Successful Social Media Platform Shut Down

Exclusivity seemed to be the golden ticket for Orkut, at least while it lasted. When Orkut arrived on the scene I had just finally decided to try MySpace and even when Facebook was in full swing I was still convinced I would never “need” Facebook. It comes as no surprise to me that when I finally heard about Orkut it was four years after the company no longer existed. Yup, I am that person.

Orkut had a good run. Orkut was intended to bring users together allowing them to locate communities of personal or professional interest. Orkut was most popular among students and those in the tech industry. Users were able to connect with others in their field but also with experts. It would be like being a student of the performing arts and connecting with Broadway and movie stars – it was a pretty big deal. 

Orkut was successful early on, in part because Orkut was run by Google and well, Google has a reputation for being awesome.

There is a thing called diffusion of innovation and it is essentially the process of examining why people adopt (or ignore/hate/reject) products that have been recently introduced to the market. It helps people in business, marketing and development to understand why some products stick and others do not.

Chia PetAs I write this I wonder what kind of insight was gathered from the success of the pet rock or the chia pet? Hmmm…

Facebook, Myspace, Instagram – these are all available to anyone with a computer or a smartphone. These platforms have to create a need and an urgency to adopt their platforms and drive ongoing behavior. Orkut’s distinguishing difference was the invitation only membership. Now, I am not a geek for this kind of thing so if you are in my boat – to understand how this must of felt to those “on the inside” (or wishing to be on the inside) here is a picture of Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech –

Sally Field
Once accepted as one of the “chosen ones” users could rate products and services (for the benefit of other users) and even rate each other- you think someone is attractive – rate ‘em… I am just going to leave that alone. Moving on.

Exclusivity was not the only attraction, though.The site was also clean, sophisticated and intuitive for the end user. In Brazil where e commerce was booming and social media and was the preferred connection portal Orkut’s design was a major hit. Orkut gained major traction in this region of the world. It seems that Orkut may have missed out on the opportunity to tap into other markets the way they had Brazil. Orkut had a sleek design and a target market but they seemed to lack a plan to ensure longevity. The communities that adopted the platform did well but Orkut wasn’t able to grow beyond that.

Orkut lacked a plan on what the goal of the company was and how to execute. They had early adopters in large numbers but there is no indication that the numbers were interrupted in to useful information. In the Orkal was a pretty platform for pretty people but it lacked substance and staying power.



10 thoughts on “Successful Social Media Platform Shut Down

  1. Let me start by saying I love your post. Your writing style makes me feel like I am chatting with an old friend over coffee. Great work!

    You are not the only one who came late to Orkut party. I had no idea what it was until I read this article and then the nerd in me wanted to know what I had missed. It is amazing how something that is free for all, like Facebook, and has lost it’s shiny new feeling can be so successful. I personally would much prefer the exclusivity of a platform with an invite only members list. It’s kind of like the country club of technology.

    I wonder what the future of Facebook will be considering the latest breach of confidence having information shared to third parties? If Google couldn’t make Orkut a success, will it only be a matter of time before Facebook is replaced with another shinier new technology?

    1. Thank you for your comments. I am glad I was not the only one. When I realized I missed the boat, so to speak, I tried to think back to that time and wonder what was I doing- how did I miss this. Oh well, perhaps we did not miss too much after all. I agree, I think I would be up for something more exclusive – if nothing else to see less junk in my “feed”.

  2. You made great points about Orkut not having any staying power or even a real plan to ensure it’s longevity. Even Google with its vast resources bailed on it 4 years before it was officially shut down by shifting most of its focus to other social networks like Google+ and YouTube. It wasn’t surprising then that Orkut fell so far behind its competition like Facebook, because while others were looking globally and they were focused on a few specific markets. In the end, maybe Orkut was just a trail run for Google to develop their baby “Google+”.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You have to wonder if Google learned something about this process and thought it could capitalize in another way. Very interesting how it all happened.

  3. Hi Jessica,

    Great post! You have an approachable and engaging writing style that’s fun to read. I can totally relate to your comment about being a late adopter of social media and other tech developments since I was also one of the last of my friends to join Facebook and still haven’t made a Snapchat. You made some great points about Orkut’s strengths and weaknesses. While Orkut had some positives and a clear advantages from being tied to Google, it seems as though they didn’t do the proper research on their audiences to understand how to adapt to their changing needs and stay relevant in a competitive social media market. It’s also not clear whether there was any real effort put in place to reach audiences beyond Brazil as you mentioned. Even though Orkut did well right out of the gate, they lacked the foresight to plan for customer persistence and new markets so that they could maintain their popularity and ultimately expand.


    1. I was forced into Snapchat and it still took a year before I could figure out what it is all about. I have to say, though. It can be a lot of fun to play with the voice changers. Some if the photo filters make me look pretty cute :). Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely comment.

  4. Hi Jessica,
    Great blog post, You made some excellent points about Orkut. I’ve read some of the other blogs and honestly, I liked how you make it fun and not as academically serious (and I’m still trying to figure out how to do that). But I would say overall good observations.

  5. Hi Jessica!

    First of all, I really enjoyed your post and the setup of your blog overall. Your post was very conversational and I think it really reached out to readers in a fun, engaging way. I am a bit like you, I was late hearing about Orkut and I had a myspace when it was popular, and I have a Facebook but I don’t use it often. I do agree that what made Orkut stand out so much was the fact that it was membership only, that is so interesting to me. I think about what our popular social sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and how they would be if they were set up like Orkut and “cool kids only.” Great post!

    1. Thank you! I know when I first heard about Facebook I thought it was for college kids only and I was not in school yet. I just stayed away for a while until I realized that how it started is not how it continued. In the early days I would not have paid for a social media site, but after seeing how every feed is a dumping ground, perhaps a platform for a fee that reduced the “noise” might be a welcome change.

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