Whenever I hear about a new social network I want to jump on it immediately and test the waters, so that’s what I did this morning after hearing the buzz about Apple’s newest venture, Ping. First off I have to thank an employee of Dragonsearch , Clayton Walter for letting me hi-jack his iTunes account for my research.
The Ping profile setup is pretty typical. You are also given the options to allow people to follow your activity, request your permission to follow, or just keep your activity completely private from Ping users. Once you’re all set up you are brought to the welcome page (ex.1). Here, as you can see, you are recommended artists (1-1)and people (1-2) you can “follow” which is kind of like Twitter’s follow recommendation sidebar, except Ping splits it into two categories and puts it right in your face. It’s a good start page for any newbie. Since I was new to this, I decided to follow a couple of recommendations made by Ping. In this case I followed Rick Rubin from the people category (my decision) and “Coldplay” from the artist category (my decision on Clayton’s behalf). The people you have chosen to follow will also appear in your feed.
In this second example you can see how Ping incorporates a Facebook style feed. Here you can view the activity of the people and artists you follow. Mr.Ruben has decided to “like” an album. Albums can be purchased through the iTunes store. You can post or like the album for it to show up in your feed as well. You also have the option to review an album, which will also show up in your feed.
Unlike Facebook you don’t have to be someone’s friend to drop a comment on their activity. You just “follow” them. Unfortunately you can’t drop links into comments. As you can see in (2-1) someone has already tried to do this and it only appears as text. I’m not saying it’s pointless but it’s not convenient. If you look to the upper right hand corner of the comment (2-2) you will see you have the option to “like” or “post”. The “post” option is pretty much the same thing as Facebook’s “share” option. In (2-3) we see that Rick is attending an event. Just like Facebook, it shows up in our feed. Here you are given the option to attend the event and buy tickets to the event.
From what I can tell, Ping borrows some Twitter and Facebook characteristics and wraps it around the iTunes store. It’s a social network based on your purchases or soon to be made purchases. It’s more of a push for music sales rather than socializing. I downloaded a podcast to see if it would pop into my activity feed which it did not. I was hoping it did, because it would have added an increment of more value to this social network. What if I wanted my friends to know about the podcasts I follow? Maybe it didn’t show up in my feed because it was a free podcast and not an iTunes purchase ;) This is great for musicians pushing record sales but I’m unsure about it as a social network. As far as marketing goes, Ping is worth keeping an eye on just in case Apple adds more content or capabilities. Right now it’s still in its infancy,and although it can mimic Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, it has a while to go before it can play with the big boys.