{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

iTunes adThere are many things digital marketers can learn about customer engagement from Apple. How to launch and sustain your own social network is not one of them. Two months after the launch of Ping, Apple’s music social network is failing to resonate with users. (It's dead in the water, if you ask Fast Company).

What can smaller brands take away from the experience?

Reconsider building your own platform

With the exception of marketers with deep, deep pockets, most companies have abandoned the idea of building their own branded communities. Maintaining a fully-functional social media platform is expensive, and getting users to sign up for one more social tool is more difficult than it seems.

White-label platforms like Ning and KickApps do include tools for growing and sustaining strong communities, but a better option would be to maintain forums, reviews and other social features on an existing Web site.

Supplement those features with tools like Facebook and Twitter, and partner with existing, organic communities in the company’s niche. (An all natural baby food brand, for example, could sponsor content on a forum for “green moms,” or recruit local mommy-bloggers to guest-blog on their corporate site).

Don’t make your branded social network hard to join

If a company is still committed to launching a branded social network, then at least make the sign-up process dead simple. Apple says iTunes Ping attracted more than one million users in the first 48 hours of launch. There haven’t been any new milestones posted since then. (If there were, the company would have announced them). 

With 160 million iTunes users overall, a few million users is barely a blip. The number should be much larger, but Ping is struggling to gain users because the sign-up process is cumbersome. (Let’s not even discuss how buggy and slow iTunes becomes with each new version).

There’s also no real artist community for users to rally around. Apple’s strict control of Ping’s content – artists can’t even post links to their websites in their profiles, for example - has kept the number of artists signed up for the service to just 2,000. Compare that to MySpace with well over eight million artists.

Make sure you connect with other social networks

Finally, make sure that a branded social network is able to plug right into the target market's existing networks. Platforms like Meebo let users aggregate all of their social media contacts into a single dashboard. If a friend doesn't use GChat, for example, Meebo can find them if they're on AIM or Facebook. There are dozens of other tools like this.

Apple’s #pingfail is really driven by the fact that users can’t connect with Facebook, Meebo, or any other social networking platform. A walled garden can keep bad content out, but it also keeps social interactions in and invisible from non-members.

Facebook's member base has continued to surge because non-members can see member interactions and content all across the Web. Apple - and any other company seeking to launch a branded community - must take a page from Facebook's open graph playbook if they're hoping for success.

Tameka Kee

Published 8 November, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at tamekakee.com or follow her on Twitter

49 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Name Tags

I think it is a good call to be connecting with other networks. This is the secret of Social Media and it is frustrating to see companies only getting involved with one form of SM.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Name Tags

I think it is a good call to be connecting with other networks. This is the secret of Social Media and it is frustrating to see companies only getting involved with one form of SM.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Oh Dear

Rumours of Ping's failure are greatly exaggerated, I think you'll find. The weight of your statements doesn't fit your profile.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Luis Antezana

Ping hasn't failed. It's only four months old. It has 2,000 artists in a managed environment, whereas MySpace has eight million hard-to-discover artists, most of them wretchedly bad, posting in a techno slum to a rapidly declining user base. I dare you to spend ten minutes on MySpace and tell me Apple should take its cues from almost any aspect of MySpace's business model or web strategy.

Discovery is key to Ping's success. Most of Ping's artists haven't discovered how powerful the tool can be yet. But most of them don't get up before noon. It's going to take them a while. Apple has eased restrictions on external URLs, too, and has even enabled clickable links in artist feeds.

Most users haven't discovered Ping yet because most users don't self-discover technology. They opt-in when they discover something serves their needs. Without Facebook Connect enabled in Ping the process will be a lot slower. Apple launched Ping with FB Connect but FB disabled it. Negotiations continue and I'll bet it gets added sooner than later. Clearly, as you said in your article, this is the key to Ping's success.

Apple has capitalized on a key element of user behavior in iTunes with Ping: focused attention mode. We all have different needs to fulfill at various times on the web and we conduct ourselves differently according to each. I am a different person with different needs depending on if I am in work mode or social mode or music mode. iTunes and Ping allow me to absorb into a music mode where I can hear directly from artists I care about, hear their music, find out more about them, and find more like them. I don't have to have my feed interrupted by family or co-worker posts like in Facebook. This is extremely powerful to the social experience for users and providers alike, and will bring great benefits to both once more thoroughly exploited.

I need to blog about this…

P.S. The Ping sign-up process is cumbersome? Please describe which part of clicking on a confirmation button in iTunes is difficult, because it could not be more easy.

over 5 years ago

Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee, Writer/Analyst at Econsultancy

Luis: I'll gladly read your blog post! Feel free to link to it once it's up. I'll note that the point of this post was to show marketers that even a mega-brand like Apple faces serious hurdles when trying to launch its own branded social network - and to hopefully give them some pointers on what to avoid.

That said, you made some good counter-arguments, especially about Apple being able to reach users while in "music mode." The problem is, the company seems to be inhibiting itself from capitalizing on that mode - in true Apple fashion - by trying to control the environment too much. Would love to read your thoughts on how Apple can get beyond that, and really harness that focused attention.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Yvgene

#econsultancy fail - very myopic take on Ping.  Let's wait and see what happens - Steve Jobs makes mistakes, that's for sure, but he learns from them.  Whether or not Ping is end game, the Apple engineers will come out with something bigger and better.  (you think the iPod happened on the first crack?)

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Steve Grant

Re: Myspace bands are mainly terrible. This is a ridiculous assertion based on a misapprehension of value in this sector. Firstly: Is google judged badly because the majority of the web is poorly formatted nonsense? No, google succeeds by giving us a means of filtering ALL the crap to reveal new treasures. Secondly: what constitutes new treasures? That's utterly subjective, so to provide a good service to a large and varied audience the content resources must be huge. That's where value lies in the music industry : Finding new and varied treasures. This is where Ping currently fails, hard. I don't need to discover lady gaga, thanks.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Luis Antezana

@Steve

1. Comparing Google and MySpace is an odd analogy, since one provides an efficient and useful way to find information on external sites and the other is a host of its own information (and provides an unexceptional interface to discover it).

2. Yes, "new treasures" is obviously subjective, That's why using Ping to follow your friends, strangers, and artists you like, and to try out the things they're trying and recommending creates such a self-defined personal experience. This provides the value of finding new and varied treasures you describe. You're confusing the (currently) small number of artists and participants on Ping with the vast wealth of artists in the iTunes store.

Yeah, Gaga is one of the 2,000 artists on Ping, but you don't go to Ping only to discover the artists who are on Ping, you go there to see what everyone is saying about music. Just this week I have picked up several exceptional song and album recommendations I'd never heard of from a guy I follow simply because he also follows an artist on Ping that I follow and I noticed he likes some of the same bands I do. This is the social interconnection I would think Apple imagined in creating Ping, and one that is readily available to anyone who uses it.

@Tameka

Some people see Apple as being restrictive in their prescription for how artists can use Ping. Aside from the fact that I'd like to hear from those who have actually read that entire document so we can debate how restrictive it really is, I'd like to point out that Ping will most certainly be a living mutable thing over time, much as Apple's App Store guidelines have changed to accommodate developer requests and the changing app market. It's just version 1.0, my friends.

If I ever get around to creating my first blog post it'll probably just be regurgitating my comments here, but I'll post back anyway. And if anybody wants to follow me on Ping, my profile is open, so have at it. Thanks!

over 5 years ago

Luis Antezana

Luis Antezana, Director of Communications at AAF Seattle

Just to update: The game has changed now that MySpace has released their site redesign, announced a new focus on entertainment, and, as of today, has integration with Facebook Connect and extended social graph linking functionalities through Likes. All this equals more discovery and better funneling users toward a focused purpose. Very wise of MySpace.

This definitely changes my arguments, maligning MySpace. It doesn't change my defense of Ping, but it does underscore everyone's point that it needs more connectivity to thrive.

On the plus side for Ping, I have noticed more traffic from both artists and users lately, both in signups and in participation.

over 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.