On July 1st, I started an experiment to see how beneficial Plurk could be as a viral marketing avenue. The results were pretty interesting. Before I go into detail about it, I want to set the stage on what the expectations were, since we didn’t do any massive numbers.
For the Love of Geeks is a relativally new blog that I started back in January. It was initially designed to be my personal blog, but it quickly developed enough of a following that I thought I should at least start posting useful (at least I like to think they are useful) bits of information on geeky stuff that I like.
This blog generally receives about 10,000 – 15,000 page views a month, and I can generally count on each of my posts to get 2 or 3 diggs, and each post generally gets about 100 individual page views, and comments are a rarity.
On Plurk, I am not a major player. I have about 125 “friends” and 25 “fans” (or people that follow my plurks). Compared to people like Leo Laporte who have 1767 friends, and 1592 Fans, or Tony Hall, who has a whopping 2040 friends, you can see that my reach is much much more limited.
Even though I have a smaller number of people on Plurk, I was looking at it from the standpoint of the MLM pyramid aspect. My 100 friends have 100 friends who have 100 friends, etc. Could I get them to pass the along the link to thier friends and then in turn keep it going.
Another aspect of the experiment that is very important is that there was no real content being passed. It wasn’t some fascinating article solving all the problems in the world, or some new peice of tech that was previously unknown. It was a simple request to digg, comment, and pass on, and I let them know it was an experiment. That would also have tainted the results, but the goal was to see how deep we could go.
So here is a breakdown of what happened.
Within the first hour, there was 25 comments, and about 10 diggs. At this point, most the people coming were two deep. (meaning that a friend of mine had sent them there.)
Within 2 hours we were up to 50 comments, and were now about 4 deep. (me > my friend > thier friend > commenter)
By the end of the day 1. We got up to 75 Comments and were at about 40 or so diggs. At this point the post had been viewed several thousand times. The view count is a little skewed, since the post got stumbled and was linked to by a few other blogs and websites. So, the traffic count became little less important in our experiment.
At the end of day 2, we had 107 comments, and I “estimate” that we had gotten about 6 levels deep, and the tally of comments so far is 112, and surprisingly almost a week later, I still see traffic coming in from people on Plurk.
In the end, I have to declare this a win. It was really cool too see the frenzy this idea caused and how excited everyone was to be a part of it. I did see some people who made comments like :
“I clicked the link, but don’t want to share” or
“I don’t want to see this”
Also, I found it interesting that a large part of the plurk population is not a part of digg, or at least they didn’t want to digg the post if they were. I have found that people who are a part of one social network are generally a part of several others as well, so this surprised me a little.
It is important to note, that plurk doesn’t favor spammers, and if you post nothing but to this link plurks, they will likely be ignored. Also, when I have posted specific blog postings I can get a decent amount of traffic from my friends, but it doesn’t get passed around automatically.
People like Tony Hall have very low karma because I think people have stopped following his plurks since they didn’t really carry a social aspect to them. They were more of a marketing thrust, trying to get his masses to do something.
On the other hand, people like Tom Merritt, or Leo Laporte have the ability to post a request and have that go viral almost instantly, since they carry a bit of “internet celebrity” status, and they have friends who have more of a “follower” mentality then a friend one.
Ultimately, I think that Plurk definitely has the potential of being a very very important marketing tool, and I can totally see targetted advertising going in this direction soon. Other services, that are more entrenched, such as FriendFeed, or Twitter have a much larger capacity to go viral since the user base is much larger.
In the end, this was fun, and when I have more time, I am going to run a similar test through twitter, so stay tuned for that.
If you have come here, and don’t follow me on Plurk, feel free to add me .. [ darthweef ]
If you have no idea what Plurk is, and want to have a little fun online, sign up – here is in an [ invite ]
Also, give me your thoughts on people using plurk as a marketing tool in the comments below.