All the Right Plurks
The Plurking craze has swept over to Taiwan's business sector. And BenQ's affable avatar Ah-Ji the Lion has done particularly well cozying up with Netizens. What is BenQ's secret formula for social media success?
All the Right PlurksBy Benjamin Chiang
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 429 )
In Taiwan, Plurking means business.
The craze surrounding Plurk has made this microblogging site an incisive marketing tool, and consumer electronics company BenQ has gotten in on the action, claiming in just a few months nearly 1000 friends and fans that stay informed on the company's latest news and events.
Many people assume that just signing up for a Plurk account lets you talk directly with a vast number of Netizens, but that is not the case.
"Accounts and photos should have human, friendly qualities to attract the interest of web users," stresses Vincent Lin, director of the BenQ Brand Management Center. BenQ's account on Plurk is "BenQ Taiwan," with a lion avatar and the nickname Ah-Ji the Lion, a reference to the Taiwanese television personality Ah-Ji the Chef. However, this Ah-Ji admits not knowing how to cook, instead serving up the skinny on the latest 3C products.
Personification Makes Lion Icon Endearing
BenQ's lion is invested with human qualities and, like a BenQ employee, makes friends and chats away with them on Plurk, sometimes even giving out inside scoops on the company.
"We run Ah-Ji the Lion like a celebrity," BenQ Brand Management Center project manager Luke Chen says with a smile. "Changing avatar photos adds Karma." (The Plurk site maintains a points index, measuring Plurking activity, which it calls "Karma.") In addition to his manager, Ah-Ji the Lion has a celebrity mother and a personal stylist.
BenQ piggybacked on the notoriety of a major 3C seller big on Plurk, adding "Crazy Mike" as a friend to gain a good dose of instant "Karma."
Ah-Ji the Lion boosted his Karma by sharing inside stories on new products and first-hand reports from press conferences and sets where celebrity BenQ spokespeople were filming, forging a feeling of exclusivity for Plurk friends.
BenQ takes a two-pronged approach to product marketing, employing both conventional mass media and Plurk social media. Ah-Ji the Lion began by reporting directly from a press conference. Accompanied by "manager" Luke Chen, he posed for photos with show girls and products, Plurking on the spot to an instant, rousing response from Plurk friends.
Bridging the Consumer Gap
BenQ treats social media as one element of relationship management. The on-line marketing team at BenQ headquarters searches the Web each day for anything related to the BenQ brand, responding immediately.
One time a Netizen Plurked, "I'm looking for a digital camera. How do BenQ cameras rate?" Almost immediately there was a crush of responses from others in the network, one of whom humorously answered, "Other than the brand, BenQ offers all the functions you could ask for."
As soon as "he" saw that Plurk message, Ah-Ji the Lion Plurked back, "We'll do our best," blowing a lot of Internet users away that this brief missive drew BenQ's attention from among all the thousands of Plurks sent daily. And sure enough, the Plurker that sent the query went out and bought a BenQ digital camera the very next day.
Maintaining a consistent presence on social media sites has become an integral component of BenQ's customer service system. Plurk can help the company keep its finger on the pulse of its customers.
Recently a BenQ product consumer from Hsinchu called the BenQ service hotline to request repair service. Dissatisfied with the company's response, instead of calling customer service staff to complain about the slow service, the customer voiced displeasure directly on Plurk. "As soon as Ah-Ji the Lion noticed the customer complaint over the Internet, he got right in touch with customer service and got them to pick up the pace, averting a potential crisis of on-line customer complaints and lost customers," relates Luke Chen.
"If you're going to go after social media as a way to get in touch with consumers, you need to be 101 percent sincere and operate over the long term," says Chen, sharing BenQ's approach to Plurking. The worst thing would be for the business sector to just plunge in to social media without staying engaged.
Translated from the Chinese by David Toman
BenQ's Plurk Success Secrets
1. Personification of the company's presence using Ah-Ji the Lion, a simple and memorable account name. Making friends first, not using high-pressure sales tactics.
2. Piggybacking on the popularity of other Plurkers to raise visibility, known on Plurk as "Karma."
3. Dispatching the latest information to Plurkers, like first-hand reports from press conferences, to foster a sense of exclusivity.
Chinese Version: 不做菜的阿基獅 跟噗友搏感情