Ning, the newest in online social networking tools, is taking the way we are used to interacting with people online and turning it upside down.
Tools like Facebook and Twitter connect users to friends and family, whereby Ning connects people based on users' unique interests and passions. Pretty much helping people create their own social networks.
For example, I like the Ottawa Senators. If you like the Ottawa Senators too, you'll find me. And subsequently, using Ning, you'll join the conversation I'm currently having about the Ottawa Senators.
It's all about like-minded people becoming friends based on similar interests, rather than being thrust into a friendship with someone you may have met at a party in 2003...but you're not quite sure (I'm talking to you Facebook).
How will this shape the future of online social networking? For one, it adds another tool to the social media toolbox, and I'd like to think that people will embrace this way of networking more. Some social networking campaigns are talking to anyone and everyone, and some of those people don't care to hear from you.
If you speak to a group of people using Ning, than all of a sudden you're talking to people who are already showing interest in what you do. From a marketing standpoint, organizations now have a more focused and direct approach to speaking with potential targets. That's to say, of course, only if Ning becomes popular.
In January, Ning saw 4.7 million unique visitors and there are now over 1 million social networks. So, it's showing some very good potential.
Check it out and let me know what you think: www.ning.com