Orkut: What Could Have Been

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Within the last 18 years, we’ve seen the rise and fall of so many social media platforms.

From the days, when Myspace was the dominant player and then faded into oblivion; to today, with Facebook, the undisputed king of social media.

In between this period, different platforms have come and gone from the stage. One of such pretenders was Orkut.

Launched in 2004 by Orkut Buyukkokten, Google product manager. At the height of its growth, it has over 30 million users and was adding hundreds of thousands of new users daily.

Interestingly, the social network proved quite popular in Brazil. During those days, over 90 percent of page views were from that country. Unfortunately, the network could not replicate its success globally.

Image Courtesy of Soul Brazil Magazine

One would expect Orkut, the social media backed by the search engine giant Google to flourish in this domain; however, the reverse was the case.

What went wrong?

Looking back today, one can point to a couple of things that led to Orkut’s demise – that’s aside from stiff competition from Facebook.

One is the name of the social media platform. Believe it or not, the name played a role in why the network couldn’t catch on.

Take, for instance, Orkut to an English speaker sounds like Occult – lots of negative connotation.

Secondly, it isn’t memorable – users might even struggle to pronounce it; plus, it doesn’t describe exactly what it does in one go like Facebook.

Another thing Orkut got wrong is, it couldn’t replicate its successes in Brazil and India in other parts of the world.

The nascent stage of the social media coincided with the slow emergence of the middle class in countries like Brazil and India.
So, it wasn’t surprising to see these people who have just found themselves with increased disposable income take to the internet.
And, interestingly in Brazil, Orkut provided the perfect virtual environment for people to organize themselves into communities just as in the real world. It’s common to find communities organized based on interests – so you’d see a football community, politics, sports, and so on.
Another feature of Orkut was that it made it possible for users to participate in communities instead of being just passive listeners.

Why would consumers be more interested in participating in these online messages rather than diffusion strategy?

To understand this, we will have to look at the Brazilian society. In the real world, outdoor banners were banned. Hence, elevating the position of digital marketing to a place of importance.

Also, Brazilian culture holds a strong affinity for digital and social media. At least these data confirm it – 77 percent of Brazilian social media users have a positive attitude to online shopping. Eighty percent of users say they use social media to research products.

In a culture where brands must engage their fans on various digital platforms, what advice would I lend businesses about their future social media strategy?

Understand that technology changes pretty fast. What’s the fad today, will likely become obsolete.

Throw into the mix that user behavior and tastes shift with changing technologies; it becomes a tad challenging to create a change-proof strategy for the future.

However, regardless of trend, there’re a couple of things organizations can do to stay on top of their social media game: one, strive to become the most resourceful, trustworthy brand in their niche.

Secondly, track the data to understand where the trend is moving towards and position to take advantage of it.

Weixin: The Chinese’s version of WhatsApp, PayPal, Facebook Rolled into One

Imagine an app where you can do virtually everything – stay in touch with your family and friends, send money to someone, book a flight, hail a taxi, buy train tickets. That’s Weixin (WeChat) in a nutshell. 

The app users literally live on the app – chatting away. Waiting for the little red envelop popups, completing one transaction or the other, or even playing games. 

Today, there are over 1.1 billion monthly active Weixin users. Every day nearly 902 million people login into their Weixin account. Tencent, the parent company of the messaging app, said over 45 billion audio and video calls were made on the platform last year. 

How did an app launched less than eight years ago grow to become so popular?  

To answer that we’ll have to step back in time to understand, Weixin’s audience. 

How did Weixin Identify her audience? 

Twitter #weixin

As with most popular messaging apps, think WhatsApp, Weibo, Messenger, Weixin or WeChat focused on the 18 -25 years old as these demographics are fast early adopters. 

However, over the years, since 2015, there has been a gradual shift to the 26-35 age group dominating the Weixin user base.  And as the app’s penetration increases, a higher proportion of the older age group were on board. 

How Weixin’s features fits into its users’ lifestyles 

Interestingly, according to this report on Forbes, an average WeChat user is likely to check their account ten times in a day. This, of course, can be attributed to the various features and apps available on the platform. 

Take, for instance, a user can easily, hail a taxi from the app, settle utility bills, or even shop online; in addition to the more traditional texting, video and audio calling, and file sharing. 

Or take the case of most office works, that now rely on the app to carry out their work-related activities.  

With the new enterprise accounts, organizations can now create accounts for their employees where they can share files, conduct meetings, track project progress, or as in the case of supermarket chain Meiyijia, staffs have dedicated accounts where they report inventories. 

All these features built on-top the messaging app makes Weixin a kind of a super-app with a vast ecosystem that caters to the needs of its users. 

Is it possible for users to personalize their Weixin account? 

Another fascinating aspect of the app is that users can comfortably personalize their app to see only the things they wish to see and or customized to fit their lifestyle and needs. 

For instance, you can easily tweak the navigation menu to suit your needs or even remove it altogether. 

What elements of Weixin makes it sure a huge part of the Chinese lifestyle? 

Basically, every feature on the Weixin app makes it useful in everyday life for an average Chinese, especially with the integration of the smaller third-party apps. 

Take, for example, with the Weixin pay; it’s easy to conduct virtually every transaction online without leaving the app.  

You can read the news, follow your favorite blogs, complete work-related activities, while at the same chat, and stay in touch with friends. In other words, the platform has a clear defined value proposition in order to serve its users .

