Are Social Networks Failing? What made Google Kill Orkut? | DCR Workforce Blog

Are Social Networks Failing? What made Google Kill Orkut?

bye orkutCome September, all the personal networks, photos, videos and other information exchanges over a decade supported by Orkut will have to be ported out to other networks; or be lost forever! The reason: Google rang its death knell. Apparently, the lagging growth of Orkut communities against YouTube, Blogger, and Google+ communities was a major reason for the closing down of Orkut. Competitor Facebook’s phenomenal success in the same area may have also contributed further to the demise of Orkut – with a permanent message of “Bad, bad server. No donut for you”.

The power of social networks lies in the way they help people to forge connections, start conversations, seek support, reconnect with old friends or commit to lifelong learning and development. They can also help people with professional growth, culinary prowess, and health management. People invest their time, energy, emotions and even a part of themselves to their online profiles – often at the cost of other activities and hobbies.

There are people who say that Google’s own Google+ nearly cannibalized Orkut, eroding into its user base of 100 million in 2011, by offering far more ambitious and comprehensive services. The 23.8 million remaining people who now have to port out of Orkut to either Google+ or Facebook will not be able to transfer the social following they built over a decade – unless they devise ways to share contact information in order to replicate their existing connections on Orkut. Are you listening, App-developers?

Why Social Media Sites Succeed or Fail?

Social media sites are following the path taken by most innovation. A pioneer introduces something new and it catches on. Soon, dozens of “clones” pop up. Over time, many are unable to sustain their initial popularity, and disappear, leaving a smaller number of stronger options. How can we predict which will succeed or fail?

The success of the “big three” – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – can be attributed in part to their positioning. LinkedIn is aimed at supporting business connections and is viewed as the overwhelming best choice for finding jobs and employees. Facebook enables communication between families and friends. Twitter offers a vehicle to comment on topics of common interest, such as music, news, technology,and sports. Followers on Twitter are more likely to be brand advocates than fans on Facebook. These differentiated audiences, missions, and areas of focus have resulted in sustained interest.

With the closing of Google Buzz, Google Wave and Orkut; Google appears to be moving into a competitive mode to give Facebook a run for its money. We need to wait and see what Google+ will ultimately offer: marketing; review and feedback from one’s own groups and networks; GPS support and driving directions; new friends and acquaintances based solely on one’s interests, and automatic co-opting to Gmail and YouTube. It has the formidable advantage of offering free video chats for groups (move over Skype) and interaction and information sharing without emails or text messages, discussion forums, hangouts, and circles which make it so much easier to post to targeted audiences.

Operational quality also has a great deal to do with social site “staying power”. Some common errors that result is drastic membership declines include:

  • Technical difficulties. ‘Bad, bad server. No donut for you!’ is neither funny not acceptable – especially when it pops up one too many times – and can go a long way to drive serious followers to the competition
  • Too many hate groups promoting negativity towards other races, religions and ethnic groups
  • Having strangers join groups because one or more members decide to increase the size of their following
  • Fake users posting spam on the network
  • Complex, frustrating and slow user interfaces
  • Privacy concerns and security issues
  • Lack of innovative, on-going efforts to engage users
  • Lack of avenues for revenue generation to off-set operational costs

In an effort to build upon the explosive growth in popularity experienced in the pioneering days of social networking, most sites are continuously attempting to expand their services and reach new audiences. Not all of these efforts have been successful. We can expect to continue to see features – and sites – quickly dropped when they fail to gain traction. Sites whose initial success is tied to reaching huge numbers of individual members have often found it more difficult to gain that same level of popularity with businesses. LinkedIn alone, through their exclusive focus on professional interactions, has enjoyed tremendous success in this space. As corporations look to build upon their social marketing and recruiting investments, they must carefully weigh the value that each social site can bring.

For all who are enjoying the use of social networking services, we can expect even greater benefits in terms of exciting new services that are driven by increased levels of competition.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.