Friday, September 17, 2004

Paid Membership On Ryze

Paid Membership On Ryze -

Ryze earns part of it's income from paid memberships. In my view the description of what's offered is not well considered. Ryze pretends there are several "benefits" that a not real for most people. However, there are real benefits. Ryze management is just confused (temporarily I hope) about what they are.

Gold membership of Ryze costs $9.95 per month. (Annual Gold membership for $99.95/yr) Many pay for the satisfaction of knowing that they are full participants in Ryze. It's expected that paid membership of Ryze will mostly interest business people and have a business purpose. By recently creating restrictions on the ability of Free Members see and contact each other, Ryze has made Gold Membership more important. Time will tell how that change will affect how Ryze develops. (Ecademy has restrictions like this too. That was one of the key reasons I focused most of my efforts on Ryze.)

Loading More Pictures: Gold members can load up to four extra pictures on their Ryze Homepage's. Can I make a plea here for small pictures. Too many pages have four or five large pictures which have not been compressed. If your page won't load in 20 or 30 seconds change the images.

Send Messages to Distant Members: Ryze says, "With a Gold membership, you can communicate with up to 25 distant members per month, people who are not within 2 friends of you and not in the same Networks as you." This is the new restriction posing as a benefit. However it's a fair call. If you needed to build a network and you can only invite 25 distant members a month, you can still contact a lot of people in a year. Considerately contacting new people takes time. You must choose your audience and write only to people who are likely to be interested. You can use pivot searching to find people who share interests.

"If you want, you can let any member communicate with you, without counting towards their communication limit." You should turn that option on, it doesn't help you, but it may help others.

Increase Your Ability to "See" and "Be Seen": Ryze says, "Web site URLs in profiles are now only visible if you're a Gold member or visiting a Gold member's page, or within 2 friends of the person." That means that if you are promoting a business, your business URL will not be visible to many "free members" unless you are a Gold or Platinum Member. In addition as a paying member you get to see almost all the content of any members page, including their business links and the networks they have joined. (But not their guestbook's if they are set to "friends Only".)

"Have your photo displayed in a large size (instead of tiny) next to your posts to the message boards, giving you better visibility and marketing" It's certainly true that recognition by your photograph is very useful. People are visual, they remember images.

Scan the List of Newest Members: Ryze says, "Save 4 hours each month using the Newest Members List -- Scan through mini-bios of the newest members all in one page without having to click through to each." This is a non-benefit pretending to have value. New members are not good material to network with. (They might be great to send spam too, but we're not doing that.) A few of those who join are new to Ryze but not really internet newbies. People like that will find materials like this Blog quite easily. They will very soon come to visit you. Trying to chase them isn't good use of your time. There are better things to do on Ryze.

New members on Ryze need mentors to help them get established. I suggest to Ryze that they establish a mentor programme for volunteer established members. A trade off. New Members are asked to choose a mentor, to be their "guide for a month". The person chosen gets a month's Gold Membership. Thousands of people join Ryze and never really get started. What a waste.

(Off Topic Note) Internet Newbies: Internet Newbies (About 80% of all Internet users in my view.) are unresponsive to realistic messages. They are newbies because they lack understanding and confidence. Any time you spend on them is 90% wasted. Please note that I believe training newbies is a very important task. This Blog is my response to that need. But I'm not going to hold every hand until each one develops the confidence to be independent. There is an enormous need to train newbies, but it costs a fortune in time and effort. I've met people with five years of internet experience who remain newbies. The main problem is that they won't "join" so they never get into a group where they might learn something. All learning is social. Newbies are human beings. They are probably engaged in some other social activity, that gives them pleasure. In the worst case they watch TV. They don't want to "join" or to be "trained" so they "resist" in every conceivable way. They will learn when they are "ready" and not before. Newbies have to turn themselves "on". Joining Ryze is a wonderful step in the right direction. But thousands of people join Ryze, partly set up a Ryze Homepage and then lose interest or get frightened off by fear of the unknown.

Your Own Network: Gold members can "Create a Network on Ryze, adding hundreds to your network and increasing your prominence and visibility" This is a real benefit, but most network leaders fail to build successful networks. Note the emphasis on "adding hundreds to your network". That will only happen if you know how to work with people. There is a great deal involved in being a successful network leader. Much of it is in the art of being useful to other people.

Success as a network leader involves choosing an interesting topic, setting fair rules for your network and creating yourself a large number of interesting posts while the membership slowly grows. You can use the pivot search process to identify people who might enjoy your network. As a Gold Member you can contact up to 25 such people every month and advise them about your network. Please do more than that. Be useful to these people, offer them something that helps.

There is a Ryze Network called Ryze Network Leaders and another one called The Virtual Handshake. All people leading networks should join both of those.

Writing in HTML: Ryze says, "Use of an HTML Editor, that lets you create your home page, message board posts, event descriptions, etc., without programming or installing software (it's in Flash)" I view this as a doubtful benefit. There are much better HTML editors available free. I usually suggest using the Composer function of the old Mozilla browser.
Warren Contreras suggests the Arachnophilia Editor which looks functional to me.
I've just discovered the joy of Mozilla's Firefox Browser, and you can add the CuneAform HTML Editor to it's toolbar.

