Platform Wars-X

“A Dime a Dozen” – I hate using this old cliche but when it comes to Social Web Platforms this old saying holds true.  Social web platforms are in fact a dime a dozen. They range from popular to unpopular to unknown. I’ve  seen a lot of “unknowns” come out the woodwork lately in an attempt to win over the customers of a dying social web platform legend – Ning.

 A Brief Back Story

A lot of Ning’s customers began searching for a suitable replacement for their online communities almost immediately after Ning’s plan to phase out their very popular and highly successful 2.0 platform in favor of their “more advanced” platform (Ning v3.0) was made public back in 2013. Somewhere along the lines, something went terribly wrong with those plans. Quite a sizable percentage of the active members of Ning’s online community – creators.ning.com share the feeling that Mode Media – Ning’s parent company is attempting to phase out the Ning brand and platform in favor of  their more upscale brands (glam.com, foodie.com, tend.com, brash.com) and thus attribute the shortcomings of Ning 3.0 to that belief. These sentiments are well documented here – Alternatives to Ning social network: a forum topic on Ning’s creators network.

RecommendedWhy Most Ning 2.0 Customers Should Abandon Ship

Creators.ning.com, a once vibrant online community of support for Ning’s customers or Network Creators and administrators have become more of a bulletin board / advertising medium for Ning’s competitors. The blatant advertising have persisted for months with very little or no resistance from Ning’s administrative members. As a matter of fact, Ning haven’t really made their presence known since mid to late 2014.

Still Looking for an Alternative to Ning?

To this day I still believe that SocialEngine PHP is the best alternative for those looking to migrate thier Ning networks but let’s forget about Ning for a minute. I believe that SocialEngine PHP is the best social web platform available, period. Now I’m not saying there aren’t other great alternative to Ning or other great platforms out there.  I’m just saying from what I’ve seen thus far, SocialEngine is the best.

Best Options for Those Looking to Migrate Their Ning Networks

1. SocialEngine PHP
Pros

  • Available Do it Yourself Import Tool
  • Fully Loaded (top package) and Ready to Use out the Box
  • Abundance of Third-party Plugins
  • Relatively Easy Learning Curve

Cons

  • High Price Point
  • Less than Stellar Customer Support

2. Jamroom
Pros

  • Available Do it Yourself Import Tool
  • Lots of Great Features
  • Amazing Customer Support System

Cons

  • Relatively Steep Learning Curve
  • Limited Third Party Plugin

3. BuddyPress
Pros

  • Available Do it Yourself Import Tool
  • 100% Free
  • Abundance of Third-party Plugins
  • Relatively Easy Learning Curve

Cons 

  • Significant Limitations of Import Tool
  • Heavily Dependent on Third Party Plugins for Popular Features
  • Not Ideal For Media Driven Networks (my opinion)

My Overall Top Picks For Social Web Platforms

My selections are a bit bias. You’ll notice that I make no mention of turnkey platforms. I have a very strong preference for self hosted software based platforms simply because they provide you with the greatest flexibility and true ownership of your site and its data.

Keep Your Eyes on Jamroom!

I’ll be honest…I’m not a fan of Jamroom. There’s too much about the platform that I just don’t like. Maybe that’s because the platform is geared towards musicians and was designed to cater strictly to the needs of individuals in the music industry. The platform is just not appealing to me, but that’s me. Other non musicians may see it differently.

I’ll tell what I do like about Jamroom. The platform is in a state of evolution and things are changing for the better. I think that Jamroom has the potentials to become a real powerhouse platform that will appeal to just about everyone.  Innovation is the key to survival and prosperity – The Jamroom devs have been hard at work in there attempts to make Ning migrants feel at home and that has led to some amazing transformations throughout the platform. Hey, great things happen when you put your customers before profits.

Other Platforms Worth Exploring

Some of the platforms listed above offer demos that does not require installation and configuration. I encourage you to take advantage of these live demos so that you can explore and draw your own conclusions.