The last week or so has seen a flurry of talk on Twitter about a new micro-messaging site called Plurk. Plurk lets you leave 140-ish character messages to friends, so it immediately garnered comparisions to Twitter. It's quirky timeline UI and odd graphics (headless animals?!?) makes it a clear contrast to Twitter, whose animals all have their appropriate body parts.
Two things I have noticed after using Plurk for the last week:
1 - Almost everyone HATES it when they first use it.
2 - The people that keep using it anyway usually find that they like Plurk once they get a hang of the UI and functionality.
So which site is better? Which one wins? Will Plurk be the competitor that finally 'kills' Twitter?
All of these questions are the wrong ones to ask. Plurk offers a different experience than Twitter. And whereas Twitter is aimed at adults, Plurk's graphics and UI is more aimed at teens. But its environment encourages adults to act like teens. This creates a very open and fun experience.
What Plurk has done is keep the 140/160 character limit that's the backbone of micro-messaging competitors such as Twitter and Pownce, but has created a completely unique interface and branding. If you are a fan of micro-messaging/blogging, you should welcome this because Plurk is pushing the boundaries of the space. Now the next competitor in this space is more likely to keep the 140-ish character format, but offer an even different experience aimed at a different market.
But what does all this mean to you? Is Plurk worth your time?
The thing I love about Twitter is that it's a place where you have fun, but that you can also network and see professional gains as well. Plurk is a place where we can all 'let our hair down' (hit-tip @BethHarte), and is sorta the Happy Hour version of Twitter.
But that also means it has the potential to become a huge time sink with little to show for those hours other than a lot of fun. Which is fine, but it definitely means you might have to balance the time you spend there.
As with everything else concerning Plurk, your mileage may vary. I think it's a great little micro-messaging site and a load of fun. Give it a few days and see what you think. But again, don't just visit it once and never come back, because you likely WILL hate the layout the first time you see it, especially if you are a fan of Twitter.
Here's some additional tips to help you navigate Plurkville:
1 - The timeline shows the most recent plurks (messages left on Plurk) at the left. As new ones show up, the older ones are pushed further to the right.
2 - Read a plurk by mousing over it. If you want to reply to it, simply click on it and a drop-down menu pops up where you can leave your reply. Here is the beauty of Plurk, as conversations are organized beneath each plurk! And if you want to keep up with just one conversation (as the plurk you are replying to will continue to move to the right of the timeline, making it harder to keep up with), on the drop-down menu for the plurk, click 'Plurk page'. This gives the conversation its own page in a format that's very similar to Twitter. Hat-tip to Connie Reece for discovering this!
3 - You can set which plurks are seen on your timeline. You can watch only those you have left, private ones left for you, and those left by you and your friends. Do this by clicking the drop-down menu on the right side of the bottom of the screen. You can also select the day you want to watch.
4 - If you mouse over a person's name, an arrow pops up, leading to a drop-down menu that lets you leave the user a private plurk, view their profile, or view their friends.
5 - If you absolutely hate the plurk interface and are ready to run screaming back to Twitter, try out the mobile version of Plurk, it's closer to what you are familiar with from Twitter.
But give Plurk a shot before you dismiss it. And how can you not love the error page that Plurk showed a few lucky users? Hat-tip to Sonny Gill.
UPDATE: As an interesting aside, as soon as this post went live, I posted a link to it on both Plurk and Twitter. In the next 30 mins, I got 9 traffic referrals from Plurk, 8 from Twitter. But I only have 137 people following me on Plurk, and almost 10 times that (1,366) following me on Twitter. Not sure what that proves, but I think it's interesting.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing