This was written by my good friend, Heidi Cool, and a FABULOUS read!
Something interesting happened last Sunday. Plurk, a new social network, grew it’s subscriber base from a handful of beta users to over 2,000 in one day. Since then they’ve continued to grow exponentially. As a marketer, and one of the 2,000+, I think it’s been a fascinating process to watch. In this one week we’ve seen some very effective marketing strategies in action. Back in March I shared my reflections on social media networking and marketing, but that was more a tale of slow growth. Plurk’s rapid growth gives us a chance to look at some of the techniques they used and see how effective they can be.
Social media marketing, like other forms of viral marketing, depends on getting your customer base to help market your product or service by spreading the word among their friends. But, as with any type of marketing campaign, it helps to have a good product and a keen understanding of your target market. Plurk has both (you can learn more about the service in the Plurk resources list at the end of this entry).
Attract the attention of the media & influential users in your target audience.
Plurk did both by attracting the attention of Leo Laporte, who is both a popular technology journalist and a very active social media user—as is of this writing Leo is the most followed person on Twitter with over 41,418 followers. Last Sunday, Leo sent Plurk invitations out to his friends and followers on Twitter and Pownce and spread the word through his various media enterprises such as TWiT.TV.
When I saw the invitation last Sunday I paused briefly and asked myself, “Do I really need to go experiment with yet another social media service?” The fact that it came from Leo Laporte—rather than someone with less credibility—influenced my decision. New services pop up all the time, but if Leo had singled it out, it was probably worth exploring. So I clicked the link and there I was on Plurk.
Make it easy and compelling for new users to invite more new users.
Social networks are only interesting if you know other people, hence the term: social. After spending a few minutes exploring the service it was time to acquire more friends. In this world the best way to do that is to recruit the friends you have on other social media sites. These early adopters are more likely to play with the new toys than are your friends from the real world.
Plurk made this very easy. In addition to providing the usual “invite the friends from your e-mail address book” interface, they also provide an invitation link that you can post on your blog or other social networks. I posted mine on Pownce and FriendFeed and people started joining up. Others on Pownce and Twitter did so too. Within hours Plurk was switching servers to handle the load. (If you would like to join in the fun, here is your invitation to join us on Plurk.)
Keep them coming back for more.
Social media users aren’t so much fickle as they are demanding. With so many services available, and only limited time to use them, most users stick with the 1-3 services that help them with their own goals and productivity. If a service like Plurk offers more useful features it may draw some of the crowd away from others that are lacking such features or that experience a lot of downtime.
For users to understand these features you have to get them involved fast and early—and keep them coming back for more. In doing so you will create a usage habit.
After reaching 25 Karma points I was able
to upgrade from the “rabid dog” to the
The Plurk team understood this from the start. They’ve included a feature called Karma that induces people to Plurk actively—and often—to accumulate Karma points. By inviting more friends and posting messages users can reach certain Karma levels that give them additional features such as the ability to pick from more choices of Plurk mascot creatures (curious critters that sit on your home stream) or additional emoticons one can include in posts.
While these features aren’t necessary to the Plurk experience, they do make it more fun. The goal of accumulating Karma also taps into the competitive streak of social media users—many of whom actively try to get their stories on the front page of Digg, acquire the most followers on Twitter, and so forth. Already I’ve seen numerous posts from users comparing Karma points.
In the right market, social media marketing—in combination with a useful product, site or service—can be very effective. While I don’t know how many users are on Plurk as of today, Alexa rankings show that their page rank has gone up by 619,776 in the past three months, while the percentage of global Internet users on the service increased by 2,490%.
Will this growth continue? Who knows? Perhaps in three months time we’ll all be using some other cool service with a funny name, but for now Plurk’s marketing efforts seem right on track.
- Plurk: It’s Like Twitter, but Newer
- Plurk: Press/Media/Plurkalicious Goodness
- Plurk & Twitter: Two Very Different Communities
- Plurk takes on Twitter, Pownce
- Plurk: Unique or Just Another Twitter Clone?
- Top 10 Plurk Users Statistics—What’s the Karma Algorithm
- What is Plurk?
Social Media & Marketing Resources
- How to Avoid Marketing to Yourself
- Micro-blogging a hit with Web 2.0 crowd
- PR Tips for Startups – The Director’s Cut
- Social Media Today
- Videos: When Social Media enters Popular Culture
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