Thursday, June 26, 2008

So can businesses use Plurk?

Ever since Plurk 'suddenly' burst on the scene earlier this month, there's been debate over what value the site has. Obviously, it has a ton of 'fun' value for those of us that are almost addicted to the quirky site and the community of friends and users that we constantly bump into.

But for many of us that are looking at Plurk through a social media consultant's eyes, we have wondered if we could validate recommending Plurk to our clients? Simply put, is there value for businesses in being on Plurk?

For a while, I thought that, at least for now, Plurk didn't offer as much professional and business opportunities as its much bigger brother, Twitter did. But then I started to watch how Tim Jackson was using Plurk. I'd seen Tim use Twitter sparingly for the past few months, occasionally popping in for a few tweets, then disappearing for another week or so.

But with Plurk, Tim has dived in. He's constantly on the site, and it's clear that his popularity among Plurk users is skyrocketing. What I think is also happening is that as Tim becomes more popular, the affection the Plurk community has for him, bleeds over into positive feelings for Masi, his employer.

Often times Tim will mention on Plurk that he's working on a new post with pictures of Masi bikes. The response from Plurk users is to say that they can't wait to see the pics, and then they immediately go to his blog and comment as soon as he publishes the post. Other users have begun seeking him out for advice on what type of bike they should buy. I've even seen him promote a competitor's line.

The end result is that Tim, by being Tim, has established himself as a valuable member of the Plurk community. And he's also won the trust of his fellow members, and in the social media space, you cannot put a price on that. Tim is tapping into the ease of communication that Plurk's format gives, and is using it to create and build connections with other people.

And a byproduct of his growing influence on Plurk is that Masi's exposure grows. The fondness and trust that we have for Tim, likely begins to transfer to Masi.

Which is, of course, the beauty of social media. It's not about how you can use these tools to immediately impact your bottom line. It's not about how can you 'game' this space. It's about being authentic and understanding that IF you use these tools as we do, and for the same reasons as we do, that business growth WILL be a BYPRODUCT of your time spent in this space.

The question I'm wondering is, if you become a friend/fan of someone like Tim on a social site like Plurk, does that make you more or less likely to also feel better about their employer?

UPDATE: Per CallKathy's request, here's a link to Tim's Plurk profile so can get an idea of how he uses Plurk, and follow him (or laugh at his thumb).


Kathy Jacobs (CallKathy) said...

Whether or not I become a fan of a company has more to do with whether I like the products they produce. Social media apps like Plurk let me quickly and easily find out what others think and feel about the products. SO, for me, the answer is yes - someone from a company being active on Plurk would be a definite benefit.

Unknown said...

I think that plurk (even though I really do detest its interface) can give more of that "human face" to a company.

That's what people who are in social media sites want - to interact with real people. Tim's doing just that and that's what is building his own inter-community within Plurk that is bleeding over to Masi.

The trouble that businesses will have with this, is dedicating one person to be their spokesperson. Plurk is a lot more intensive than Twitter - it needs more monitoring. right now there's no "Thwirl" or "twitterfox" and you can't easily monitory just your replies or DM's, you HAVE to be there. For some companies that isn't an option.

For those that can find the resources to dedicate to Plurk, I believe they can make other successes just like Tim has.

Herb said...

Good article. Yes, I think there's a definite correlation between the two. If you like/trust a person, there's likely to be some transference to the things s/he likes and trusts. If Tim is very positive about his employer, he can easily become an influencer and recommender to those following him.

Unknown said...

If you KLT (Know/Like/Trust) someone, their employer becomes "cool by association". But this only happens if the person in question is "happily employed" (as in "happily married!)

fcmartin3rd said...

If I develop any sort of relationship with a person, it can and will affect my opinion of his business or employer.

I do think the degree to which this is true may be affected by how familiar I am with that business, and how much I like or hate them already.

Mack Collier said...

Guys thanks for commenting, and please keep them coming!

Herb you made an interesting comment, you said "If Tim is very positive about his employer, he can easily become an influencer and recommender to those following him."

In fact, Tim is pretty hands-off about promoting Masi, IMO. For example, someone asked him for a bike recommendation, and instead of immediately suggesting a Masi model, he instead started asking how they planned on using the bike, and instead suggested that they go to a local bike store and see which type of bike they were most comfortable on.

