 8th most active social network on Ning in just two days after posting those (tedious) ads.

This worked well for me and within a few months I had built my network into a production company and sold it in a well publicized acquisition - globeshooter.com.

Well, that was certainly a clever idea, but - didn't it bother you that it was unethical and (probably) illegal?
If somebody conned me into submitting my personal details by convincing me that I was applying for a job I'd be seriously - what's the word you use over there - p****d?
It wasn't unethical because I genuinely hired many of these members to shoot local business videos and I delivered on my ad. I was also very clear about what these folks were signing up for. i.e. a social network that will be used to create a targeted pool of talent which I will hire from that they could also use for the same purpose. So everyone had a vested interest in this working. I think if I had not hired folks it would have been seen as more unethical but still was value to other members. This method isn't for everyone but it is way that works if you do it right.
I wish I knew.
Viral marketing where friends etc get theit contacts to get their contacts etc seems the way to go, but you have to have a good theme that is or becomes popular and even flows onto other networks like twitter and probably needs a web site for a full explanation of the network.

However I want a better world to eliminate war, hunger and disease etc I don't seem to have what it takes.

I hope you succeed.
Fans of who or what
Well, I'm happy for you if you got that to work. I tried this and it completely backfired. I got almost 300 people to join my Facebook group, but I can't get them to visit or join my Ning site. I've tried everything. They're happy to stay on fb.
I have tried to figure out the Facebook addiction myself. My site is about my city, Chicago. Social awareness, Community events, helping promote local talent and business. One thing I cant understand is that I also have a Chicago group on Facebook, but cant get them to join on my Ning site. I thought by creating a group on facebook, would redirect some people to join my Ning site. I was sadly mistaken! I really dont understand the addiction to facebook, I think Ning sites give you more of a at home feel. Instead of alot of clutter.
Hi Ninette,
You say people can just click on Facebook and then do nothing, whereas on Ning networks they have to interact, but this isn't really the case. Both Ning and FB require members to login (in fact Ning networks are even more accessible than FB, since it is possible to see what's going on without actually logging in). And Ning network users are no more obligated to interact than FB users are.
The real reason, I believe, that people are more inclined to use FB is simply that it's a BIG network with millions of members. People trust big networks, just as they trust big supermarket chains, big restaurant franchises, big banking and insurance groups etc. People feel both safer and more anonymous using FB than they do using Ning networks. If you think about it, most people find it far more daunting to walk into a room containing 50 or 100 people than they do walking into a huge convention hall filled with thousands of people. That's why it is so hard to launch Ning networks and get that first 100-200 people to join (and why it is not helpful to allow people to see how many members a new network has).
People, just like wilderbeest, will always join the biggest herd. This is instinctive, I think.

The other important difference between Ning networks and FB is that FB does actually allow and encourage interaction, whereas Ning DOES NOT. Ning allows participation, which is a different (and much more problematic) thing altogether. On FB, members can say whatever is in their head at any given moment ("It's stopped raining!" "I'm thinking of making roast chicken for dinner" etc.) Notice, also, that people say "on" Facebook, but "in" a Ning group. With Ning discussion forums - or any discussion forums - people have to actually have something to say. Then they have to sit down and work out the best way to say it.

This is why the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE Ning lacks - as I know keep saying - is the option for members to post spontaneous, off-the-cuff messages (status updates, but without the pink surround which makes them look too self-important) with the option for other members to reply.
This, IMO, should be the Ning team's number one priority. It is way more important than any of the developments they've rolled out in recent months, welcome as they are. The ability to post and RESPOND to TRIVIAL messages is the whole ball game.
Functionality is no substitute for basic human psychology.
I definitely got my ears open on this one. Yes it is very true getting the first 100 members is a huge task. Great topic.
Ninette you are 100% right there

There are so many places that people can 'social network' on the internet - its almost madness!!

And people lead lives off the internet with real freinds in good old fashioned 3D!

I think the most successful sites are one's where people step outisde the Internet and connect in 'real life' (but obvious dangers there)

On another discussion a guy talked about his Aids network which I found really inspirational. he had setup because Aids where he lived was taboo subject and had 3000 members who met up regularly

Did you see that? Sadly can't find the link

take care

Andrew - this time


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