Current status of the Ning Platform is always available on the Ning Status Blog.

Ning 2 Archive (49)

10,000 Creators Mark Reached

We reached our 10,000th member! We’ll be announcing the winners (there’s two!), but it looks like that might be early next week. We’ve contacted them and are awaiting their responses. Thanks to everyone who entered — which is everyone. We’ll definitely be doing more contests in the future. We’d like to also spotlight contests NCs have run in the past that were successful. Everyone can benefit from that kind of shared knowledge.

April Fools!

Jen, one of our superstar Creators members, totally tricked us with an April Fool’s joke. Most April Fool’s jokes don’t work on us, but this one did. Apparently, it worked on a lot of people. Nice one, Jen!

DIY: The “Hero” Box

Lots of Creators have been asking about the new carousel of rotating images at the top of the Creators Main Page. Here’s a tutorial that shows how to make something similar.


Made by Awesome Creators

JP: 5 Free Matching Ning Backgrounds and Ning Headers

Joseph Porcelli: How to Export Your Members to a CSV File

Jen: Add Google Ads in Header

Peter Moorman: Top 5 Reasons Ning Members Leave and How You Can Get Them to Stay


Across the Internet

Developing Online Community Guidelines: This is some great advice for anyone who ever plans on revising their Ning Network guidelines. It includes a comprehensive list of all the things you *could* restrict — but with reasons why you shouldn’t.

Ever wanted to go beyond the virtual and actually meet the people in your Ning Network? Here’s 8 Ways To Merge Your Online Community With The Real World

The One Thing About Building a Community asks the question: If I had to start over from scratch and build a new online community, what would I do different? Good quote: “Community is not something that happens when you need it, it's something that you build over time that is suddenly there for you, when you need it.”

From the shouting-fire-in-a-crowded-theater department: Does Free Speech Apply to Communities? Favorite quote: “Those accusing you of censorship are a bit like those friends of friends who appear in your house, smoke in the kitchen, turn the music up a little bit too loud and suggest you should chill out when you challenge them.”

Community Resource: We discovered some new online resources; especially good for larger Ning Networks.

Can you answer this question: “People will participate in my community because…” If not, read on: Why Will People Participate In Your Online Community

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Fellow NCs,

Once a month we do an export of our members and import them into our CRM database. We do this for two reasons:
  1. So we have a back up our members locally.
  2. We run queries against donations made by email and name (we are a non-profit), and based on profile questions answer, invite members to groups and events that might be of interest.
Here's is how to export your members:
  1. Log into your network as either the Network Creator or a user with Administrator rights.
  2. Go the Manage tab and under "Manage your members" section click on Members button.
  3. On the bottom right hand side of the members page click on Export All Member Data (.CSV)
Depending on the size of your membership you either be prompted to..
  • "Click OK to start the export. If you have a lot of members, the process might take a few minutes.",
Or, if you have lots of members you'll get a message that says..
  • "Click OK to start the export. We'll send you an email with instructions for downloading the data as soon as it's ready."
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Joseph
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Welcome to the fourth in a series of Ning Creators blog posts focusing on simple design tricks you can use on your network.

Trick #4: Adding a Two-Column Hero Box

The following code, used on the homepage of Ning Creators, will insert a "hero" module that spans two columns at the top of your network's Main page content area. This area could be used to insert an image, a custom Flash/JavaScript piece or just a simple text introduction.

Here's an example:

To get started, visit the "Appearance" area inside the "Manage" tab, then paste the following CSS snippet inside the "Advanced" section (underneath any other code that may already be there):

.space {height:270px;} /*Height of the Hero Area */
.module_text .xg_module_body {overflow:visible;}
#spotlight {margin-left:-245px;width:741px;}
#spotlight img, #spotlight embed, #spotlight object {padding:0; margin:0; max-width:741px;}

Next, visit the "Analytics" area inside the "Manage" tab, then paste in the following snippet (underneath any other code that may already be there):

<script type="text/javascript">
if (typeof(x$) != 'undefined') {
x$("#xg_layout_column_2").attr({_maxembedwidth: "741"});
}
</script>

On the "Features" area inside the "Manage" tab, add one new Text Box at the top of the left column, then a second Text Box at the top of the center column. Save your changes.
Here's an example:

Back on the Main page, click the "Edit" button on the new Text Box in the left column, then insert the following snippet:
<div class="space"></div>
Now click the "Edit" button on the new Text Box in the center column, and insert this snippet:

<div id="spotlight" class="space">ADD HERO CONTENT HERE</div>
Replace the "ADD HERO CONTENT HERE" text with your custom content (whether it's an image, embed code, HTML, etc.), then save your changes.

