When my friend Stacy Thayer said to me this morning, "There are a ton of social networks out there but so few of them stick," I had to agree. Her valid observation tied directly to one service in particular that has been recently void from most radars: Plurk.
No, this is not a "Plurk is dead" post as I do not believe in declaring death to anything. My observation is more that the Plurk hype has died almost as quickly as it has started and the site itself seems to be a virtual ghost town. I was momentarily hot on Plurk even amid a sea of seemingly valid criticism of the service. Though truth be told, if you look at my Plurk timeline you'll see that I lost interest immediately after. Why? Fellow ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett wrote:
Plurk is a quirky time sink that will struggle to find acceptance in any business environment.
That's only one part of it. Even from a consumer use perspective, Plurk doesn't do it. There's no sustainability. One of the theories I have -- which Dennis also wrote about -- is that the service tries so hard to be cute that it wastes a lot of Web real-estate with unnecessary graphics and other useless features (like karma). It's attempt at an endearing graphic representation has also somewhat failed.
On top of that the hype that Plurk did have is not translating into unique users. The chart below from Compete.com gives a high level measurement of site traffic as compared to other services. Plurk had a quick jump in new users back around the time of all of the hype, but it's surely and steadily losing steam (at a rate of 10 percent month to month) while other services are thriving. Sure, Plurk defenders could claim that third-party apps are being used to post, hence the low site visits, but the same could be said for Twitter and FriendFeed, which still show growth.
Some might look at the chart and say that a couple hundred thousand users is not failure -- and they'd be right. But there's absolutely no growth. Plurk -- like most other social networking services -- tried to get into the election game this year to boost it's traffic, yet it appears that it might not have worked to the site's desire.
I've been accused in the past of disliking Plurk merely because I am loyal to Twitter. That is just silly. Yes, Twitter is my social communications vehicle of choice but I am also active on Facebook, FriendFeed and LinkedIn, all of which have some feature cross over (especially since LinkedIn released its apps yesterday). Plurk just isn't an appealing service -- and my momentary love affair with it turned out to be just a one-night stand.
Do you use Plurk?