The Rise and Fall of a 30-million User Social Media Network

Hey All, and welcome back to Bard & Books! A couple of quick updates before we jump into this week’s post. First, unfortunately the mortgage that I had been working on fell through as the place wasn’t approved for a VA Loan, so no new house right now. Instead, we’re looking to continue to save and hopefully will be in a better position next year to keep rocking with it.

On a more positive note, my supervisor has recommended me for a promotion at work! I am really excited and unless something crazy happens it should be good to go as the higher ups have verbal supported it. Right now, all we have to do is wait for the paperwork to process.

As to this week’s post, we have been reviewing a case study as part of my Master’s at SNHU about the social platform Orkut. Due to its fast growth and subsequent fall, I think it is a great example of how social media efforts need to evolve as both the company and audiences change. Before we get into, I have to make my standard sales pitch. If you read the post and enjoy the content, please hit the follow button at the side of the page. I contribute to this blog mostly because I love writing—and a little because I can use it as part of my assignments for class—and it makes my day whenever I see that someone has enjoyed the content enough that they want to see more. Thank to everyone is a returning reader, and without further ado, here is this week’s post from Bard & Books!

The Rise and Fall of a 30-million User Social Media Network

Photo by Suliman Sallehi from Pexels

Mahoney and Tang are the often mentioned of Strategic Social Media: From Marketing to Social Change. If you have been following the last couple posts ( Integrating your Platform… and What Kills Social Media Strategies?) I would highly recommend checking out the case studies themselves. They are incredibly valuable to any marketer or author and offer some great insights into crafting an effective digital brand. Starting on page 192 of the book, they discuss Google former social media platform Orkut which hinges on three distinct phases:

  1. The birth and rise of the platform (Orkut reached 1.5 million communities in its first year and had a peak of 30 million users)
  2. The regional popularity of the platform (Brazil accounted for 90% of the page views)
  3. And the subsequent fall (Orkut officially ended in 2014 but the original developer has continued it in the form of Hello)

Orkut was originally launched in 2004 by Google under the creation and guidance of the lead engineer Orkut Buyukkokten. While many of social media sites at the time focused on building a network of people that you knew, Orkut centered itself on building communities around shared interests. While Orkut might not be around anymore, this same concept has been applied and is successful with the social media platform Reddit (my personal favorite social site ever).

Initially, Orkut was most popular with students and those involved with the technology field. The fact that Google owned the platform increased the prestige and at first Orkut was an invite-only social media network. This created a sense of prestige and thus helped it grow in its initial stages.

In addition, Orkut enable small aspects of competition to its users as they were allowed to rate other profiles based on their trustworthiness, cool factor, or sexiness. Again, it establishes a sense of accomplishment when you are invited as well as the positive reinforcement regarding how others view you. Between the back of Google, the focused features, and the exclusivity, Orkut exploded in growth.

Orkut was most popular within one country in particular. Brazil. Part of this was due to the nation’s laws regarding advertising. Outdoor advertising of any kind is banned in the country which means that companies are restricted to only adverting in the digital sphere. With Brazil serving as the fifth largest online market in the world, it provides an excellent opportunity for a strategic social media app to take root. Users of Orkut were able to use the platform to research products and services and trust that they were obtaining accurate information as it wasn’t coming directly from the company but rather other consumers. As technology developed further, Orkut began to find difficulties with staying relevant.

As online video and photo sharing gained in popularity, Orkut lagged in functionality. Their platform couldn’t handle the large amount of data and implemented blockages, limiting the number of friends people could have, and had trouble loading the photos and videos that they did allow. Soon, the rampant popularity of Google’s exclusive platform dwindled as the product itself was not as good as other social media sites. The mass exodus resulted in user’s jumping to other sites and resulted in Google pulling support in September of 2014.

Lessons from a Failed Social Media Platform

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In my opinion, I believe there are a few important takeaways to Orkut’s story. The first is that Orkut was incredibly successful in establishing a perception of value to the platform in the initial stages. Those that were involved with it felt that they were being recognized as influential within their community. When it comes to us creating our own platforms, it is important to convey that the audience is the most important person involved with any online project. I can type away for years, but if no one cares to read it, it does little good for the world.

For this reason, I want to move more into recognizing other writers and the works that they have already created. If you’re reading this far, please drop a link to one of your posts and I will jump over, check it out, and if it would fit here, I would be more than happy to reblog it! I don’t have many followers, but anything I can do to help spread the word.

The next takeaway involves Orkut leveraging an opportunity with a particular audience. As Brazil doesn’t allow outdoor advertising, they found a niche in digital realm. A similar marketing strategy can be found with books. For me, I love writing fantasy. Once all the COVID complications are gone, I want to connect with local game stores in regards to doing a book events or otherwise supporting their game nights. I would love to be a guest DM at a store or simply help run a Magic tournament. By meeting an audience that is predisposed to enjoy my genre, I might be to convert a few people into readers.

The last lesson from Orkut is one that is often understood but rarely acknowledged. No matter how effective or exclusive or interesting a product’s marketing seems, none of it matters if the product itself does not meet expectations. As Orkut couldn’t handle the growing demands of social media users, they died. In same way, if a book isn’t quite polished yet, there is no amount of marketing that will make it a success.

Thank you all for reading! I know this was a long post, so in case you forgot and haven’t done so, please hit the FOLLOW button at the right of the page as well as leave a COMMENT below! Thanks again, and I will see you next time on Bard & Books!

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