When I heard early last week that Ning would be dropping its free offerings and going completely to being a paid service, it didn't worry me too much. Although I have a Ning network, it's never grown beyond a handful of members. Still, I wanted to have a social network available for potential future projects where having a community would be helpful or necessary. There are many options out there, but I opted for Grou.ps, and I'm glad I did.
Grou.ps offers pretty much everything I had with Ning, plus the possibility of assigning a custom domain to the site. In my case I chose to create a subdomain of one of my domains, registered through Godaddy. The steps to do this were fairly straightforward but the process was by no means immediate. While I created the CNAME in Godaddy's Total DNS with no particular problem, it took nearly 24 hours before the Grou.ps site would recognize and accept the custom domain I input. It worked eventually, however, and now I'm the proud administrator of a Grou.ps-hosted social network.
Here's a screenshot of my old Ning site:
Here's the new Grou.ps site:
Why don't you check it out and join, if interested?
Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff (TechCrunch)