Plurkshop: Atypical Social Media Campaigns

Last Night I had the privilege of hosting the 5th ever PlurkShop. Plurk, is an online community that facilitates conversations through microblogging. Each post is less than 140 characters long and you follow the Plurks along a time line. Discussions exist in threads so that you can participate. One person "says" something and others contribute to the conversation through responses.

It's a fun community. A kind of Digital Diner- you show up, someone pours you a cup of coffee and the gang is there. They are all smart AND funny; ready to chat about social media and the biz. And, they give you a real, hard time :-)

What is a Plurkshop?
A group of motivated social media gurus- at all stages of the learning curve - get together in a Plurk thread to rap about a topic. Initially, these conversations grew organically and folks would spend hours debating the merits of a blog, marketing strategy, or helping one another with business challenges. Well, gentle reader, great things are delivered out of spontaneity and our group - open to anyone wanting to join - decided to host official Plurkshops. We set dates & times; one of us serves as a host and voila- a workshop based on free form exchange is rolling.

Plurkshop #5: A-Typical Social Media Campaigns
Are there sacred cows that you would never, ever touch with social media? Is social media appropriate for all types of business? Would it work for the most pedestrian of markets like waste management, auto body shops, TV repair shops, public utilities?

Here's what we came up with. Yes & No. For the most part, almost any business/organization could build an online social community with the exception of funeral homes. Aspiring businesses however, need to met a series of conditions:
  1. Does the business have a marketing plan?
  2. Does management know why it wants social media?
  3. What kind of community does it hope to build?
  4. Who will implement the plan?
  5. Are there resources- time, skills, money, technology to implement the plan?
  6. Does the organization have an established community to build upon?
  7. Is this community online?
  8. Can the company partner with other organizations to build a community together?
  9. What is the best social media application? Blog? Facebook? MySpace? Twitter?
  10. Is this something local or national in scope? Where do they want it to go?
What's the Value for the Organization?
  1. Able to harness the enthusiasm of customer base to build an online community.
  2. Attract new customers through the online community.
  3. Can provide extra service to clients such as DIY tips.
  4. Helping your community find resources builds trust.
  5. Having a comprehensive listing on Google & Yahoo helps your community find you - more and more people are recycling their yellow pages!
  6. Using feedback media, such as blog comments, allows the company to incorporate these ideas into their future plans.
  7. Partnering with other organizations can save on resources and expand reach.
  8. An interactive site engages participants and encourages them to contribute.

Technology Transfer
All great things experience growing pain. So many Plurkers attended our last Plurkshop that we decided to try to adapt the format to a chat room this time. Which had its challenges. A bright guy was able to set us up with the chat room and since we were in beta format, there were a few glitches. For those who were challenged by the new format, they were able to follow the conversation on their Plurk timeline.

Probably the bigger challenge was communication about the Plurkshop. Many people knew we were having the Plurkshop, but had trouble finding us - Plurk Gods can you offer and event listing space? Maybe an event ticker?

Also, the fact that we were in a password protected chat room led some to believe that we were trying to be exclusive. This was not the case. Our aim was to provide a format to maintain a pace to the conversation, that was a problem last time, in a forum that allowed for a large number of participants. The lesson is good communication is just as important as the technology. Finding useful applications that enable us to get the word out clearly to the community is key. Our group's goal is for everyone to be able to participate in community building conversations.

Give us time gang! We want everyone to participate and have plans in the works to solve these challenges.

Examples of A-Typical Social Media
Waste Management, Inc. sponsors Greenopolis an online green community.
Buchtel Motors in Denver gives tips and offers appointment set-up online.
Denver Water has a water conservation campaign, Use Only What You Need
(Be sure to check out the Bandwagon page and watch the hilarious flower video!)

Check out the timeline from last night's convo here. And send us some love- we need your comments!

Happy Fourth of July!
 -I Can't Keep Up


kmunse said...

Great recap. It is amazing the ways social media can be used whether it be a small automotive repair shop or huge PR firm, half the fun is socializing. Great discussion last night, thank you for hosting. :)

lauralovesart said...

great job! sounds like some valuable information can come out of these plurkshops! i would love to be a part of it!

~Laura Iriarte

Mike Templeton said...

Great recap on the Plurkshop. One of these days I need to actually join in and participate instead of just reading about them afterwards. ;)

I also think that your idea about some sort of calendar or event listing service would be of use.

Have you thought about posting events on a site like Upcoming.org? My local Tweetup group has used that fairly successfully for several of our functions, plus it gives you the ability to track RSVPs.

I Can't Keep Up said...

Thanks for your great comments Mike! We are so new that planning for a calendar of some sort is in the works. Teeg is working on it. I think I recall Upcoming being mentioned, but am not sure what the decision was as I dropped out of that conversation. As I explained in my piece, I think the challenge is finding a way to make sure everyone learns about it. People who weren't on my friend or fan list couldn't find us. Maybe people could sign up for something like plurkbuddy and each time there is a new event they would get a reminder telling them to check the calendar and have the link embedded?

Teeg said...

Hi Mike,

I did look at Upcoming before I decided on GCal, and have it on my list to play with some more, probably next week and try to get things set up.

I ended up setting the main calendar in GCal for a few reasons, including ease of use, ability for anyone to embed it on their blogs, and the fact that Upcoming and other sites will let you use it to pull dates from.

Here's the link by the way: http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=4g9ni333511ioih34opoip0064%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York

I Can't Keep Up said...

Thanks Teeg! Do you think we could create a Plurk Calendar identity and people can "friend" it for updates. Each time someone posts to the calendar though someone would have to facilitate that. Maybe too much work, but just a thought.

Teeg said...

Mike, actually I love that idea and now you have me wondering if there's a way to automate it.

Cchris is working on some of the ideas I had for a Plurk calendar, I'll see if he couldn't add a code that would auto-update to Plurk a short while before each event.

That would also be a good way for people to share 1 time events to go on the calendar too...hmmm, LOL now I'm going be toying with this idea until I get someone to start coding it. :D

Avasiare Skincare and Cosmetics said...

Was not able to catch the Plurkshop but we love your recap.
Perfect way to explain how Plurk works, this may help more of our friends and customers see the benefit they hadn't seen in Plurk previously.

Amber said...

Hey Deb - great recap, and GREAT idea to explain what a Plurkshop is and the philosophy behind them. I'm going to follow your lead in future posts on the topic.

Lovin' this community, and glad to be a part of it with you.

conniereece said...

Great recap. I get so much from these post-plurkshop reviews, even though I participated in the original event. Nice to have all that free-flowing discussion distilled into a few succinct paragraphs.

I Can't Keep Up said...

Thanks for your comments Amber & Connie. Amber I did the review of Plurk because a lot of my readers are new to Plurk. I did post on it a while back, but I think that was a month ago. I decided to do a refresher!

A.M.Sall said...

Deb, you're a genius. You really know how to make things crystal-clear. I missed the Plurkshop, but it's as if I were there!

Thanks a lot!


I Can't Keep Up said...

Amadou thank you for your nice comment! I am glad you enjoyed it.

Beth Harte said...

Great recap Deb! Excellent PlurkShop with so much valuable information. It's wonderful how social media can make A-typical companies appear larger and more approachable...removing the barriers that typically exist.