Startup To Watch: Plag From Lithuania

    It is not hard to notice a good tweet and start the retweeting game. It is equally easy to get your friends to like and comment your Facebook posts.

    But that is not the kind of spread I am talking about, I am talking about getting your content out to thousands of people as if it was an infectious virus.

    The problem is that for your posts, videos & articles to really break the viral barrier, they often need to be picked up by a blog, an influencer, media, celebrity or basically anybody who is somebody in the social media world.

    “Imagine you wrote a very good article and you think that it would be interesting for a lot of people. Yet you are not using Facebook or Twitter and have less than ten followers on each platform.” – says Laura Kornelija Inamedinova, the Business Development & Marketing at Plag.

    In that situation, there really isn’t much you can do. Best case scenario is that one of your friends has a few hundred or thousand followers and then his second or third connection is an influencer.

    Then there is Plag, a Lithuanian startup that we somehow failed to write about but that definitely deserves all the attention.

    When they first launched in December 2014, the company got to the top charts of Hacker News & Product Hunt. In just six weeks, they amounted to over 100 000 users.

    According to Laura, they are still enjoying good growth as well as very impressive retention metrics. About 8% of all Plag users login 10 times a day or more, 6% of all sessions are longer than 30 minutes and 7 day retention is higher than 50%.

    We decided to try and get to know the startup a bit more in-depth by installing it and giving it a go. What you notice immediately upon installation is the Tinder like interface.

    “Imagine you wrote a very good article and you think that it would be interesting for a lot of people. Yet you are not using Facebook or Twitter and have less than ten followers on each platform.”

    Any piece of content can be either “infected” onwards or skipped. The more people get infected, the faster it spreads.

    The way it works is that once you swipe to infect, the first 4 people around you will be infected by your content and it will be added to their content buffer. They can then either spread it on or skip it.

    What is nifty is that you don’t even need to login or create an account (but you can). In that sense it is similar to Reddit and you can lurk in the distance forever.

    After a couple of hours, there are certain things that make Plag stand out and why I have now been using it for a couple of weeks.

    First – the ability to join rather in-depth discussions on interesting topics. This is something I did not expect at all, as by the description of the product you would expect a never-ending series of cat-pictures. Yet that is hardly the case.

    Just today, I discussed Russian Politics on Plag because someone posted a quote comparing the Ukrainian and Syrian situations.

    Then there is the option to poll people, through which I learned that out of about 100 people answering – 57% have been in a car crash. Which is a surprisingly high number.

    So in addition to spreading viral videos, articles & pictures – Plag gives you an opportunity to start discussions that quickly turn into a Quora like experience on the spot.

    Some people even managed to use it as marketing by inviting everyone for free cup-cakes in their cafe in Helsinki. That being said, the company still does not have a monetization option announced but taking this route might be an option.

    Overall, using Plag feels natural and suddenly you do not need any influencers or gatekeepers in order to spread your content. It can happen instantly and the only thing that matters is content.

    Many say that social media can be a virus and in the case of Plag this is exactly what it is – in good sense of the term. They truly made content – The King.

    The company was started by Ilya Zudin and Pavel Panov, who previously founded We Heart Pics but realized that they would not be able to compete with Instagram.

    At that point, they sat down as a team to see what else they could do and the idea for Plag was the craziest of all, so they went for it. To found Plag, they took their whole team from Russia and moved to Lithuania. To get things going they raised a low seven digit investment from IMI VC and several angels.

    They are looking to keep expanding naturally but also through “infecting” universities and other networks.

    This gives “viral content” a totally new meaning and we think that they are definitely a company to keep on your radar.