Monday, October 18, 2010

The New Ping Guidelines

To say that iTunes Ping has been underwhelming is an understatement. The new social feature seems like such a great idea, but also seems like it was released somewhat before it's time. In fact, one of the major problems has been the difficulty for indie bands to set up a profile, which significantly decreases its immediate social impact.

Thankfully Apple has reached the same conclusion and has come out with a PDF that contains a series of best practices, suggestions and guidelines to smooth the process considerably. I must admit that after reading the paper, it seemed like it contained some necessary information but didn't go quite as far as I expected.

It also had a number of interesting items that caught my eye. The following are right out of the PDF with my comments in italics afterwards.

• "URLs should not be included in the About section of your artist profile. This includes official artist
website URLs. URLs can only be posted in the Event feed." You mean you can't post a URL of your website, blog, or Facebook page? Apple again keeps everything tight and controlled, but in this case it's not such a good thing.

• "Video posts will not display in countries where the product is not available for sale, or where videos are not offered through the iTunes Store." In other words, Ping is a social network that's not available world-wide. This would make me think about spending more time on other social networks that would provide more bang for the buck instead of Ping.

• "Only Quicktime and MP4 files." Windows Media is not allowed, although that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, considering the animosity between Apple and Microsoft.

• "Posts should not include advertisements or links to sites outside of iTunes." The advertisements I agree with, but again, not being able to include links to an artists website, Facebook page or blog is a serious limitation.

It's still too early to known just how effective Ping will be in helping a band increase its visibility and build its fan base. But as it stands now, it seems like there are better places to spend your precious time more effectively.

It's recently been reported that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg had dinner at Steve Jobs' house. Perhaps Jobs will learn something from the meeting that can make Ping a lot stronger product.

Go here to download the Ping Guidelines.

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