Plurk can be thought of as a Twitter alternative - a form of social media that encourages short-form updates. If you are a business or brand, you might be wondering if it makes sense to have a presence on Plurk. It's not for every brand due to its relatively low level of interactivity - in fact, I'd recommend it only for a rather narrow use case, which I'll describe below in a bit more detail. I also cover some important do's and don'ts if you're planning any kind of business presence on Plurk because you can easily run into problems if you treat it exactly the same way as you would Twitter.
I've been on Plurk for over a year as an individual, and for a somewhat shorter time as a brand, so I have some experience with this form of social media.
First let's quickly cover a little bit about Plurk.
What is Plurk?
Plurk is a free social media service which lets users post updates of 360 characters or less. It can be used via browser on a computer or via Android or iPhone apps. When comparing to the tech giants' social networks, Plurk most closely resembles Twitter. However, while Plurk has some strong similarities to Twitter, there are some important differences too.
Similarities to Twitter
- Posts, also known as plurks, consist of short-form updates
- You can replurk someone's Plurk (similar to retweeting)
- You can respond to someone's Plurk via comment
- Hashtags work the same way as in all other major social media
- Plurk is available in all major languages
- You can follow people on Plurk and they can follow you (however - this is done via friends and fans, I describe this below - somewhat different to Twitter)
- Sharing of articles, blog posts etc work similarly on Plurk as they do on Twitter
Differences from Twitter
- Plurk has much less users than Twitter and because of this, is less interactive. The overall experience is very different
- Instead of followers, you have fans or friends. Anyone can be a fan of anyone - it's a lot like following someone on Twitter. Friends are different and you can't just be friends with anyone. If you click to friend someone, Plurk sends them a friend request and if the person accepts, you are friends. So a friend is a two-way street, whereas a fan can be one way
- There is a karma system on Plurk, where you earn karma for posting consistently
- You have the ability to edit plurks - ideal when you make a typo
- A slightly longer character length is allowed in Plurk (360 characters) versus 280 in Twitter
- Plurk etiquette is very different from that on Twitter - I explain this more further along
Why should a business be on Plurk?
As I mentioned at the start, Plurk is not really going to be a great fit for many businesses due to the fact that you'll get less interaction compared to most other social media; however it does have a distinct set of advantages that may fit your use case.
I would not recommend Plurk as a substitute for other social media, but rather as an addition to those.
As you'll see below, it doesn't take much time to handle a brand presence on Plurk since you can cross-post to Twitter from there (a two for one!) and since it's less interactive, it's not time-consuming at all.
Advantages of Plurk for brands
- A clean platform. My overall experiences on Plurk versus on Twitter is that Plurk is much more safe for work than Twitter. Of course, this is in part due having less interactions on it. But a major advantage is that Plurk is quite clean and you're unlikely to run into reputational risks from using it. For example, you may not wish to have a brand presence on places that tend towards negative speech, such as Reddit or 4Chan, but Plurk is a safe place for a brand.
- Ability to schedule your plurks ahead of time by buying Plurk Coin. Plurk Coin is very cheap and does not require an ongoing subscription. If your account owns any Plurk Coin, you are able to schedule your plurks ahead of time. Once your Plurk Coin is used up, you cannot schedule any more plurks ahead of time but any previously scheduled plurks will continue to go ahead as normal. It's a pretty good deal all in all, and one I'm thinking of using. You can find out more about Plurk Coin here.
- NOT a "walled garden" - search engines can crawl it. Even someone without a Plurk account can use the search box on Plurk's home page, and search engines can also crawl the things that have been posted on Plurk. This adds up to more exposure for your brand.
- Ability to cross-post to Twitter. From inside your Plurk account, you can post the same update simultaneously to Plurk and Twitter.
- Ability to embed a timeline in your website of your recent plurks - very similar to Twitter
- The lack of interactivity means it takes very little time to use Plurk
- The karma system is a natural fit for brands rather than for individuals. Before my brand account, when I was plurking as an individual, the karma system felt annoying. I just didn't have a whole lot of things I felt I wanted to plurk about. So keeping up a karma score by plurking on a regular schedule was frustrating as an individual. However, it was a different story as a brand. As a brand, I wanted to post daily updates on what my business was doing, so I had no problems increasing my karma score without even really trying.
