Everybody is busy today. Some people are busy with their work, some of them with their families and some of them are busy doing nothing but everyone is busy. So it is natural that you may not know what your best friend is up to after he moved to Mumbai or what is happening in your favorite cousin’s life cause he is so busy making his career. You may also like making new friends and see what is up with your favorite Band or actor or sportsperson. A Social Networking website fortunately, covers all the above needs. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, are all such websites which make it possible for you to know what your loved ones are doing, finding new loved ones and also making sure that your loved ones know about you. Google’s Orkut, was one such website. Unfortunately, it is not there anymore. It saw its last day on 30th September, 2014. Only 10 years old, died very young. There was a time in India, before Facebook came into picture when everyone who knew about social networking was on Orkut. Even I started social networking with Orkut. Everyone was happy with it but then all of a sudden it saw a sudden decline in its users. Let’s find out why did this happen.
Orkut wasn’t evolving fast enough. If compared to Facebook, the user interface of Orkut was a little complicated and didn’t come up with new features as fast as Facebook. If you observe, Facebook keeps coming up with minor changes all the time which shows us that Facebook gave importance even to the smallest things which made the experience for the user better, the option of showing ‘how you are feeling?’ while posting a status is one such example. Also ‘Scrapbook’ which was a public chat option on Orkut which was similar to the wall on Facebook was not as much fun as it is on Facebook. Privacy settings of Orkut was also one of the issues. It had very basic settings and didn’t think about a situation where different people would want different settings. Because of this people started moving to Facebook. Scaling up was also an issue. The initial version of the website had too many technical issues ad it wasn’t made a serious project but only as a pet project which People in Google are allowed to do. Even after it became popular there were still issues and users could find the famous error page ‘no donut for you’ too many a times. This just proved that for a huge company like Google where simultaneously there are multiple projects taking place Orkut was just another pet project and hence wasn’t given attention that it ideally deserved. Orkut also could not come up with a concrete strategy of monetizing itself. Like Facebook has successfully made it possible for advertisers to post ads and not particularly spoil the experience for the users. Orkut never had a plan as to how will it start making money and therefore from the early stages it was clueless about this issue. Even when it was doing well in 2009 it didn’t have a plan to make money from advertisements or any other source.
Learnings: Internet has made the world smaller than we can even imagine. One can talk to her friend in Greece while sitting in China and order food from a place from somewhere in the city and also give a review about it on social media. But there is a negative side to it as well from an organization’s point of view. If you falter at any moment be ready to bear the brunt on social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter etc. Even these websites aren’t saved from the public outcry. They have to manage issues related to privacy, experience given to the users and make sure that no public sentiment is hurt. The biggest learning here is that for a social networking website experience of the user is everything. Things should only get simpler and better for a user which Facebook has successfully managed to do so far. Also, a long term view as to how will the website be scaled up and how will it generate revenue should be thought of. Snapchat had a plan and we can finally see It in action with short advertisements already started in the western countries which generate revenue for it.