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

You Make Your Bed, You Sleep In It! 

- Do you want to get more members? Perhaps you would like to do a better job of focusing their attention? How does the idea of getting people excited about coming back to your network sound?

In this Ning Creators post, I'll offer a few quick insights on:

  • Attracting members to your niche community
  • Engaging a specific interest group
  • Keeping people coming back

What I won't do is tell you what you want to hear, lol! Maybe when I'm done you'll say, "I hadn't thought of it that way before".

Just Because You Are Running The Show Doesn't Mean You Have To Get All Uptight About It!



The Problem With Defining A Niche


By spelling out a specific purpose for your social network, you might be creating some of the very problems you thought you were solving by doing so. You might think defining a niche would help you get people in the door, possibly help them get exposure, and almost certainly give them a good reason to get involved in something on an ongoing basis.


Not there yet? Well perhaps it is a built in flaw that comes with defining a niche without realizing the implications of the social boundaries you have created. You might inadvertantly be shutting people out, shutting people in, and shutting people down. It's common sense to have a specific purpose and stick to your guns for the benefit of your community focus, but how's that approach really working out for you?



A Singular Focus Can Make It Harder To Relate To People In All Their Complexity


Contemporary wisdom suggests if you define a niche more specific than "social networking" alone, you will have a competitive advantage. However, in doing so, you naturally narrow your target market down, exclude a range of uses for your site, and thus cancel out a lot of opportunities for people to use it for social networking. Still wondering why your network is not growing as fast as you thought it would? Think about that!



You Need A Better Answer To "So What" Than "Just Because (I Have A Niche Social Network)"


It's easy to get excited about defining your niche, especially when you are first creating your Ning network. You can imagine how a site dedicated to such and such theme will automatically impress everyone that shares the interest. However, unless you are really doing something exceptional, you might actually find it even harder to connect with that target market.


For one, it's increasingly difficult to distinguish a niche group online because virtually anyone can and everyone is acting on the idea already. I've got my own personal interests like anyone else, but people constantly trying to hook me on that fact gets old fast. Besides, most of what I see when I do look in is boring and unimaginative.


How many people do you know that really want to spend all their time around one interest anyway, to organize a community around it, or even think to look for a social network dedicated to it? Yes, you hear of the success all the time, and plenty of people do that, but what that means for you is debatable.


SEO guys will tell you people are out there looking for you, but there's a lot of assumption to go with the statistics. If a search term has a great track record, that might really mean you've already lost your opportunity to get infront of those clicks. Most people I know with any kind of enthusiasm for a specific interest have long since grown accustomed to where they like to go online for it.



Let People Use Your Niche As A Starting Point (Not A Stopping Point)


You might be surprised just how many people might not even know they are interested in your project, that encountering it by chance, could end up being your most enthusiastic participants. It makes me think of that saying "one in a million". If you want to spend your time finding that "one", then that is exactly what you will be doing (relatively speaking).


However, if you can broaden your scope to have something to offer the "million", perhaps the chances of the people you want in your community finding you will be all the more likely.



It's Easier Said than Done!


If you would like to learn about how I am applying this strategy to my own niche social network, I'm talking about it on my Ning Creators group here-


Best, Anthony






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  • I use member invitations to help get traffic flowing. Not worried so much about exposure or sharing as I am about user engagement. People come back because there is something new, because members want to connect with friends and each reply or comment or post they make helps other members know that the site is getting attention. Especially in the chat room (s) which make it easier for people to see that they can jump in when ever they want. What makes something overwhelming I find, is if people feel that something is being pushed on them that is not to their interest. I like to put variety in the network to get people sharing more readily.

  • Anthony,

    Thanks so much for all your very helpful information. I am still working on that 30 seconds on my home page! LOL!


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