Enjoy!
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As we announced last month, Ning.com Network Search is making a comeback!

We have been working hard to make it easier than ever to find Ning Networks for your interests and passions. So we’re happy to announce that in the next few days, search will be back on Ning.com! We’ve heard a lot of feedback about how important this feature is from Network Creators as well as from members looking for Ning Networks.

For your Ning Network to appear in Ning.com’s Network Search, it must:

  • Be public. Prospective members won't know too much about or be able to join your Ning Network if
    it's private, and we want to protect the privacy of private Ning Networks and their members.
  • Be active. If your Ning Network has thousands of members but hasn't had new content in months,
    it's not likely to be ranked highly in searches.
  • Be launched and accessible. We don't want to showcase Ning Networks that aren't yet ready for prime time!
  • Not contain content that violates our Terms of Service.

For information on how to optimize your Ning Network for search, or if you have any search-related concerns about your Ning Network, please contact us through the Help Center.

Thanks,

Brent

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Just as we did a few weeks back when we announced our Facebook App, we wanted to offer you some boilerplate to use for your Ning Network around the idea of content flagging. If you have decided to appoint Content Flaggers on your Ning Network, you may want to let them know with a simple message. We've put together some boilerplate copy that we hope will help, along with some copy to use after people reply to your message.

Of course, all of this — including Content Flagging — is entirely optional, but our hope is that this might help Creators be more efficient, while still being high-touch with their most valued members. Hope it helps!


Invitation to content flagger

Subject: We’d like you to be a content flagger

We recently added the ability for select members to flag content that seems inappropriate — stuff that seems spammy. Since you seem to be one of our most helpful members, we wanted to reach out and ask you to be a content flagger for the community.

We’ve asked some of our best members to take on this role, and the way it works is pretty straightforward. If you see spam or content that is clearly inappropriate and violates our guidelines, feel free to flag it. Once flagged, the content will be hidden from view unless it is unflagged. This will help us fight spam by spreading the ability to help keep the community clean to our most trusted members.

Of course, there’s no pressure for you to flag anything or do anything different, but we hope you’ll want to join us in keeping an eye out for the rest of the community so we can continue to make this a great place to interact. Our admins already do a great job of monitoring the site, but adding flaggers helps them be even more efficient.

Thank you note

I’m thrilled that you want to help watch over the community. If you ever see a blog post or photo or video that seems spammy, you can click on the Flag icon to hide it. If you’re ever unsure about whether something is inappropriate or not, you can simply err on the side of leaving it up. Our admins will be on the lookout, too. Thanks again for being such a helpful member!


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We're Back from SXSW! One of our SXSW contest winners, Darcy of Swap Mamas, acted as our reporter in the field this week. She wrote not one, not two, but three (!) blog posts to highlight what she saw at SXSW. Nicely done, Darcy! (Never been to SXSW but curious what it’s all about? The SXSW Experience! captures the spirit of SXSW in stunningly beautiful time-lapse video.)


We Have a New CEO: Get to know our new CEO and let Gina know how much we appreciate her hard work by signing a virtual group card.

Our 10,000 Strong Contest Rolls On: We crossed the 9,000 member mark this week, and we’re headed toward 10,000. We’re giving the lucky 10,000th member a Ning Timbuk2 bag and 10,000 Gift credits. If they mention you or your Ning Network, we’ll give you the same. More here.



Popular This Week on Creators

New Spam Update Page for Creators

How to Customize Your Sign-up Page on a Public Network


Across the Internet


How to Build A Massive Online Community has an excellent interview with someone who built a very large (48K+ people) and very successful online community from scratch. My favorite quote, when asked about member growth milestones: “The most exciting member was number two.”

A good post from the consistently interesting FeverBee: Making Things Happen In Your Community. Best quote: “Stop trying to get your community to do things they don’t want to do.”

With so many new tools at their disposal, what did the attendees of SXSW use to communicate with each other? The Social Technologies Powering SXSW 2010 points them out. A lot of them are, not surprisingly, location-aware online tools.

Ning gets a shout-out as an inexpensive tool to use when considering how to represent a business online in Make it Simple, Focused, High-Performance, and Polished: My Web Philosophy. It also theorizes that there are three kinds of people on the Web. (We’re a #3. We’re guessing you are, too.)

If Your Online Community Is in Trouble Turn to Grass for the Answer. No, it’s not about drugs, it’s an extended metaphor about gardening and people in online spaces.



"Best of the Week" is a digest for Creators of discussions, blog posts, and interesting things found along the way in the past week — on Ning and across the Internet.

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Hi everyone,
Over the last 18 months, I’ve met many of you in person or online. For those I haven’t had a chance to meet, let me introduce myself — I'm Jason Rosenthal, and I'm honored and very excited to take on the role of CEO at Ning. When looking at the 2.3 million Ning Networks that have been created to date, I’m amazed at what you've all accomplished and inspired by your creativity. As CEO, you can expect to see us continue to rapidly innovate the Ning Platform, strive to provide you with the support you need when you need it, and to keep listening to and learning from all of you.
I'd also like to take a moment to thank Gina for building Ning and infusing our employees and you, our Network Creators, with her passion and enthusiasm. Gina built an amazing team at Ning, and I am lucky to be working with some of the most talented people I've met in my career. I share Gina's vision for Ning as the place for people's interests and passions, and plan to continue to build on what she — and our team here — have already achieved.
Thank you for making Ning what it is today, and I look forward to many more conversations with you in the future.
Jason
PS: You can always get in touch with me here on Creators with feedback, ideas and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Many Network Creators continue to report high levels of spam on their Ning Networks.

What are we doing about it?

First of all, I want you to know how seriously we consider this issue. Spam isn’t just an annoyance for Network Creators and their members. Spam gets in the way of member participation and interaction, which is the lifeblood of a successful, vibrant Ning Network like yours. We have a dedicated engineering team that is focused on spam prevention led by Martin Westhead.

Unfortunately, the current spam attack promoting “Canadian Pharmacy” is a sophisticated attack attributed to a Russian cyber-criminal organization. As with other sophisticated spammers, this organization employs dozens or even hundreds of people to create accounts, resolve CAPTCHAs and verify email addresses, then passes the accounts to a large botnet to post spam from thousands of computers, each with a different IP address.

Due to the sophisticated nature of the attack, there aren’t any quick fixes. We have already implemented several steps to block spam and plan to deploy a number of other features in the next few weeks. These measures are already blocking and disabling thousands of spam accounts each day. Here’s an update:

  • Yesterday, we significantly tightened our rules for new blog posts, which has been the primary type of spam for the “Canadian Pharmacy” attack. These rules identify and remove spam accounts automatically. You may have noticed a decrease in spam based on this action.
  • Next week, we will test and begin implementing temporary blocks on members that look suspicious based on their recent activity.
  • Within the next two weeks, we'll roll out a new feature for NCs — you'll be able to give specific members of your Ning Network the ability to easily flag and hide spam on your Ning Network.


How can you help?

We are using the data from the “suspend for spam” feature to automatically disable thousands of accounts across the Ning Platform each day. Please continue to use this feature when you suspend spammers.

We recommend that you turn on blog approval on your Ning Network. This will help you block new spam posts. While it's not optimal for some larger Ning Networks, we also recommend that you consider turning on member moderation.

As we implement increasingly stringent anti-spam measure, we are working hard to minimize the number of legitimate members that are incorrectly blocked or disabled. We apologize if this happens to any of your members. Please have them write in to our Help Center and we will re-enable their account as quickly as possible.

John McDonald
Vice President, Advocacy

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We're turning 10,000!

Since Creators was relaunched — just four months ago — we’ve seen an outstanding up-tick in membership. Our growth is really a testament to you, the members of Creators. You make this place a welcoming one. Thank you!

