Plurk plurk plurk (I just like to hear the word in my head)

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I was using Twitter for awhile but not really getting into it much. Like a lot of people who make their first foray into that micro-blogging service, I wasn’t really sure how to use it. I used to have one Twitter on my RSS feed reader who was really good at it, but then he traveled constantly, had presentations about fascinating tech stuff like software developments, and knew lots of interesting people in his field, people whose names even I recognized. So he made for some very good Tweeting.

Me? I’m an unknown freelance writer who mostly works from home and considers herself lucky if she could travel overseas at least once a year. At least my Dallas trips have some cool shopping reports.

PLURKING

Anyway, I’ve recently found Plurk, the great blogger and artist Shai Coggins having first introduced me to it. B. laughs at the name, and yes, the name is pretty weird, not to mention the logo. (I mean, what the hell is that? An elephant with its head chopped off and a bone sticking through it? Creeeeepy.) Still, it’s so much more fun and interactive than Twitter, as you have all your friends hanging out on the same open space, and you can watch the conversations all at once rather than having to scroll down to catch older ones.

Also, it’s easier (to me, anyway) to find new friends on Plurk, as you can check out conversations your current friends have with their friends and decide if they’re people you want to get to know as well. It can be hard to find new friends on Twitter, not just because of the sheer number of people using it but also because of the awkward interface.

TWITTER’S LOSSES, PLURK’S GAINS

Oh, and did I mention that Twitter’s rapid growth has resulted in some pretty frequent slowdowns and service interruptions? At one point their Replies function was shut down entirely for days on end, which resulted in quite a few Twitter folks writing angry posts on their respective blogs about abandoning Twitter entirely and finding a more robust service. Several times a day I’ll also try and post something on Twitter, only to get an Oops! page letting me know that heavy usage at that moment won’t allow me to update and that I should try again shortly. Yeah, right. I have that much time to twiddle my thumbs while I wait for Twitter to get its act together.

So if you’re interested in checking out this new, real-time social networking medium, now’s the time to do it. Play around and see how many friends you can find in this small community. You can find my Plurk widget on the right hand side of this page, and you can see the kind of stuff people like to post. And feel free to visit my profile and add me on as a friend. Would love to see you there!

USING MICRO-BLOGGING FOR PROMOTION & MARKETING

Lots of bloggers (Darren Rowse comes to mind) use these micro-blogging media as a means to promote their blogs and products, network with like-minded souls, and just hang out while taking a break from their jobs. The nature of the medium (maximum of 140 characters — not words — means that you can carry on quick, casual conversations without worrying about it taking up too much of your time. (Although I warn you that Plurk can be very addictive, even more so than Twitter.) If you’re a writer always on the lookout for ways to promote your work, your latest novel or e-Book or consulting services, this might be a good, easy option.

If, for example, you wrote a book about phobias, you can poll fellow Plurkers about their individual fears or phobias or ways that they’ve dealt with them. You can link to your blog posts about the subject, although I strongly recommend against using Plurk to do nothing but link to your blog. Otherwise, people will see through your blatant marketing push and ignore you. After all, this is supposed to be about building community, not a marketplace.

Include your Plurk widget on your blog or Web site so that visitors can check out your profile and add you on as a friend. You can begin to build your audience for your book or writing services, not to mention a community whom you can engage on the subjects you know best.

Again, though, Plurk can be terribly addictive, which can only mean one thing for working writers: time away from your writing. Still, it’s a great way to chat with friends and find out what’s going on in their day or in their part of the world without taking too much time out of your schedule.

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