We are three days into the holy month of Ramadan. After a month of fasting there will be a holiday time called Eid, where people will buy new things, (many of them picking up new gadgets) and return to their hometowns. @pulkam, short for ‘Pulang Kampung’ (or ‘going back home’) is a Twitter account where users can share their pulkam/mudik experience, or even promote their hometown. One of the founders of this movement, so to speak, is Glenn Marsalim. Here’s a brief chat we had with him.

1. Who is the creator of @pulkam? When it was founded?

It was started two years ago during the IndonesiaUnite movement on Twitter, if anyone still can remember. It was myself, Iwet Ramadhan, Alfa Aphrodita and Patrick van Diest.We then discussed about this idea on Twitter and soon many attracted to join. Pinot, an Indonesian in Kuwait, is one of them and he is the biggest contributor on the team. I am basically maintaining the concept of pulkam.
2. What is the reason for making the pulkam account? Besides of course marking the Lebaran holiday after the month of Ramadan?

To promote Indonesian cultures, culinaries, customs, and more. In marketing speak they’d call it ‘user-generated content’. In my understanding, it is sharing. We Indonesians are very proud of our kampung halaman(hometown) and we would love people to know about it and invite everyone to come.
Pinot added:

The original idea of @pulkam was sharing the mudik experience with others. Then I was thinking, why not help people on their mudik journey so they can arrive at their mudik destination safe and sound? So then @pulkam also provided traffic information, train and flight schedules, locations, streets, ATMs, fuel stations and even hotel or tourist places. Basically, we just gathered all the info from the internet, and then reshared it to @pulkam followers. It nothing really special, but now the followers have a real mudik friend.

3. So far you have garnered over 5000 followers. How can you leverage this?

I dont think the number of followers is really the main point. It’s more about participation. When we can help our followers on their pulang kampung journey, and the followers are happily and proudly tweeting their pictures and their stories, then we know pulkam had achieved it’s goal. I don’t see the point of having 100,000 folowers but very little participation or conversation. Last year we have the most followers in comparison to similar Twitter accounts belonging many prominent brands.
4. How many replies or retweets you usually can get when it’s peak season?

We have never really counted it, but I would guess it’s around 50 replies in an hour.
5. Besides Twitter, is there any other technology that you are currently using?

We have Facebook, Tumblr, and just last night Pinot floated the idea of using Radio Amatir (Amateur Radio). But I must say, the most important technology we use is human technology. We have volunteers on the road to report traffic conditions directly to us.
6. What is the plan for this year? How many people will help you running the service?

The plan is to maintain the character of pulkam: Friendly, exciting, fun and most importantly we want to maintain a sense of belonging. Pulkam is really from all of us and for all of us. We want to let it remain spontaneous. Especially during this time when Twitter has become so jaded with brands and hidden advertising. I guess it’s good to give an alternative. Back to fitrah. Let’s just share.
7. With so much interest over the past year, will you entertain any advertising possibilities? Or it’s just purely social?

Since day one we were already working together with some brands. Tri, Telkomsel and TechLife were participating in giving prizes for photo competitions. We also worked with social media accounts such as @infoll, @lagimakan, and @ayosehat. This year, we will be working with Bistip. At this moment it’s purely social with help from sponsors. But no, we don’t make money out of pulkam yet. Maybe in the future. If you sit in our “master control” room, and read all the tweets and tweetpics about people’s kampung halaman, then you will understand that money isn’t everything.

By: Joshua Kevin
Joshua Kevin is passionate about tech startups, entrepreneurship, social media and he’s doing his best in keeping up with all of that. Also an Apprentice at #StartupLokal community and Associate at East Ventures. He’s a Sophomore at Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia and yearning for more Youthpreneurship activities there.

http://www.penn-olson.com/2011/08/03/pulkam/