Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Ning and Customer Betrayal

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@Darren Scott - it's reasonable to expect to pay for service though, isn't it? Wondering out loud.

@Mark - there's a cost for doing business. Clearly, some freemium models just didn't yield enough return to continue.

@Donna Maria - I agree that businesses should think about investing and therefore paying for products and services. Integrating outposts with your own sites makes sense. Ultimately, there is value in the community to have continuity in one place and for the business to invest in that one place so it owns and not rents, so to speak, makes sense.

One quick reply to Valeria. You ask a good question. I think that, as business owners, we must know that there is no free ride. All of these social networking sites (FaceBook, Twitter -- all of them) have one job and that is to make money. We should use them for what they're worth and leverage the heck out of them. But if you want to be successful with any kind of content model, you absolutely must maintain your own brands at sites you own. A blog and a newsletter, perhaps other things as well, are key. It's vital to own your content and the core mediums you use to share it with the world.

I agree that Ning could have handled things better. Their announcement was brash, presumptuous and rudely delivered. Having said that, at least they were clear and removed any possible doubt about the direction of their company. They also give plenty of notice I think. I feel badly for people who cannot export -- Ning should make that easy.

But looking at the bigger picture, I host nearly 6,000 users at my community. I started out with the premium service because, as a for profit business owner, I wanted a community that I would increase my company profitability. I think it's ridiculous for a business owner to think that s/he should be able to do that on someone else's dime.

It's your business. Invest in it. Why should someone else invest in your business when you're not willing to do that yourself? At least that's the question I asked myself.

For profits have had a chance to build their Ning communities for free. Some of that time should have been spent thinking about making it profitable too.

As long as the monthly or annual price is reasonable for what you get, pay it and put in the work to generate the revenues that make the service pay for itself and also enhance your bottom line. That's what business is all about.

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