We are very excited to invite each of you to participate in the Groups 3.0 Beta. We’ve redesigned the Groups feature for Ning 3.0 to include just about everything you’ve requested over the last few years, and are ready to share with you this labor of love. Since you guys are the inspiration behind the updated feature, we're especially interested to hear what you think. If you have some time over the next few weeks, please take this new feature for a test drive -- and bring your best community advocates along for the ride!
Who: Any Network Creator with a Ning 3.0 Network. If you haven’t experimented with a Ning 3.0 Network yet and are currently managing a 2.0 Network, you can sign up for a free Ning 3.0 Sandbox subscription by joining The Sandbox group and following the instructions outlined there. And if you're not already a member, you’ll also need to join Creators.ning.com.
How: Join the Ning 3.0 Groups Beta Testers and follow the instructions to turn Groups 3.0 on for your Ning 3.0 Network. Take a test drive and post your feedback!
For those of you who’ve never used Groups on Ning, this feature gives your members the ability to self-organize around sub-topics. Groups are a great way to increase member engagement in larger networks. Members can find other members with similar interests and, as a result, are less likely to be overwhelmed by the large number of members and volume of content. I’ve seen members create Groups based on a country, region, city, language, album, book, character, actor, sub-genre of music, area of practice, pet breed, profession, and more.
Groups are also a powerful solution for Network Creators with a business model or community concept based on multiple sub-groups of members. For example, teachers use Groups for online classes, to supplement offline classes, and as a way to help alumni continue to exchange ideas after a class has ended. Groups are frequently used for mentoring or support groups, for organizing offline activities (e.g., a cycling group), private team collaboration, beta testing, focus groups, management of a community, and for premium memberships (e.g., a fan club with access to premium content). Groups also provide an opportunity to sell sponsorships and monetize your community. And, they can do so much more! We’re very interested to learn the many ways your community will be using the Groups 3.0 feature on your network.
So what’s new in the initial beta release?
- Supergroups: Each Group can now operate nearly as its own full-featured network. Group admins can add multiple instances of Blogs, Forums, or Photos to each Group.
- Customization: You can add a Group cover photo, customize menu items (navigation), specify what Group members are called (e.g., members of the cyclists group can be called cyclists), and modify the Group URL. You can also add custom pages with multiple layout options.
- Automation: You can now put members into Groups automatically based on profile questions! You can also manually add members through the member management page in your dashboard.
- Enhanced Control: By popular request, we eliminated the concept of Group ownership – there are now only Group Administrators (no succession planning needed). You (The Network Creator or Administrator) specifies who can create Groups and who can view the Group hub page. We’ve also given you granular controls to specify, in general, whether Group Admins can customize their Group cover photo, features or layout, or message Group members. And it is also possible to override the default setting for a specific Group.
- Sponsorship: You now have the option to add header and footer HTML boxes to each Group. Control the ad code yourself or give Group admins the ability to run their own advertising.
Wait, there’s more!
We are working on completing Group invitations and plan to release this functionality in 2-3 weeks. We also plan to release one other long-requested new feature soon after Groups 3.0 comes out of beta: the ability to move content! NCs will be able to move content such as a forum topic from a Group to the network, from the network to Groups, or between Groups.
I hope you are as excited about Groups 3.0 as we are! We look forward to getting valuable feedback from you, and are very interested to see how each of you takes advantage of the new capabilities.