Disadvantages of Plurk for brands
- Very little interaction. There are not as many users on Plurk as there are on Twitter for example, and those that are there tend not to interact with individuals or brands that they do not already know. Therefore, comparatively few people will see your plurks.
- Is unfamiliar and therefore less meaningful to some people. For example, if your brand wants to do a collaboration with another brand and you want to post an update about that, the other brand is more likely to see a tweet as meaningful but less likely to see a plurk as having any impact.
A recommended use case
My brand is firmly in a recommended use case for Plurk, but as I said, it's a rather narrow use case. Businesses using Plurk will benefit from it if they are:
- using Plurk as an additional social media for their brand, not the main one
- using Plurk as a source of brand updates that they can then embed on their blog (e.g. "Latest plurks / latest updates") as they would for Twitter
- using Plurk as a source of exposure to external search engines, which isn't the case in "walled garden" setups of most other social media
- accepting that few interactions are likely to result on Plurk (although the ability to cross post to Twitter gives you a two-for-one setup timewise).
You can think about whether it makes sense for your brand to be on Plurk, but for now let's move on and look at how your brand should act if you decide to put it on Plurk.
Plurk etiquette for brands
If you're thinking of going ahead with Plurk for your business or brand, here are some etiquette tips. I started off trying to use it as I would Twitter, and as a brand this was not the best approach. Firstly, think of Plurk as "insular". Assume people are less likely to want to interact with you, even if you think you're being helpful, funny, and/or complimentary.
Avoid replurking or interacting unless you are certain it will go over well
When on Plurk as a brand, I saw someone's plurk that was relatable and innocuous, something about time differences, and I replurked it. I then received a polite request from that person not to replurk their stuff. I apologized and un-replurked it (that works the same way as un-retweeting in Twitter). I was flabbergasted initially, because on Twitter it is generally considered a compliment when someone, even a brand, retweets something you said. But on Plurk, the culture is different and not everyone is going to see it that way, especially if you're a brand and not an individual. Even in my time before my brand account, as just an individual on Plurk, I often tried interacting and commenting to other people whose plurks I could relate to, and almost no-one responded.
The take-home message is that people are insular on Plurk and they're not likely to interact with even individuals they don't already know, and they're going to be even less receptive to brands they don't have an existing relationship with.
Posting only your own stuff is considered perfectly OK
On Twitter, posting only your own updates and own blog posts is often considered selfish. You're expected to also retweet or interact with other people's stuff. (This also takes time to do.) But on Plurk, posting your own stuff is considered just fine, no-one will think your brand selfish if you do that.
The benefits of Plurk etiquette
In an odd way, you're rewarded by the lack of interactivity on Plurk and for going along with that culture - you can just get in, plurk your own stuff, and get out again. It saves you a lot of time and certainly helps your personal mental health to have a place for your brand on social media like Plurk where you can do this and it would be considered appropriate.
Your Plurk profile also helpfully winds up with a relatively clean, brand-centric list of posts which are perfect for embedding in the footer of your website or blog as a source of your latest updates (there's a widget you can get for that in your Plurk profile). By contrast, your Twitter latest updates will also contain your retweets of other people's stuff, which may dilute out your own updates more than is desirable when embedded in your website.
The final conclusion
Plurk is not going to be a great alternative for Twitter for most businesses, but there is a use case for which Plurk is going to be good for certain brands, as outlined above.
It's important to be aware that for the average brand, Plurk may be worth it as an additional form of social media, but not as the main one unless you have a particular reason for it.
There are certainly distinct advantages to Plurk which I have discussed in this article that are favorable for brands and which set Plurk apart from other social media. But these perks should also be considered in the light of the significant disadvantages of the lack of interactivity and lower number of users on Plurk compared with other social media such as Twitter.
Ultimately, whether Plurk is right for your brand depends on your intended use case and your type of business.