Since last month’s news that Ning would eliminate free social networks from its platform, other companies have been competing to produce the best free alternative for Ning’s millions of users. Grouply appears to be the winner at the moment, having developed a migration tool that will seamlessly import Ning networks onto its own platform — and releasing it on the same day that Ning announced its new pricing models.
After setting up a free Grouply social group, the content from a Ning network can be imported seamlessly to the new platform and members can be notified of their new home with a single click. Grouply social groups provide the same functionality as Ning networks such as a customizable community website, events, forums and an app store. Grouply also offers some services not found on Ning networks such as a comprehensive e-mail interface, group analytics, advanced site privacy and a cross-group administrative dashboard.
Ning has had a difficult spring in replacing its Chief Operating Officer, ending the free service and laying off 40 percent of its staff, but the site still attracts about 6 million unique monthly visitors. This week the social network platform announced the new paid models it will be rolling out in July, ranging from $2.95 per month for a Ning Mini Network to $49.95 for a Ning Pro subscription.
Grouply, a startup that helps users create and monetize social groups, is not the only company trying to lure refugees from Ning. What will be interesting to see is how many users do leave Ning for free services elsewhere, and if the free social network-building model is viable in light of Ning’s move to subscription services.