To celebrate our 10,000th member of Creators, we’re running a very simple contest. It starts right now. If you’re a member of Creators, you’re already entered. How’s that for a low barrier to entry?

What’s the prize?

A black Ning Timbuk2 Messenger bag.

10,000 Ning Gift credits.

The bag looks a lot like this one, but with a beautiful Ning logo on it:

Who can win?

The 10,000th person who joins the Creators Ning Network automatically wins.

You can win, too! If the winner is recommended by you, we’ll give you a messenger bag and 10,000 Gift credits, too. Know someone who's not yet a member of Creators? Have them mention you or your Ning Network when they sign up. If they win, you win, too.

When does it end?

When we hit 10,000 members, of course! You can follow the counter on the Members page if you like:

We’ll also be tweeting about it (@ningadovacy), so follow along if you get as excited as we already are! We’ll announce our winner in a Broadcast Message when we hit 10,000, at which time you’re encouraged to shower the winner(s) with hearty cries of congratulations.

Good luck!

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Many Creators have noticed an increase in spam in the last couple of weeks on their Ning Networks. Starting around President’s day weekend we saw an increase in the amount of spam reported, reflecting an industry-wide increase, particularly from Canadian pharmaceutical companies.

What are we doing about it and how can you help?

We are aware of this issue and have been working hard to provide short term fixes for this increase and long term solutions to harden the platform against these trends. A lot of our work is in the background and not directly visible to Network Creators or Members.

That said, here is a run down of some of the features that you may see:

  • We continue to tighten and refine our rules for identifying and removing spam accounts automatically, which you should see as a decrease in unwanted activity.
  • We recently released the “suspend for spam” feature. We are now using this data to automatically disable accounts and analyzing it to help improve our ability to spot and remove these accounts more quickly.
  • Last week, we introduced a Captcha feature for Ning Networks who do not use member moderation.
  • We are working on a feature that will allow Members designated by the Creator to flag content and hide it from view...more details to follow.


We’re very aware of how spam affects Ning Networks and we are working hard behind the scenes to tackle this issue. In the next few weeks and months you should see significant improvements in our ability to block spammers before they hit your Ning Networks as well as new tools to help you manage unwanted content on your Ning Networks.

Martin Westhead (Martin runs the Spam and Abuse Prevention team at Ning).

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Thanks to all the amazing Network Creators who entered our Ning + Austin contest! We’re thrilled to announce the three winners:

Swap Mamas is about getting to know other parents, making connections, and doing a little old school trading with friends. The more you give, the more you get.


Amped 4-a-Cure uses the universal language of music as the vehicle to deliver the message to the masses of the importance of getting behind the efforts of cancer research.



20 Something Bloggers has brought together thousands of bloggers from all over the world, and spawned a vibrant community of like-minded, fascinating people who thrive on one another's support and feedback.


Stay tuned – we’ll be announcing another Creators contest this Monday - open to every member of Creators!

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We've just released our Facebook app, which joins our recent Twitter app as another way for you to use the power of social-media channels to grow your Ning Network.

When we release a new feature, we do our best to get the word out to NCs by blogging about it here on Creators and on the Ning Blog. But what about your members? How do you get the word out when you add a new Ning Network feature? If you’ll be installing the new Facebook app (or the recently released Twitter app), will you be passing along any information about it to your members?

We thought we’d give you some boilerplate copy you can use to send a broadcast message to your members. If you send out a regular broadcast message or newsletter, consider including it. Or, you could use this a jumping off point to get your members excited about sharing great content from your Ning Network on Facebook and Twitter.


Of course, you can always customize it (below) to fit your needs, but we hope this helps make it easy to keep your members informed and using all of the tools you've given them to their fullest potential.

++++

Announcing: Facebook Integration


New feature! We recently added Facebook integration to our Ning Network. Now you can share your favorite posts, photos, events, and videos directly on Facebook. Just look for the Facebook logo when you see something worth sharing and check the box before posting. You can share just about anything on our Ning Network.


Want to see what everyone is posting and sharing? We have a new Facebook page. Check it out!


Like Something You See? Share It on Twitter!


We're excited to let you know about our recent Twitter integration! On our Ning Network, we've cultivated a spirit of sharing, and one of the ways we do that is on Twitter. When we see something we think the rest of the world might find interesting, we send out a tweet with a link. We like sharing things on Twitter so much that we've now integrated it directly into our Ning Network. See something you want to share with the world? Click on the Twitter link to have it also post to your Twitter account. We hope you enjoy it!

Here's a walk-through video that explains how it works: http://bit.ly/63TViH

++++

Want to include logos with your announcement? I’ve attached these for you here as well, along with an example of how you might do it (top of this blog post)

facebook_logo.jpg

twitter_birds.png

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Many Network Creators and members have written to us recently through the Help Center and here on Creators reporting issues related to Search. I head up Ning’s Search team, one of the Agile Teams here at Ning, and we’re currently working hard to improve the search experience across the Ning Platform.

Right now, the Search team is developing a platform-wide Ning Network search in parallel with our ongoing efforts to improve in-network search. We’ve been working on both of these projects for some time now. Just last week, we made some major changes to in-network search, including hardware upgrades, that should ensure current and steady results. We’ve also heard a lot of feedback from Network Creators and members requesting that we bring back search for Ning Networks, and we want to make it better than ever! We have a release planned for this updated feature sometime in late March.

We appreciate your patience as we continue our efforts to revamp search. In the meantime, if you have any search-related questions or concerns about your individual Ning Network, we can help you through the Help Center. As always, our Advocacy Team is happy to help! They work closely with us in Search to make sure we stay on top of pressing issues and keep us posted with feedback received on Creators and through the Help Center.

Stay tuned for further updates on Search!

Thanks!
Brent

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As you may know, Premium Support is one of the premium services we offer, which allows you to get quick turnaround for questions on your Ning Network. We offer three levels of support for various needs, from 24 hours to 4 for urgent issues. While we try to answer everyone's questions efficiently and reliably, we make it a priority to answer our Premium Support holders first. You can see a quick comparison of our Premium Support plans here, including how we prioritize issues.

Premium Support focuses on providing guaranteed time frames for responses to your questions. According to ourPremium Support Terms, we answer questions relating to issues you are experiencing, feature requests, and general usage and development questions. To clarify, we can help direct you where to find help on CSS or whether a Ning App is possible; we don’t have an in house team to design or develop Ning Apps for individual Ning Networks. That said we’re happy to suggest external firms who do provide this!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the
Ning Help Center. And if you already have Premium Support purchased, be sure you are signing in with the account and Ning Network covered under support!

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Two New Insight Programs

Today on the Ning Blog we highlighted a couple of new programs we think will add to the great insights we see here on Ning Creators. Take a look at the post for more information about these programs. I've included a quick recap below as well:

The Network Creator Council Program - This program is made up of a group of active Network Creators like yourself with whom we periodically discuss upcoming feature releases, brainstorming sessions, and other targeted input sessions. We’re going to purposely limit membership in this program to a group of roughly 100 members so we can really dive into each of the topics we review. We’re including Ning Networks of all sizes and types in this program so we can be sure to hear a variety of perspectives. Here’s a bit more about how the program works:

  1. Council members are invited to Palo Alto for a 1-day "Summit." The goal of this Summit is for Ning to learn more about participants' Ning Networks, tell them how the Council program works, and gather their feedback on a series of upcoming features and other things we're working on.
  2. After the Summit, we conduct regular conference calls so we can get more input from Council members on new topics or changes we've made based on Network Creator input.
  3. Finally, we also have a private Ning Network that we host for the program to ensure we keep the lines of communication open with the Council members. As with the Summits and Conference Calls, information from this Ning Network is kept confidential and is not divulged outside of the Council program so that we can maintain the privacy of our Council members and our own product development where it makes sense.

If you're interested in participating in the Council program, feel free to email us (ning-research@ning.com) with your name and Ning Network url. As I noted above, participation is limited, so we can’t guarantee you’ll be invited into the program, but we definitely want to hear from Network Creators who are interested in providing constructive input.

