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.
As 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 –
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.