You only need six or eight tags to write functional HTML text for letters to Ryze forums. Anyone can do it.

Face to Face Meetings: Ryze tell us to "Save $3+ at Ryze mixers and other featured events (easily covers at least half the cost of gold membership)" This is another doubtful benefit. You have to spend money to make the "saving" and there needs to be a programme of Ryze Mixers in your area. On the other hand people report excellent benefits from attending Ryze Mixers. Any social gathering is as good or as bad as it's organization. That depends entirely on the skills and abilities of the local organizer. If the leadership is good the mixers will be worthwhile.

Be a Person of Value: Ryze suggests that you should "Plan for productive networking at Mixers using the View Attendees Bio's. You get a summary of all attendees' backgrounds all in one page, without having to click through to each! So you can connect with the 5-10 most relevant people for you to network with at an event." This is another benefit in theory, that doesn't exist for most people. The emphasis here is on, "What can I get for me." The focus should be on, "What do I have to give the group?" Make yourself USEFUL to other people. Start by reading their Ryze Homepage's, take an interest in their posts to networks, listen to what they say. Be real to them.

Platinum membership

Ryze Platinum Membership costs $19.95 per month (Annual Platinum Membership $199.95)

"With a Platinum membership, you can: Enjoy all the benefits of a Ryze Gold membership, plus"
"Lead up to 3 Networks on Ryze, instead of just one, giving you more visibility and the ability to market to different groups with different focuses."
There is a huge amount of work to leading one successful network, let alone three. Leading three networks on different topics is likely to confuse people about your purpose.

I can see uses for multiple networks in a business framework. You can run an active public network, and run two related "private" networks for your "paying customers". Access to the main network is open to all. Access to the private networks is restricted, invitation only, and subject to your approval.

Plus; you can "Communicate with up to 35 distant members per month, people who are not within 2 friends of you and not in the same Networks as you." That's the ability to contact 10 additional distant members a month. Useful I guess, but if you are running three networks you'll probable never get the chance to use them.

Innovation Realities

The new restrictions on what you can see and who you can contact are I believe intended to drive up Gold Membership. I expect that after some people drop away, that effect will occur. Ryze needs a strong revenue model. If the network doesn't produce cash returns it will die. Ecademy tries to drive up revenue with advertising. Let's not use that model on Ryze.

[insert] Adrian Scott, Ryze Founder & CEO remarks in comment "1" below "The changes are designed to reduce spam and encourage thoughtful networking. The effects on Gold membership are unknown and a risk for Ryze, rather than a goal of these changes." There is access to the "Updated version: improving the quality and experience of business networking on Ryze" here. Thank you Adrian for the input. I don't mind being wrong, I just wish it didn't happen all the time. [/Insert]

In my view Ryze Platinum Membership, has been badly thought through. My expertise is in innovation. My knowledge tells me that all innovations are messy, and when large groups of people are involved bloody too. It's easy to be wise afterwards, very difficult looking forward.

None of us really know why Ryze works so well, and what small changes might enhance it or kill it. All our theories about that are simply ideas that we can't easily test. What will happen because guestbook's have become "Friends Only" areas for most people? We can't tell. Ryze hopes that people will use the guestbook's for chatty little personal notes I guess. Text Messaging via guestbook's perhaps. Maybe that will work. That's not what I see as the purpose of a guestbook.

There is enormous opportunity for Ryze and several other Social Networks to grow and prosper. These are early days. As our experience grows we begin to see new possibilities. We try to make changes that take us forward. We do something. We learn. Some of what we learn confounds our expectation. Why? We get some new ideas and we try again. Research Scientist, Andrew Wylie (He published in 1972 a paper on the discovery of apoptosis), described the innovation (discovery) process as like crawling down a blackened corridor on hands and knees looking for an exit. The problem is that you can find exits into rooms that have no real windows and only a single door, back into that black corridor. Trying to move forward with any innovation is like that. When you can "see" you are probably not making progress. When you are making progress you usually can't be sure if you're doing the right or the wrong thing. What you can be sure of, is that time teaches valuable lessons to those with eyes to see. We are all wiser with hindsight.

The latest changes to Ryze are interesting. Lessons will be learnt. Real innovations take a long time. Progress is made in many small steps, not always successful steps. It's important to conserve resources. Wrong moves and mistakes teach you how to succeed. So long as innovators maintain their resource base ( best ideas, people, customer base, leadership and cash) they can go forward to fight another day.

If innovation interests you see the Veech Innovation Network on Ryze.

John S Veitch
You may comment privately to John S Veitch using this form.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi - I wanted to submit one correction:

The post says:

"The new restrictions on what you can see and who you can contact are intended to drive up Gold Membership."

This is actually not accurate. The changes are designed to reduce spam and encourage thoughtful networking. The effects on Gold membership are unknown and a risk for Ryze, rather than a goal of these changes.

For the full details on the changes and discussion of the reasoning behind them, please visit:

Thanks - I hope this helps.

-Adrian Scott
Ryze Founder & CEO