Twitter helps Ping be a little more social

Ronny Kerr · November 11, 2010 · Short URL:

New integration adds playable song previews and iTunes Store links to Twitter details pane

Twitter + Ping

Twitter is putting that new right-hand pane to more good use with Thursday morning’s launch of a feature that lets users share iTunes Ping activity directly into the stream.

Ping activity--when a user posts, likes or reviews a song, tells a friend why they bought an album, etc.--now transfers over to the user’s Twitter account, complete with playable song previews and links to the iTunes Store. The extra content (song previews and links) will only appear in Twitter’s details pane, which the site just added in the recent New Twitter redesign.

“Last month, we launched a new version of Twitter that gives users the ability to see embedded photos and videos directly through the details pane," says Carolyn Penner of Twitter’s communication team. "Adding the ability to listen to music previews makes that experience even richer."

Apple launched Ping in September to make iTunes more social, but because it completely lacks Facebook integration and, at the time, only offered unidirectional Twitter integration, the “social” service was laughed off as anything but social.

Before, Ping let users connect their Twitter accounts, but the service would only import tweets. The idea was that you had a brand new platform to follow your favorite music celebrities, like Lady Gaga and Kanye West. But why would we need a whole new platform for thatt?

Twitter now counts 95 million tweets a day, about 10 million more than my estimate from a month ago. The site has nearly doubled the 50 million tweets it was seeing nine months ago.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.