Apple says that more than one million users joined their new music-focused social network Ping in the 48 hours following its launch. I find that hard to believe. I do believe that people will flock like seagulls on a chip bag to a hot new social media site even though they can’t keep up with the ones they’re already on. I do believe that people will jump at the idea of a music-based network (take that Myspace!) especially one brought to you buy the maker of the iPod.
What I have trouble with is the fact that when I sign on to Ping, I can’t find more than twenty people using the site. Those that I did find were all in the music biz. What gives?
When you first log on, Ping has a Facebook appearance but once you start mucking around it’s not very user friendly. For the network to have any meaning, you have to have followers and followees but short of searching the name of everyone I know, there’s no way to find people you want to connect with. I understand that Ping was planning on having a Facebook connect option but Facebook did an about-face before launch.
On a purely visual level, the Ping window doesn’t fit on my screen, even after I resize the sidebar as far as it will go. The far right, which is where the tools are, is cut off unless I scroll over and that’s just not going to happen. I’m not missing anything important, but it’s annoying.
What’s even more annoying is the fact that Ping is part of iTunes, not the web. I don’t open iTunes every day, and I guess, that’s behavior Apple wants to change. Still, there’s no doubt that I would “Ping” more often if I could do it from the web.
The biggest problem is you can’t DO anything other than promote sales. Now, here’s where I tread lightly, because this is a blog for marketers. As I moved around the site, I found that all of the status updates were notations of cds bought or reviews, both of which came with a prominent buy this button next to the CD graphic. Most lines had little or no additional information so it was like looking at someone’s wish list or shopping cart.
I understand that artists can add other updates to their pages, but the average user can’t. Where’s the “social” in this social media site? I assumed I’d be able to leave comments about my favorite artists, click on a song to “like” it, and easily locate other fans of the same song so we can connect. If that functionality is there then it’s well hidden.
And who decided to call it Ping? That’s not a sound I associate with music. Why not Sing or Zing?
I wish I had come in here to say what a great new marketing space Ping is for anyone in the music industry but right now, not so much. Will that change in the near future? I think it will. Fortune has a great article with their thoughts on how Ping can be saved and it includes links to some of the best rants written so far. If Apple listens to what’s being said and makes some major changes in the next month, then marketers might hear ka-ching instead of feeling the sting when they join up with Ping.