Orkut: A Recipe for Success?

Image by geralt

What is Orkut?

The social networking site Orkut, created in 2004 and shut down in 2014, experienced great popularity in Brazil during the decade it operated.  The site had over 50,000 communities within its first four months, and over 1.5 million within a year.  Similar to other sites, users were able to use searches for keywords and descriptions to seek out communities, as well as seeing which communities other users were part of.  Most users of the site were either students or individuals who work in technology, and an invitation-only system of membership meant being well-connected.

Orkut placed a heavy value on user privacy, but also allowed users to rate each other on categories such as being cool or trustworthy.  Product and service recommendations could also be made by users within their communities.  This was critical because so many Brazilians place heavy trust in recommendations from social media.

Successful and Unsuccessful Planning

There are several steps in an effective action plan.  These include:

  • Goals – setting goals that relate to objectives
  • Target audience – finding both a larger and smaller target audience, as well as individuals
  • Social media choice – choose a relevant platform
  • Resources – budget, expertise, and quality control
  • Policies – such as password policies and ethical considerations
  • Monitoring – measuring effects and constant research
  • Activity plan – timeframes for projects and monitoring

Orkut was successful in many ways.  First, it had a goal and purpose to provide the ability to search for communities.  It targeted audiences of students and technology workers, and created a platform to meet audience needs.  With Google as its owner, many resources were available to help ensure its success.  Policies such as user privacy were a major focal point.  However, Orkut fell short on monitoring.  Online video was very important to its Brazilian audience, but the platform lacked video sharing capabilities and struggled with image sharing.  It also limited how many connections with friends users could make.  If Orkut had taken appropriate steps to monitor and adjust to audience needs, perhaps it would have continued to grow and thrive.

Orkut and Culture

Perhaps one of the reasons Orkut was so popular in Brazil was because of how the platform aligned with Brazilian culture.  In Brazil, 92% of internet users have social network connections and average nearly 4 hours per day on social media.  The culture encourages social media engagement.  Additionally, there are more cell phones than people, and Brazilians have a very positive attitude towards online shopping.  While we are bombarded with billboard advertisements in the U.S. during our daily commutes, online marketing is very popular in Brazil where there is a ban on outdoor advertising.  These factors helped set Orkut up for success in Brazil.  However, a lack of monitoring and making adjustments to meet the changing needs of its audience ultimately led the platform, which peaked at 30 million users, to its decline and collapse.

The App for Everything

Image by geralt

Introducing Weixin

Weixin is a popular social networking app in China.  It has messaging and sharing functions similar to WhatsApp and Line but is also so much more.  In just three years, the app was able to draw in users from not only China, but also Southeast Asia, Europe, and America to reach more than 300 million users. 

The Winning Strategy

Weixin has won over such a large audience by first taking the time to understand them.  Its young city-dwelling audience of smartphone users are offered an app that can handle everything from inviting a friend to dinner to helping users find a cab all in one convenient place.  Weixin understood that its audiences had many other app choices available, so it needed to minimize their search costs.  Weixin did this by finding out what users needed and offering one single app to meet as many of these needs as possible.  Users can record voice messages, read news within the app, shop within the app, or even reserve a taxi.  Weixin continued to monitor user needs and moods to introduce new services such as its Red Envelope campaign during the holiday season.  All the features offered by Weixin allowed the app to become part of its users’ routine. 

Image by GDJ

Fit of Features

Weixin’s features are a fit for its audience because it allows them to:

  • be social
  • shop online
  • get breaking news
  • many other things. 

Need a cab?  Open the Weixin app.  Need your spouse to send you a picture of the grocery list you left on the kitchen counter?  Open the Weixin app.  However, how can audiences with a different background make Weixin fit for them?  Those who live in more rural areas may still be able to use Weixin to message friends and family, read news, or shop with businesses who have set up their shops on Weixin.  Those who struggle with typing and texting may enjoy the app because of its ability to record and send voice messages.  With so many features available in one app, it is likely that most people can find a benefit to using the Weixin app.

Making Habits

Several features of the Weixin app allow it to become a part of people’s lives.  Most of us use some kind of messaging app each day, while many others regularly seek taxi services or want to read the latest news.  By offering these common features, users become accustomed to opening the Weixin app daily or even many times each day to accomplish various tasks.  As new features are offered, the app can send notifications or show an announcement within the app to tell users about the new things the app can help them do, which increases the time users spend in the app.

Does Weixin stand a chance of being successful in other countries?  While smartphone ownership is high in countries such as South Korea, the U.S., and Spain, many countries report much lower smartphone ownership, such as Kenya and India.  These countries have much smaller target audiences for Weixin and would prove to be more challenging.  However, in today’s busy world, many people want to accomplish things as quickly and easily as they can and convenience is a key consideration, so countries with larger potential target audiences could prove successful for Weixin.

The Breast Cancer Meme: Does Going Viral Equal Success?

Image from Pixabay by marijana1

Breast Cancer Statistics

With around 12% of women in the U.S. developing invasive breast cancer during their lives, most of us have either been diagnosed or know someone who has been diagnosed with it.  Additionally, 2,620 diagnoses in men are projected for this year.  These alarming statistics make Breast Cancer Awareness a cause that many of us would like to support.  In recent years, the breast cancer meme has been popular on Facebook to help raise awareness for this cause, but how much has it done to help the cause?

