Re-Align-Ning: Is “Free” Eroding? This past week, a memo leaked that showed social network provider Ning will be eliminating free accounts, going to a paid-only model, as well as laying off about 40% of its staff. It seems that Ning needed to realign its resources to survive, but the way it was communicated (or not) got a lot of communications pros, and Ning customers, up in arms. A few intersting points and posts. Shel Holtz, and other Sprout customers, went through a similar thing when the free version of that widget service was pulled, leaving the For Immediate Release podcast widgets inoperable, without much warning. Shel, of course, weighed in, pretty hot about the breach of customer trust he feels Ning committed. John Cass take a measured look at the “fumbled” communications strategy, and invites a lot of comments (including mine); also worth a read. One major complaint was that there was no official communication from Ning’s new management; as I commented on John’s post, a company needs to be prepared for news to get out before they want it to, and to react quickly. On April 16, there finally was a blog post from the new CEO. Enough? It was short and scant on details, but promised more, including ways for free members to port their accounts. Speaking of moving the free accounts, I asked in my comment on John Cass’ post if there was an opportunity for another provider to take on these stranded customers. Then, I found this thread in which a community was helping each other make suggestions; and another one in which a person made a WordPress plugin to move Ning communities. Promoted Tweets There seem to be two extremes in the reaction to Twitter’s new (gasp!) revenue play, Promoted Tweets, which seems slightly like Google Ads in that they want to be relevant,and in the stream of Tweets and clearly marked. One extreme is that ads will pollute our Twitter experience. I say they will be welcome relief from spam and snake oil- well, not a relief since that crap will still be fouling my screen, but whatever. The other extreme is that this is the savior of Twitter- yay revenue! I have yet to see what they expect to earn from this, but suspect it is just one brick in a bigger wall of this slowly-building business. Time will tell. Hitler and iPhone Apps Just when we thought the Hitler “Downfall” meme was played out, comes this take on the Apple war with Adobe over app-building for the iPhone, with developers caught in the crossfire. Leave it to tech wags to make Hitler look sympathetic next to Steve Jobs. Coolest Song Ever of the Week Madonna’s Borderline performed by the Flaming Lips and Stardeath & White Dwarf. This has been out over a year, but I finally stumbled across it. I actually heard Stardeath perform it themselves opening for the ‘Lips. Borderline The Flaming Lips | MySpace Music Videos That’s it. Four. I’m on a mini-vacation. Sue me.