Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Poking on a trend: The “poke” phenomena

November 25th, 2007 by


“sometimes a poke is just a poke” (taly weiss).

An action of tapping and/or softly jabbing another person to gain their attention with a finger.
Facebook introduced the “poke” as one of its many interaction tools. I hold the uniqueness of the “poke” for Facebook keeping it free for interpretation (a “tabula rasa” ). Users can choose how to perceive the poke and what use they can create out of it. That’s what innovation is all about (same as the open source application model).
Watching the poke on constant rise by Facebook users, I thought it will be interesting to review it:  

Poke on Facebook help pages:
“a poke is a way to interact with your friends on Facebook. When we created the poke, we thought it would be cool to have a feature without any specific purpose. People interpret the poke in many different ways, and we encourage you to come up with your own meanings.”

Meanings users attribute to the “poke”:
While most users use the poke to attract the attention of the other user by a simple “hello” message, some users construe it as a sexual advance.
500 hats specifies the practical meanings of the poke.
“A poke could mean any of the following:
• hey there
• how are you doing?
• i’m too busy to write you an email or call, but i’m thinking about you
• holy crap, did you hear the Red Sox won the ALCS?
• just sent you an email; check it out
• hey let’s go have a beer
• did you finish that project yet?
• hey, why haven’t you written me an email / wall post lately?
• i just wrote on your wall, check it out
• we’re in a poke war, and no way i’m blinking motherfucker.. back atcha!
• gee, you’re cute
• i don’t really care about you that much, but i’m poking you anyway to make you think i do
• hey respond to my email dammit
• i don’t know who you are, but you’re cute
• just broke up with my ex, looking for a one-night stand/rebound
• let’s have sex
• you’re way outta my league & i have no chance of having sex with you, but maybe you’ll poke me back anyway
• yo, what up?”

Groups and applications in Facebook:
What can teach us more on the poke than new groups and applications surrounding it?

Currently there are over 500 groups, 149 events and 36 applications to do with the poke.

  1. Popular poke applications: “X Me” (with more than 500k active users), “SuperPoke!”, “poke war”, “Poke Pro” (you can see applications stats using adonomics).
  2. The sexual interpretation of the poke inspired a popular Facebook group titled “Enough with the Poking, Lets Just Have Sex,” which has more than 330,000 members. (see Vallewag discuss the sexual approaching epidemic)
  3. Developers follow their own poke stats
  4. Recently I was invited to a friend’s birthday party event on Facebook: we were actually invited to a Midnight Poke Event where friends were asked to poke a birthday wish all at once.


I wasn’t at all surprised to find that the poke is already in use to describe the business rush around Facebook”: The Web’s big players poke Facebook

Will the Poke live and revive outside Facebook?
Understanding the power of Facebook and the way terminology catches up (see the “bacn” buzz)- I believe it is already there.

What do you think?


BlogPulse: poke on blog citations

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2 Responses

  1. elish Says:

    great example of how users innovate functionality from available technology – “functions follow forms”

  2. GenTxt R GenNxt: short text go mainstream Says:

    […] A search in blogpulse shows the paramount buzz ‘W00T’ generated over “poke”. […]

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