Finally, it’s not far-reaching to say Weixin has become an intricate part of the daily experience of the everyday Chinese.  The social media company applied the theory of the long tail and focused only on the Chinese market to become the go to app and dominate this niche.

YouTube WeChat

Breast Cancer Meme in Social Media

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

In 2010 a meme with the question “what color is your bra?” went viral with countless women around the globe posting their bra color on Facebook.

Every year, especially during October, social media is awash with viral posts that purportedly aim to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The goal? To get people curious enough to ask what’s going on and then trigger a conversation that would ultimately lead to sharing information about breast cancer awareness.

Another viral meme that has made the rounds on social media is the one where women are posting “I like it on” the floor, kitchen cabinet, in the car.

Just like the “what color is your bra?” meme, “I like it on” posts also seek to raise breast cancer awareness. And it doesn’t have to do anything with sex. In fact, the women were talking about where they’d like to leave their purse.

Courtesy of GIPHY

What made these memes and similar ones so viral?

Take, for instance, the “I like it on” campaign was full of sexual innuendos, which probably was what made it go viral.

The “what color is your bra” campaign got people curious to ask what was happening, and in turn, encouraged more and more women to share their bra color.

Though, at the core of these social media awareness campaign lies the shared knowledge that it can be me. These campaigns tapped into one of human’s primordial emotion – that of shared grief.

Each of us is related to or has known someone who had battled cancer. So, in a way, the breast cancer meme is our little way of healing the world of this scourge.

These memes where gamified ( made into online games) in some cases. Making it even more emotionally charged and entertaining. A cool recipe for going viral. So, when you consider all these, it becomes quite clear why so many social media users were only eager to share and repost the memes.

In addition, breast cancer awareness memes usually only go viral during a certain time of the year – in October – which is the designated world breast cancer awareness month. So, timing also plays a crucial role in how viral the memes become.

How did the social media meme fall short of user mobilization?

In spite of the successes of these memes to raise breast cancer awareness, some have argued it has done little to mobilize real-life action.

The reason for this is that often these memes are not tied-in to any real-life action, say, for example, the campaigns haven’t led to a noticeable increase in donations towards getting a cure for the disease or for even more people to volunteer.

This sad situation may be because there are no concerted efforts made to track or measure the impact of these viral memes. Also, the sexualized nature of the memes, plus no additional information with concrete call-to-action are the other reasons the viral memes failed to mobilize users.

What can be done to take more advantage of these social media memes?

First, more information with clear call-to-action should be included in these memes. This way, people don’t have to wonder what was going on; plus, they get to see a clear line of action they were expected to take.

Secondly, tuning down on sexualizing the issue of breast cancer – though, the sexual innuendos were what made them viral in the first place – and focusing more on the message of creating awareness.

Finally, efforts should be made to measure the reach and impact of these campaigns on specific metrics – how many people donated to breast cancer research as a result of these memes? How many volunteered?

Using Social Media to Disrupt Industries

Image courtesy of 96.7 YES-FM

There is no doubt in the modern day marketers mind, that social media is a tool to disrupt industries. The little guy in business with a great idea can promote and even change the way consumers view an industry. This was the case with Warby Parker.

A group of students at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, were disappointed with the alternatives accessible for people needing solution eyeglasses. Expenses of lenses and casings were high. Eye specialists required advance arrangements and travel to showrooms was very inconvenient. The traditional method for selling eyeglasses needed a change. While it very well may be hard to change the conduct of clients who are accustomed to acquiring a specific way, the schoolmates chose to attempt to disrupt the eye wear market with a creative technique. Andrew Hunt, Neil Blumenthal, Jeffrey Raider, and David Gilboa founded Warby Parker in 2010 to sell eyeglasses online.

Social Media Technology has aided Warby Parker’s alternative business model for selling prescription eyeglasses online. The company utilized the innovation of social media to connect with their clients and make their business model feel like an increasingly customized involvement. Warby Parker participates in value-based dialogue by reliably speaking with, and reacting to, client remarks on their social media accounts. They consistently brief clients to take an interest with client produced content by soliciting them to post pictures from themselves trying the glasses on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Along with the Home Try-On Campaign, social media is utilized to offer expert advice, guidance, direction, and instruction on eyeglasses. Instead of simply making media messages dependent on the objectives and targets of selling eyeglasses, the organization has created content towards the test’s buyers concerns with buying eyeglasses online. This is amazing customer service by Warby parker, since social media has become an outlet for consumer questions and complaints.

Warby Parker makes useful YouTube videos and requests that fans do likewise. Customers can participate in the online community discussion by recording themselves trying on different pairs of glasses.

Along with these marketing strategies, the online retailer also uses hashtags to connect with other people posting on similar subjects.  Another way of the company using social media to generate brand awareness was when they collaborated with the organization Vision Spring. Together they have created the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. This is to ensure that for every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair of glasses is given to a person in need. The online retailer participates in social entrepreneurship which also generates positive word of mouth as well as decreases client discord with the glasses. The customer now feels as if they are a part of a larger cause, than just simply buying a pair of eyeglasses online.

Warby Parker was aware of consumers demand for more transparency from the companies they choose to do business with.   They were able to capitalize on the increase of social media usage by the general public and are a great example of “disruptive innovation.”