18 May Orkut – A Sexy Little Blip in Social Media Time
Which came first… the chicken or Classmates?
You may or may not remember the social media platform that seemed to have started it all – Classmates.com. Yes, this was before AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, Skype, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook…. this was the grandfather of all social media. Classmates.com was a platform that began in 1995 and allowed users to register their name under a school and graduating year for the purpose of keeping in touch with friends. I was on it… and I thought it was genius.
Orkut – you know that early social media platform owned by Google, named after it’s creator (a Google employee at the time), launched in 2004, and servicing over 53 million users at it’s prime. I can’t help but wonder, being the marketing and tech nerd that I am, why I’ve never even heard of this?? While it quickly became one of the most popular social media platforms of it’s time, Orkut was primarily for Brazilians. India also joined the movement, but that’s about where it stopped. Those two locations alone were nothing to sneeze at, though. You might call it the equivalent to our version of MySpace.
Comparing MySpace to Orkut
MySpace was launched in 2003 in the United States. At it’s height around 2008, it had over 100 million unique users. Orkut was born in Brazil a year after MySpace in 2004. While MySpace focused on creativity and music, Orkut was more keen on building “communities”. Users would log on to find others through workplaces, hometowns, even yearbooks. Where MySpace had your Top5 and later Top10, Orkut simply allowed you to rate other users based on aspects such as sex appeal and trustworthiness. Meanwhile in the background, Facebook had also launched in 2004, but only to college students. As Facebook opened to the public in 2006, it began to grow rapidly and outpaced MySpace in the US.
Just like MySpace, Orkut was overpowered when Facebook became a global leader in social media around 2009. The difference is that MySpace was able to repurpose their site into a music-lovers social media platform and is still alive and kickin’ today. Orkut, on the other hand, steadily declined until it crumbled under pressure in 2014. So what led to Orkut’s fall?
While MySpace was sold, improved, and essentially re-launched as a music savvy platform, Orkut was plagued with user traffic jams, problems loading and sharing photos, and just website problems in general. The icing on the cake was the limitations on the number of friends you could have. Simply put, Orkut wasn’t listening to their customers as they grew in size. Eventually Facebook and other platforms continued to improve where Orkut had failed, and users began to migrate to these platforms until there was no longer a viable reason to keep the platform alive. Orkut closed their doors with a farewell message to users in 2014.
Attempting to rekindle their old flames, the company sold and was rebranded as “Hello” in 2018. By then, Facebook and Twitter (among others) were just too much competition for Orkut and the doors were closed again – presumably forever.
How can YOUR business stand up to the competition?
Marketing… and listening. These are your biggest assets and they have stood the test of time. You have to be amazing, useful, solve a problem, and most of all you have to be KNOWN. Once you’re out there and thriving, how do you hang on to it? You have to be willing to keep meeting your customers desires and needs. You have to adapt and grow. Lastly, you have to know your competition and make sure they aren’t listening harder than you are to your customers. Know your product or service and be proud of it – but be flexible enough to evolve with your customers. If you don’t hide behind your pride, they’ll tell you what they want and you’ll be able to continue coming up with great ideas to keep going!