Ning – Creating your own social network

Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini created Ning October of 2005. Ning is a social networking site that allows you to personalize exactly what’s on your site, use personal backgrounds and add text, pictures, and videos. This site has the capabilities to be used on a social, educational, and professional level.
Capabilities of Ning:

  • Create unique member profiles that allow you to customize the appearance of your page, specify exactly what content you have on your site as well as, where it goes, and gives you the choice of applications to have on your page.
  • Network with others. Use Ning in order to add friends and share your site by giving you a personalized full web address such as and also provides you with the option of making your site private and controlling what others can see.
  • Upload pictures, blogs, videos and direct links to other sites simply and efficiently.
  • Chat with friends as well as, view most recent activity updates.
  • Organize events, know exactly who will be attending and send out reminders to the participants.
  • Open groups and discussions to allow discussion and share pictures, links, and videos.

Benefits of Ning:

Ning is a FREE tool with the only catch being that advertisements run on the right side of the page. If you are using Ning as a professional you can pay a small fee in order to get the advertisements off of your page. When creating your website you can create tags of specific content on the page that allows others to search for information on your site. Ning is simple to run and a site can be launched in 2 minutes.

Diane Hamilton-HancockDiane Hamilton-Hancock, faculty member of Health Sciences, has been incorporating the use of Ning into her HS 444 “Methods and Techniques of Health Education” course for the past few semesters.  Students choose specific health topics or organizations and they create a private Network dedicated to sharing information about that organization or topic. With Ning they can provide links to relative websites, videos discussing the topic, pictures, music, discussion boards, blogs, and much more.

According to the 2009 Pew Institute Internet Research Survey findings, six out of ten adults look to the Internet for health information.  However, a mere twenty-five percent of these online health consumers seek to validate the credibility of the health information they obtain.  The use of online sites by health professionals and educators has unfortunately been slow to establish.  In an effort to better prepare students to use technology, both undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the health sciences methods and techniques courses are being trained to effectively use social networking sites and other online resources to deliver health education and promotion messages.  This is an especially effective way to reach those who are isolated due to geography, physical disability, or other factors.   It also provides a setting for individuals to address sensitive health issues, such as AIDS or addiction, in a anonymous environment that tends to diminishes social stigma.

Tech Tip:

Manage Your Ning Social Network

Navigate to your Ning network. For this example, my network is

Since the network is private, I need to login first

Ning Login Graphic

Once logged in, you will see a page that looks something like the image below.

Ning Admin Site

The manage page gives us access to all of our social network settings.

Manage your Ning Network

Click on “Features” to add, edit and reorganize the elements of your social network site.

Ning Features

Widgets from sites like Twitter and Facebook can be added by adding additional “Text Box” elements to the page

Ning Text Box

Here’s the twitter page for creating a status widget.  You can see that it provides the code we need to copy and paste into the Ning text box.

Profile Widget

Paste the code from Twitter (or any other 3rd party) into the text box under Ning

Ning Text Update Box

Finally, click ‘Save’ and you should see the updated widget appear on your page instantaneously!

Ning with Twitter Widget

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