Announcing App.net Broadcast

broadcast-pressIt’s a noisy world out there. Important news posted to social networks is only seen by a small percentage of the folks who want to receive it. It’s an unfortunate situation for both publishers and subscribers.

Push notifications are a powerful tool for sending and receiving important messages, but the high costs of developing and distributing an application make it beyond the reach of most.

That’s why we are releasing a new feature: Broadcast. Broadcast makes it easy for anyone to publish and subscribe to push notification “Broadcast Channels” for free.

What is a “Broadcast”?

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A Broadcast is a new type of message that is always received as a push notification. A user only receives a Broadcast when they have explicitly subscribed to a Broadcast Channel. No “promoted content”, no black box algorithms, just a simple way to subscribe to valuable information that might otherwise get missed in a busy feed or overloaded inbox.

A Broadcast is more expressive than just a simple push notification: when a subscriber opens a Broadcast, they will see content that is determined by the publisher. Broadcasts can be composed with a photo, an animated GIF, additional text/links, geographic information, as well as a “Read More” link that takes the user to a URL of the publisher’s choosing.

Subscribing to Broadcasts is not the same as following a feed. A publisher first needs to create a new Broadcast Channel (a single App.net account can create multiple Channels). Once the Broadcast Channel is created, the publisher can share it with their audience, as well as embed a subscribe button anywhere on the web. Anyone who wants to subscribe will receive real-time push notifications each time the publisher sends a Broadcast.

A good Broadcast Channel will send at most 1-2 Broadcasts per day, and most likely even fewer. A successful Broadcast publisher will only publish the most important and high value messages to their subscribers. Just like an email list, subscribers can easily unsubscribe and will have a very low tolerance for noise. Hooking up a high volume RSS feed, or replicating the same content from a Twitter or Facebook page is far too noisy for anyone to want to receive in the form of push notifications.

Who is Broadcast good for?

  • Bands letting fans know about tickets on sale, album releases, surprise shows, etc.2013-11-12 17.05.35
  • Public safety messages, severe weather, etc.
  • Podcasters letting their audience know when they are recording live, and when new episodes are available
  • Internet publishers who publish on a low-volume, sporadic schedule. For instance internet comics, part-time bloggers, analysts, etc.
  • App developers letting folks know when new versions are released (which may be missed due to new auto-update features)
  • Anyone running a crowdfunding or grassroots campaign who needs a realtime way to mobilize their supporters
  • Companies running mission critical services that want to let folks know about scheduled or unscheduled downtime
  • Coordinating a large group of people for parties, meetups, festivals, conferences. Imagine if you had a last minute change of schedule or venue; you’d want to make sure people on their way don’t miss the message.

The advantage of Broadcast is that the publisher knows their subscribers will see their message as a push notification and can take action in real time.

How do I use Broadcast?

There are several ways to publish Broadcasts:

To receive Broadcasts, a subscriber needs only to download the free App.net app for iOS or Android.

There is a directory of Broadcast Channels available. This is meant to aid in discovery and give subscribers an idea of how frequently each Channel sends Broadcasts.  Subscribe and unsubscribe will always be one simple tap, so that you are never stuck receiving push notifications you no longer want to see.

Broadcast and the goals of App.net

broadcast-icon-largeAt the heart of our company values is the principle that that our users are our customers, and everything we do must put them first. With Broadcast, users are completely in control: a person will receive exactly what they subscribed to, no more and no less. App.net is functioning as the “pipes” connecting publishers with subscribers.

In terms of business model, all of the Broadcast features released today are free and will remain that way. Our goal is for the benefits of Broadcast to be available to everyone. We plan on offering additional Broadcast features for paid accounts, including advanced analytics and publishing tools.

We look forward to the developer ecosystem integrating Broadcast features into existing and new apps. Broadcast is a great example of a novel experience created with the App.net platform, as well as a crisp and simple reason for the average person to want an App.net account.

The App.net team has enjoyed creating and testing out Broadcast, and we hope you enjoy it too!

Dalton