Quarterly Online Survey - Last month, you may have seen an invitation from Ning to participate in a brief online questionnaire. This 11-question survey is a way for us to regularly measure how we're doing along several key attributes in the Network Creator experience. We'll be keeping regular tabs on this data throughout the year as we strive to create the best experience for you and your Ning Networks.

Through the discussions here on Ning Creators, we've learned a lot about you and your experiences. We look forward to opening the lines of communication even further with these two new initiatives.

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We're excited to be heading to Austin, TX in March for the SXSW Interactive conference, March 12-16. While we're there, we'll have a booth on display at the SXSW Tradeshow during the day, and will be sponsoring the {RV}IP Lounge at night throughout SXSW Interactive.

While we're in Austin, we'd also love to meet up with any Network Creators that are either attending, or live in the area. Please let us know in the comments below if you'll be around!

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Well-designed Ning Networks

We've collected Ning Networks that have inspiring design here in the past. Here's a post on Socialbrite, where LauraO shares some of her favorites. The collection includes Ning Networks focused on commercial efforts, those that are non-profit based, as well as a couple making best use of the Groups feature.

Some will be familiar, but there are definitely a few Ning Networks new to me!


What do you think of those mentioned? Which do you think should be joining as a best-designed Ning Network?

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NC for Hire
UPDATE:
FEEDLY MAGAZINE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE USING THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN IN THIS DISCUSSION. IT HAS BEEN REPORTED THAT THE EMBEDDED CODE WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AGAIN UNTIL SUMMER 2010.


Wow! OMGosh, I'm in LOVE! Do not miss out on this awesome Ning App. Have you been chomping at the bit to combine your Latest Activity RSS feeds? Here you go - - the Feedly Ning App.

This is a great tool to utilize, to combine your RSS feeds in one place. And not only does Feedly combine your feeds, per your selection, the Feedly Magazine format, rocks.

I will admit, I had to carefully follow all of Ernie's instructions, here:
Learn How To Add Feedly Magazine Using Your RSS Content
but, was it worth it! Feedly is some powerful application, to say the least. I can certainly see why they won the recent Appathon! Hop over and read Ernie's instructions, come back here and find more tips!

Basically, you install the Feedly add-on to your browser, and start adding your selected content (RSS feeds) to your Feedly Magazine. Aside from Ernie's instructions, this is my best advice: Be sure to create a Category, and give it a name, like your Ning Network Name. Then, add your Ning RSS feeds to your new Category.

At first glance, the Feedly.com interface is a little intimidating. Navigate around and experiment. It won't take you long to catch on. I had created a magazine filled with great content, in less than 10 minutes. The key to keeping your Feedly in one place for your Ning Network, is the Category. DO NOT use a Category Title with 2 words and a space, like Ning Directory. This will mess up the URL when you're ready to add to your Ning. Instead use something like: NingDirectory (no spaces).

The finished results seem to be random, which keeps it fresh. I'm still getting comfortable with the app.

Follow Ernie's instructions from the link above. Then, after you've installed Feedly to your Browser, create that category, and start adding those URLs (using "add source"). When you've added all the RSS feeds you want, get ready to grab the embedded code. You can install on your Ning Network via the special Ning App instructions (different than most Ning app installs), or you can install via a new page (see below).

Additionally, here's a great video tutorial offered by the Feedly Team.


How To Add Your Feedly Via a New Page, instead of Ning Apps:
If you want to add your Feedly Magazine to your Ning Network via a new page - - when you get to the point that you grab the embedded code, grab the HTML Widget link, instead of the Ning Widget link. Add the HTML Widget link via an iframe, within a new page.
Tip: To create a new page on your Ning Network, go to this link:
http://yournetwork.ning.com/page/page/new

Here's the iframe code you'll need for your new page.

<div align="center" id="feedly_mag"><iframe src="http://www.feedly.com/embed#mix/07932917225450226256/NingDirectory"
width="100%" height="1000" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div>

Just replace the URL with your feedly URL. Again, do not use the Ning Widget URL link, to add feedly via a new page. Use the HTML Widget link.

Good luck creating your new Feedly Magazine, for your Ning Network! What a fantastic viral marketing opportunity!
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RSS
Email me when there are new items in this category –

Meanwhile, you can check our social media channels