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I just finished reading the book "Viral Loop" by Adam Penenberg (here's the review I wrote about it). In one of the chapters, the author goes in depth about Ning and Ning's "double viral loop": we're all users of networks and all users of networks are potential network creators.He talks in depth about the viral coefficient, an indicator of how viral your network's growth is. Having each member bring along two other people translates into a coefficient of 1, which ensures continued viral growth.How do you get your members to help you grow your network?

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  • A referral contest comes to mind immediately, but I definitely wonder if there are other methods - member-created meetups maybe?

    • NC for Hire
      I am working on a referral contest right now with a possible monthly prize i am trying to get funds to secure.

      I strongly believe though that it would be insane to overlook the context of the group in designing anything to generate activity. If you run a triathlon site for instance you could make a generic contest for instance and that would work.

      However, i would try to incorporate as much actual tangible contextual and conceptual items of the community. For instance, I would create a designate a baton that can be passed along by individuals of the community from state to state, city to city from the east coast to the west cost and use GPS to track it's progress online for all the other members to see with opportunities for them to contribute to the success of the outcome. Possibly even stipulate that a third of the race be completed by running, biking and swimming. Also while each member was doing this that they where a specific t-shirt with a designated number representing the site and it's goal so onlookers could go also participate by visiting the site. The shirt could be purchased from the site by those who wanted to participate.

      If there is anyway I can incorporate the actual items related to the community I would prefer that to a generic contest even if the generic contest would be more successful simply for what the experience would be like for those participating.

      Now how do I incorporate digital cups of water along the path? Maybe a sponsorship with some bottled water company?
      • Oh wow - like a real life contest? That would be really cool.

        • NC for Hire
          Well this is what I love about the potential of Ning compared to other social networks. There is an inherit quality about Ning that seems to say that communities encouraged through social networks are more empowered to take action in the real world about the passions and interests the group is formed around.

          Other social networks to me seem more in the friend and report on things personal and public. There are spurts of charitable activities but it always seems like an add on to the main purpose of socializing and sharing our info. Ning allows you to create the interest or cause first then seek people who are aligned with the cause as opposed to being at a cocktail party (social network) and then using it as an opportunity to drum up support for your cause or passion which may turn off people who just want to socialize with friends and family or network.

          It is literally impossible to just socialize on Ning unless you create a topic of interest unless of course that topic of interest is socializing. :-)
  • ReverbNation has something like this.
    It's called "Street Team" ..
    You can set missions and rewards.
    They have widgets that can be deployed with Street Team ID's attached to keep fair count.
    I'm really impressed with ReverbNation .. it's great for musicians , fans , venues & Labels.
    i hope to see them add , Press, non-profits, Film Makers & Publicist.
    And some way to mass deploy video uploads ( like TubeMogul )
    • NC for Hire
      I really like your posts. They are filled with common sense and good advice other NCs can use on their network. I already got 2 tangential ideas from what you have written for a project I am working on. I am hoping for someway to leverage virtual gifts. For instance, in your case based on the cost of your iPhone app you could very well upload a custom gift with a picture of your app and sell it on your Ning site. The problem would be addressing cost because you would only get half the revenue.

      How do you give the app for free at the iTunes store yet still maintain a paid version? I had not noticed a way to do that on the iTunes store.
  • Talking about Viral Loops, this announcement posted on the Ning Blog rocks!
    • well that would be cool it it would also take updates from twitter and post them to my Ning profile.
      Then i could use reverbnation to update all my social networks .. ( or the most important ones anyway )
  • It's not so much a "viral loop" but we did something viral-ish...

    We run a network called Lost Zombies. Our goal is to create a community generated zombie movie. Early on we created stickers like this one:


    We told users that if they sent us a self addressed stamped envelope we'd give them free stickers. We used twitter and Facebook to spread this message. We gave away about 3,000 stickers.

    I believe people are a bit desensitized to traditional viral mechanics. With our site's theme, we found that bridging offline (stickers) with online drew in a lot of users. It also gave users an action for which they received status in the community. By that I mean users would place stickers in curious locations then take pics and submit them to the site. These stickers pics propagated throughout the web drawing people back to our site. It's difficult to measure the exact results but we saw a big increase in our user base with the sticker campaign.
  • I like these contest and similar ideas, especially bridging to the "real" (analog) world.

    But there's one aspect of site promotion that, at least as far as I can tell, isn't possible with Ning networks. I talked to support and they tell me they have no plans to add this and don't know of anyone else working on it. It may become the reason I decide not to open my new social net on Ning but to use SocialSAM instead. (This applies primarily to those who are building sites designed to make money, BTW.)

    You can get viral very quickly, I believe based on my relatively extensive (15+ years) online community experience, by using a two-tiered affiliate model. If you offer members a piece of the membership fee and ecommerce sales generated by people they get to join your community, you can both generate revenue and build virally. Few things entice people to promote something than getting free money for doing so.

    (BTW, if you know of someone working on this problem for Ning, I'd love to hear from them.)
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