A Case Study

A case study on the breast cancer meme discusses the popular cryptic statuses shared by women on Facebook during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The statuses begin with a private message to females requesting that they post a status with something such as just their name and the color of their bra, or “I like it” followed by where they like to put their purse.

While the breast cancer meme has had great rates of participation and has spread the Breast Cancer Awareness message far and wide, it has done so through vague or confusing posts and does not provide a further call to action.  It also does little to acknowledge that men can also be faced with the challenge of breast cancer, especially since the campaign tries to keep men out of the loop about the crazy status updates they are seeing.

An Analysis

So why is the meme so popular each year and why does it draw so many participants?  Many social media users find it simple to post a cryptic status update and feel like they are doing something to support a good cause.  It can also be fun to have others question what on earth that weird post was about.  Perhaps another part of the reason the meme is so successful is because of how much awareness there already is for breast cancer.  Many products in stores turn pink each October to also support the cause, and many of us have a personal connection to it either through our own fight against breast cancer or by knowing someone who has had to fight it.  Would the meme be as popular if it was centered around a lesser-known cause such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?

Image from Pixabay by bluebudgie

Unfortunately, while the breast cancer meme is highly popular, it does little to encourage users to take further actions such as donating to a breast cancer charity, so how can the breast cancer meme encourage more mobilization and make a bigger difference?  There are several ways to support a cause such as:

  • Signing a petition
  • Sharing your action online
  • Join a charity run
  • Donate
  • Start a fundraiser
  • Have a drive
  • Request donations instead of gifts

To have a truly mobilizing message, social media users must easily be able to take action.  Want to share a confusing status to get attention for Breast Cancer Awareness?  Go for it!  However, a simple addition such as sharing a link to a breast cancer charity either in the post or in the comments will make it easier for others to contribute directly to the cause.  Sharing with your social network that you have donated with a link to the charity or that for your October birthday you would like friends and family to donate to charity instead of giving gifts can also help with mobilization.  While sharing crazy Facebook statuses might be fun, it’s hard to raise awareness and encourage others to take action for something through a secretive campaign!

For more information from this week’s blog, please check out these great sites:



Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association


Warby Parker Puts on Its Social Glasses – How Social Media Helps a Business’s Vision

Image by Free-Photos

Inspiration and Challenges

Warby Parker is an excellent example of how a business can harness the power of social media to build communities and encourage business growth.  A case study on Warby Parker tells the story of how four classmates rebelled against traditional options for prescription eyeglasses by creating a company which makes prescription eyeglasses available online at a much lower cost.  However, early on many consumers challenged the idea of purchasing something as important as glasses online, while others feared that low prices meant a lack of quality.

Overcoming Challenges

So how did Warby Parker overcome these consumer concerns?  According to the case study, Warby Parker allowed consumers to try on five pairs of glasses at home through its “Home Try-On Campaign”.  However, transactional communication has also been a huge part of its success by responding to consumer social media comments and encouraging user-generated content such as photos of consumers wearing their new Warby Parker glasses.  Expert advice is also offered on social media, as are informational videos on YouTube.  Even fans are invited to create and share their own related content.  It also helps when potential new customers are introduced to new products and services through their trusted friends sharing their experiences on social media!

Social Media vs. Traditional Media

We can see that social media was a tool for more than just informing audiences about Warby Parker’s unique business model.  Social media was able to put a plethora of up-to-date information in the hands of consumers in one easy-to-access place.  A consumer might find their way to the Warby Parker Facebook page and learn how the service works, get expert advice on choosing frames, and see many smiling happy customers sharing their photos all in one place.

What might the scenario have looked like using traditional media such as radio and television?  Surely these media might have introduced consumers to the idea of ordering glasses online and might even have shared customer testimonials, but I’m sure many of us have seen testimonials on television and wondered how much someone was paid to say what they did or why we should trust the opinion of someone we don’t know on TV.  I’m sure we’ve also all seen or heard ads and wondered if the information presented is still relevant.  Social media overcomes these issues by allowing us to get real-time feedback from consumers like ourselves.

Reducing Dissonance

Because Warby Parker introduced a radical new way to purchase prescription glasses, the company had to find ways to reduce the dissonance that was sure to follow.  We have all experienced dissonance at some point such as deciding whether to try a new curbside grocery pickup service and fearing the quality of our groceries will not be up to our standards if someone chooses them for us.  Dissonance is reduced in three ways:

  • Changing current beliefs
  • Introducing new beliefs
  • Making beliefs less important

Warby Parker reduces dissonance in several ways.  Encouraging customers to share pictures of their new glasses can help change beliefs that low-cost glasses must equate to poor quality.  If others are satisfied with their purchases, surely they received a quality product.  Offering information from experts can expose consumers to new ideas and information about purchasing glasses.  Perhaps a customer learns which frame shapes are most attractive with their face shape.  Additionally, allowing consumers to try on different glasses at home reduces the importance of having the option to try frames on in store.  Providing glasses for those in need when glasses are purchased can also influence dissonance.  Consumers may decide that while they can easily purchase glasses from a retailer, it is more important to make sure their purchase benefits a social cause and helps someone else who is in need.

While social media can be used to communicate new products and services to consumers, it can also be used for so much more!  The key is to realize the difference between communicating to an audience and communicating with them.  Warby Parker has demonstrated the power of engaging consumers and inviting them to become part of the conversation, which has helped the company to create a community.

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