7 July 2014 0 Comments

Orkut’s demise: lesson for other social media platforms & online media startups

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals


Eight days ago, Google again announced the process for shutting down orkut, a social media platform launched in 2004. Its original plan at the launch,then was to better ignite and re energized social life, particularly in the online platform.. One great advantage then was to help individual maintain and enhance their relationships. It allows pictures, message among others. Apart from strengthening existing relationships, it also gives opportunity to start new ones irrespective of distance, language and geographical or ethnic backgrounds. The provision made to connect with people of similar interests, hobbies as well as opportunity to search for viable romantic as well as business relationship helped in strengthening its influence, in actual fact, it initially gained wider followership in Brazil and India before Facebook eventually, took over.

Orkut is a platform named after the then Google Engineer, Engineer Orkut Büyükkökten, who created it. A great feature of orkut is the ability to attach video through Youtube, which is also owned by Google anyway. When GoogleTalk was also initiated, orkut users could freely annex this opportunity. It also gave opportunity to evaluate or better still categorize friends and followers in different classes like trustworthy, cool, sexy among others. With all these cool features one wonders why such platform is being laid to rest? The answers are not far- fetched and here are our opinion which is subject to criticism from others.

Innovation and Redesign: since its inception, orkut has witnessed major redesigns and innovation which some users felt was all about its owner and not for the user. Some of these major redesigns were that of August 2007 and October 2009. A brand is not about the owner but about the user. While product innovation, creativity and redesigns are great, it will be great to find out the heartbeats of the consumers who are the real users of the products.

What users do:  it is clear to all that many issues will come up in any free platform which people can use to build relationships, connect as well as promote personal feelings. No social platform can survive if there are too much strict rules on this. But it is also appropriate to have a system in place which checks abnormal use of the system. Yes it will be said there are reporting tools which members can use, it is also important each platform owner should have their own internal mechanism to promptly detect anti- social behaviors. We do think Facebbok and Twitter as well as other platforms should critically think about this. For orkut, several hates groups came up in different countries. In, 2005, 2011 there were court cases on orkut from Countries like India government because of hate groups established on its platform.

Never take security and personal data safety lightly: one thing people are scare of is the unnecessary access of unauthorized persons to their data kept in any online platform. The moment users are not assured of safety on your platform, engagement levels will begin to drop. In December 2007, many users’ accounts were affected through a web worm and prior to this in 2006 there was widespread rumour of a worm MW.Or  which broke into users account with lots of personal data exposure and vulnerability issues.

Do not break the camel’s back or be ready for consequences: Google constantly pushes the elasticity of this product with the launching of similar products. Be focus, be steadfast. Yes, we can say Google may be bigger and ‘mightier’ than Facebook, but Zukerbags’ team has not launched any similar product within the chain.

Too many products with almost same functionality: just to buttress the above,: Google initially had  Dodgeball which ‘metamorphized’ into  Google Latitude. Today we have Googleplus which seems to be one of the best things in this line of social tool. We can only wish Google will give this product all it got and work hard so it will not go the way of other Google products that have been rested.

Consider the long term implication of brand name: This may not be considered as very important but it is also crucial to be given a thought. Orkut was named after an employee of Google, an Engineer, who created it. But the point is, employee comes and go. This also includes the Directors. As often the case, the ‘Engineer orkut’ of this world may soon move on to another establishment, or possibly started out on his own, will you want to promote the name of a competitor’s employee. Think about product/brand’s name with a long term view.

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