Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

Summary: I was momentarily hot on Plurk even amid a sea of seemingly valid criticism but it fell of of my -- and everyone else's -- radar.

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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.

Exhibit 1:

Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

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.

Exhibit 2:

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?

Topics: Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise

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8 comments
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  • Nope, Nada, No Way

    Tried it when all the hoopla hit, poor UI design, limited usability across populations (consumer-> business). They should pack up, shut down and develop and ACTUAL STRATEGY for making some money.

    I know Michael Krigsman agrees with me :)
    hoyamann
  • Plurk's Karma

    I just couldn't get to the plus side of the whole Karma thing. It's enough for me to post messages and read responses to Friends... but trying to get new friends to join and making sure I post enough to "purchase" new cute things... I just don't need all that stress!

    - Dan
    Olderdan
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    I can't argue with you. I love Plurk, I love the fact that you can have private conversations with MULTIPLE users which you can't do on Twitter. I love the realtime aspect of it. However, karma and the lack of moving people to the service hurt it.
    istarman
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    I use it and really enjoy it, but noticed the stalled growth as well. What I realized is that I have a core group of people that I communicate with on a regular basis and enjoy it for that reason. I can also say that it has both been helpful from a professional standpoint - both for learning from my peers and in some business opportunities that have evolved from it.

    And, for me, the big reason I like it is the user interface- I know not everyone feels that way. I like being able to scroll through a timeline and see what conversations are going on - and I can follow them. Twitter is great for other reasons, but there is no way I am going to did through them or through my friend's pages to see what everyone is talking about. Having drop-down threads makes it easy to scan a conversation on the timeline, rather than hopping around to find it.

    I think the folks developing plurk have made some cool innovations and are pretty sensitive to the community. A plurker recently passed away and her followers asked if her time line would be frozen as a memorial to her which they agreed to do. Pretty nice that they responded in the way they did. You can see how they engage on GetSatisfaction.com

    All that having been said, from a business standpoint, I see what Plurk's critics mean regarding audience drop off. Earlier in the year Plurk advertised a community evangelist position, but then no one was ever hired (at least not to my knowledge). I think a Plurk could use that kind of liaison and someone out there getting the word out in online publishing. So, maybe your piece will serve as a kick in the pants on the promotional front.
    DebInDenver
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    What I love from plurk is that it allows conversation. Twitter is just unidirectional. If you get enough close friends into plurk, it's very nice, you get a group instant messenger. Of course you couldn't try to read everything when you are out for a weekend, but neither on twitter.

    Main problem with plurk is the awkward interface, much harder to read fast than a conventional top-down list.
    aaaaaaag
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    Jennifer,

    Have you ever seen this: http://twitterstars.com/viva-la-revolucion/- I hope we had nothing to do with it :)

    Actually, despite the "revolucion" joking, and my fear that I would have to start all over again on Plurk, I really just didnt like it.

    Its hard enough to explain Twitter to clients and make them see why they need to be there - but Plurk wold be impossible. There is no way to have Plurk be considered an acceptable business tool because it tried too hard to be cute and edgy. I cant imagine convincing a client that they need to get a dancing banana. Plus I just found the timeline confusing.

    Its Twitter for me at least for now.

    --Lisa
    lisa@...
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    If Twitter needed re-inventing, it was NOT like Plurk
    did it. It may be OK for right brainers who like to
    see what's going on graphically, but it makes it even
    tougher to find the business value in micro-blogging.

    We've taken the concept of broadcasting in short
    blasts and apply it on our site to urgent business
    needs. A member shares their "Biz Need" and it goes
    out to their contacts, but we also send it to other
    business members who we think can help, matched on
    keywords. These tweets have led to direct revenue for
    many of our users.

    This is the kind of thing Twitter re-cyclers should be
    looking at.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
    http://www.wecando.biz
    ianhendry
  • RE: Plurk dissolves into social networking ghost town

    I use both plurk & twitter and my numbers increase on both of
    them-even though I use them separately for different reasons &
    groups. No. For me, plurk is not dead. I also like having replies, on
    topic, with the original post. I miss some replies on twitter, at least
    in a timely manner, because I don't see replies as quickly - and
    sometimes don't use the "replies" link. All of these mediums have
    their place, but if I had to choose between the two - I'd choose
    plurk.
    jfarley