Why have they launched Ping? Friend-powered recommendations are de rigeur these days, from the Levi’s store that enables you to shop for clothes that your friends have liked on Facebook, to the new Vancouver project Recotype. And, obviously, it seems like a good way to get people to buy more music.
I’ve learned not to boldly predict the success or failure of big tech projects. Thus far, I don’t see much value in Ping for me. I don’t think I have a music discovery problem. Nor do I necessarily see my friends as a good source of music that I might like. But we’ll see.
On a related note, Ping feels shockingly unfinished for an Apple project. There was no Facebook integration available when they launched yesterday–surely an important feature for spreading it quickly. Also, there are precious few artists which you can ‘follow’ on the service. I searched for popular acts like Feist, Vampire Weekend or The Killers and came up empty.
Band News, Not Music Discovery
Here’s what I wish Ping could do for me: index my music collection, and generate timely updates via email and RSS featuring news about those artists. When are my favourite bands coming to town? When are they releasing new songs? Where can I find their new video? iLike used to do an acceptable job of this, but they definitely skewed to the bigger, older performers. Maybe another service has comprehensively solved this problem?
This functionality becomes more and more important as we shift to a ‘singles’ music economy, where consumers own songs by many more artists than they used to. It’s possible to keep up with, say, 15 or 20 bands you like, but that doesn’t scale to 50 or 100. Each of those 50 or 100 bands ought to want to have an ongoing relationship with you, and Ping is one place where that could happen. However, I don’t want to use iTunes to get that information, so Apple would have to deliver it in other forms.
First, read about Travis’s odyssey to get an iPhone on Friday. He was tenacious, and it took most of the day, but (despite Rogers’ best efforts) he took one home. Travis cites ten problems with the iPhone launch in Canada:
So yeah, basically, from the biggest, most important factors, to the smallest details, they were simply unpreparedÃ¢â‚¬â€which is bad enoughÃ¢â‚¬â€but they were also dumb about process and shoddy and careless.
Next, read Seth’s post about scarcity and how to handle high demand and low supply:
Imagine what the Apple and AT&T stores would have been like this weekend if they were filled with happy customers who had pre-paid, pre-registered and were just dropping in for three minutes to pick up their (very coveted) phones, walking up the VIP line, past all the others just waiting for a chance to buy one…
Both posts have lots of lessons about how Apple, Rogers, Fido et al could have better managed their iPhone campaign. There’s enough material in the last six months for an MBA thesis.
You know the story–they really dropped the ball from day one. They pretty much made every error possible, from exorbitant initial pricing to promising breakfast to the early birds. Travis reports (at one of Rogers’ six national flagship stores) that “The only food was granola bars at about 10 or 11 a.m., but only enough for about one bar for every three people.” Now that’s some sweet customer service.
Come Back on Monday or Tuesday
As both Travis and Seth more or less point out, why didn’t Rogers just hand out tickets to those in line, like wristbands for a concert? They could easily have predicted excessive demand, and they knew how many phones each store was getting. I can guess why: nobody who works at a Rogers store wants to get up early to go meet and greet the alpha fans that have queued up half the night.
I went into a Fido store in Victoria yesterday, and asked about the ratio of supply to demand. They said they had 26 iPhones, and easily had 100 enquiries on the first day. Then I asked how I could buy one, and they told me to “come back on Monday or Tuesday”. No waiting list, no deposit, no nothing. They genuinely didn’t want to take my money.
If I was Bell Canada or another mobility provider, I’d be offering killer deals over the next few weeks, to try to entice iPhone enthusiasts away. You wouldn’t get the hardcore fanboys, but there would probably be some low-hanging fruit ripe for the picking.
As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, Julie and I have been working on an eBook. Version 1.0 is finally done, and today we’re launching it. It’s called Getting to First Base: A Social Media Marketing Playbook (quite a mouthful, I know), and we’ve created a dedicated website for it at SocialMediaReady.com.
I assembled (“composed” sounds way too sophisticated) the background music in GarageBand. Watching the video again, it feels kind of like a government public service announcement. “Hey kids, don’t do drugs! Do social media marketing instead!”
If you prefer text, the blurb goes something like:
If you’re a marketer in a company, agency or small business, Getting to First Base, A Social Media Marketing Playbook will show you how to market products and services through social media channels like blogs, media-sharing sites and social networks. The book provides tips, tricks and lots of real world case studies, both from our own work and our colleagues.
Social Media Creators, Review the Book
If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTube star or whatever, we’re more than happy to send you a free copy to review. Just email us at email@example.com and we’ll hook you up.
One of the things I struggled with in writing the book was what to call (to borrow Jay Rosen’s phrase) “the people formerly known as the audience”. We sometimes use ‘bloggers’ to stand in for everybody, sometimes use “social media creators”, which is a bit dry, and sometimes used “new influencers”, which is a bit too slick.
In any case, drop us a line and we’ll mainline you a virtual copy.
I owe a ton of friends, colleagues, clients and contributors copies of the book–they’ll be forthcoming in the near future.
Nothing Says Christmas Like Social Media Marketing
If you’re super keen to buy, great! Just visit our buy page and click the pretty red and orange button. Make the marketer or small business owner in your life extra-happy this holiday season. It’s US $29, which works out to a mere CAN $29.23. Plus, we’re donating a dollar from every book to The David Suzuki Foundation.
Other next steps for those who might be interested: