Ning Ditches Free Accounts; Users Scramble

One of the common questions we receive here at PRNewser from brands and agencies is whether they should build out their own social platforms, or establish themselves on existing platforms.

With sites that have massive scale, like Facebook or Twitter, the question is a no brainer. But what about when you’re a cash-strapped organization looking to develop your own community site?

You may have turned to Ning, which enabled people and brands to create their own social networks for free. Until recently. Now, if you want to maintain your Ning community, you need to pay, the company recently announced.

PR blogger and consultant Shel Holtz says the move destroys the brand’s reputation:

Deciding to stick with Ning and pay the fee requires more consideration than just the cost. The first question I’d ask is, “Can I ever trust anything Ning says, ever again?” My answer: Not a chance. I’m not sure there’s anything Ning could ever do to regain my trust.

After being lured in by a great price point — free! — now, thousands of Ning communities face a decision: pay up, or move elsewhere.

In a marketing world where we’re told the corporate website is dead, these recent moves by Ning are a serious reminder to take into consideration what data you completely own, and what data can be “turned off” at a moment’s notice by a third party provider.