I *think* this 'hands-off' approach makes it easier for others to trust Tim, and as a result, that trust bleeds over to Masi, since they are employing him.

Again, that's what I think. Which is why I wanted to ask you guys, to see what you thought.

Herb said...

Mack, good point. If he were overtly "salesy" then I think it would backfire. The hands-off, objective approach helps with the credibility and transference, IMO. What I've noticed is that he gets very excited about the products but, you're right, he doesn't specifically pimp the company. Seems effective to me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Li about Plurk needing more monitoring than Twitter. Businesses need the resources to devote the time. Ditto on thoughts from everyone else. There's definitely a learning curve and the more you use it the easier it gets-except for the time-involvement issue.

Amber Naslund said...

I agree that Plurk is somewhat labor intensive (and addictive), which could be a detractor for a company without the resources (and open mind) to let their people spend time there.

For small biz, however, and solopreneurs like me, it's great. Why?

I link to my blog posts usually a couple of times - once in the day and once at night. Not spammy crap (I hope), just hoping to catch a few new eyes.

As a result, I've nearly doubled my subscriptions to my blog, and had two new business leads come in because they went from plurk to my blog to me.

I think any SM platform can be a viable tool for any business provided you adhere to the unwritten rules of participation, respect, and honesty. "Gaming" the system is a surefire way for people to ignore you, or worse, talk trash.

Anonymous said...

Mack, great post. I think that yes, when someone like Tim uses Plurk, it does give you a better feeling about the employer (assuming the person is great, like Tim). Hopefully, that person is also a true representation of the company. But because you're conversing with (or lurking) the person, engaging in/getting interested in what they're doing, they (and in turn, the company they work for) become a part of your circle of trust. You trust them, (we trust Tim), so we also trust the company (esp. for people who are new to the company).

kmunse said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Plurk and how Tim has used it. From the perspective of someone who never knew Tim until Plurk, I think the reason for his popularity is due to the fact that Plurk is a great platform to play and be yourself. Tim started out genuinely having fun and the party started from there. Now he is able to throw in business every now and again as a means to keep us all posted as to what he has been up to but essentially Plurk is about the relationships, and he was able to build those first before promoting a business and that---is the essence of social networking.

I Can't Keep Up said...

I think any time you get authentic enthusiasm and knowledge about a product it is going to leave a very positive impression on me. And that will be deepend by spokespersons being sincere enough to recommend something even if it's not his own product. That demonstrates a commitment to doing best for the customer, not just for the company.

Amber said...

One more thought at risk of being a dork: Tim brings an element to Plurk that I think is so important to any of these interactive SM tools. Personality.

He doesn't take himself too seriously and he's genuinely interested in building relationships with people and making friends. A company can succeed by using something like Plurk, but only if they retain the human element that makes people want to have a chat with them in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I feel there is definitely the possibility depending on how big of an evangelist said user is. When you have a powerful voice speaking on a company/product, the opportunity to build word-of-mouth from that is great.

Mack Collier said...

Great comments everyone, thanks so much! This pretty much confirms what I've thought for a while, that an employee that's active in a community online, helps others feel better about his employee. I think it's important to get this 'out in the open', because many companies are hesitant to use social media, until they can trace the immediate benefits back to the bottom line.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), that's not how social media works. You have to GIVE value in order to later receive value back. Sounds completely counterintuitive to many businesses that want to get something up front.

Doesn't work that way, and until companies start approaching social media and using it the same way Tim is, their efforts won't be nearly as successful as they could be.

Rose DesRochers said...

I joined plurk today and I don't really see the point in it, but then I'm not on twitter much either.

Anonymous said...

I try not to let my friendship with Tim adversely affect my views of his employer. I mean. They shouldn't be held responsible, should they? He was who he was LONG before they hired his ass. But hey. ;) ;) ;)

Anonymous said...

I just joined Plurk and Twitter. I am going to see if participating will drive traffic to my personal blog. If it does, I will further explore using it at my employer. (if I receive any fantastic results I will be sure to stop back and leave another comment) Thanks for the post!