iTunes Ping Social Networking Feature - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

The addition of Apple’s new Ping social networking feature to iTunes has quickly built a formidable online community! When you enable Ping within iTunes, you can interact with both artists and other music lovers in a number of different ways:

  • Follow your favorite artists. Are you a fan of Katy Perry? How about Rascal Flatts? With Ping, you can follow your favorite artists and bands online (without all that tiresome traveling from concert to concert and the repeated arguments with their bodyguards). When performers you follow add a new photo or video, recommend songs or post concert information to Ping, you’ll receive those updates immediately!

  • Follow your friends. You can also choose other Ping music fans to follow, creating your own miniature “music appreciation society”! As with Facebook, you can send messages — but Ping also makes it easy to share your music reviews (and comment on the reviews that others post), and you can recommend your favorite artists to others.

  • Share your playlists. Of course, you’ve already created the perfect party-mix playlist, so why not share that playlist with the world? When you publish a playlist through the iTunes Store, it’s easily shared on Ping as well, and your followers can comment on your choice of The Perfect Opening Song.

To turn Ping on within iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Ping item under the Store heading in the Source list.

  2. Click the large, friendly Turn On Ping button.

    iTunes displays the Apple ID login dialog; if you’ve already purchased items through the iTunes Store, you’re familiar with this dialog and you’ve already created an Apple ID. (If you need to create an Apple ID account, click the Create Account button and enter the required information.)

  3. Type your Apple ID and password and then click Sign In.

    Before you can enter the fray, you need to create your Ping profile, which includes information that will be visible to other Ping users.

  4. Enter your profile information and click Continue.

    You can add a photo of yourself from your hard drive (or take a quick snapshot using iPhoto) by clicking the Add Photo button.

    Whatever you type in the About Me box is visible to the general public, so don’t include your e-mail address, telephone number, or other personal data in your comments!

  5. Choose how iTunes will display your favorite music and click Continue.

    By default, any music you like or buy is displayed within Ping, as well as any music you rate or review. However, you can also choose to manually pick the music Ping displays or even turn off your music display entirely.

  6. Choose your privacy settings.

    If you do allow others to follow you on Ping, make sure you click the Require My Approval to Follow Me check box to enable it. (This way, you can choose who can follow you on Ping.) If you’d rather not be followed at all, click the Don’t Allow People to Follow Me radio button.

  7. Click Done.

The Ping pane within iTunes is similar to the display of recent activity within Facebook, but you can use the links at the right side of the pane to jump directly to your reviews, your favorite artists, or the folks who follow you. Naturally, Apple also allows you to purchase music, movies, and video at every turn, offering direct links from reviews and comments to corresponding items in the iTunes Store.

It’s easy to search for a specific artist or personal profile. Click the People link at the right side of the pane and then click in the Find People search box and type the desired name.

To invite specific people to join you within Ping, click the Invite Friends by Mail link.

Now here’s where things get truly nifty: Choose a track from your iTunes music library that’s offered on the iTunes Store and click the track name in the list. See the Ping menu button that appears? Click it and choose Like or Post, and iTunes automatically updates your Ping profile with your recommendation or comment!

Your followers can listen to a portion of the track and then buy it if they like what they hear. It’s this close integration between iTunes, the iTunes Store, and Ping that excites music fans. Stay tuned as Apple continues to add functionality and new features to Ping.