Orkut: A Disappearing Act

Everyone that has seen a magician perform loves the mystery and intrigue behind each one of their tricks. We are attracted to what we cannot explain, which is why the disappearing act was so popular. People would ask themselves “How could something so big be here one second and gone the next?”. The same could be said about the rapid decline and disappearance of Brazil’s social media giant, Orkut.

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What is Orkut?

Orkut is a social media networking site that launched in 2004. It is owned and operated by Google and named after its creator, Orkut Büyükkökten, who was a Google employee. The platform gained traction in Brazil and eventually would have 30 million users on it by 2012. The growth was caused by the simple things Orkut did well for their consumers. They made their user interface clean, simple, and easy to navigate. Being backed by Google gave them credibility and speed up adoption among the people. They also did a fantastic job creating buzz around it by making it invite only at the beginning, which made it be perceived as a status symbol for being on the platform. With all this going for Orkut it is hard to imagine how it could all disappear like it was never even there….

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What Went Wrong?

Orkut simply forgot to evolve and meet the needs of the market that they were serving. Becoming a large platform isn’t enough to sustain you over the long haul and the ability to adapt is critical to the longevity of the platform. Orkut had trouble with a multitude of features that their audience was clamoring for. The amount if friends it allowed you to have was capped at a certain number, it was difficult to upload and share photos, and the way it handled video was downright atrocious. This led people to look to other platforms that better fit their needs such as Facebook. Once this began it was only a matter of time before it became a barren wasteland as consumers completely abandoned their accounts.

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The Ta-Da

The magic in this lesson can be broken down to its most essential core message, learn to adapt or cease to exist. Reading your audience and learning about the upcoming features and technologies your consumers want is crucial to the survival of your business. By neglecting to follow the innovation of the market, you are actively choosing to set your business up to one day disappear. That is one trick that I’m sure many business owners would not want to be a part of.

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Weixin: The 7-Layer Dip of Social Media

As human beings we all have an affinity to getting the most “bang for your buck”, colloquially speaking. Everyone is always looking for the next thing that can do more for them while also giving them back more time. Whoever can accomplish this task always ends up on the top of the totem pole and in the Chinese social media world no one has become the embodiment of that statement better than Weixin.

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Weixin (pronounced way-shin) is a social media behemoth that dominates China’s social media market. It’s like your dad’s famous 7-layer dip of the social media world because it tries to pack in everything you’ll need with an elegance that will surprisingly shock you. It has all the same feature and elements that you love in other apps in a one stop shop such as:

  • Calling
  • Texting
  • Messaging (Private or Group)
  • Send Documents
  • Post Pictures
  • Send money

With all of those features and more it is no wonder why Weixin/WeChat has over 1.1 billion accounts, 902 million active daily users, and 38 billion messages sent every day. Clearly, they were able to capitalize on the market and become a massive success but the question on everyone’s mind is




What Weixin realized early on is that if you can be where ever the audience’s attention will be then you have the opportunity to convert them into users. Basically, give the consumer what they want and continue to find ways to integrate yourself into their daily habits. They made sure to analyze what was important to the lives of their users and tailored the company’s plans to make the platform more beneficial for them. One example of this was their Red Envelope Campaign.


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With its large Chinese user base, Weixin knew that the tradition of receiving red envelopes filled with undisclosed amounts of money was an extremely popular tradition in the culture (the practice is done to signal good luck and prosperity in the coming year). Weixin, with its money sending capabilities, recognized an opportunity to become an integral part of the tradition every year. It built in the ability to send your friends and family members red envelopes directly from the app. The company also realized by making it fun it will encourage users to tell others about the feature and increase usage. To do this they made it have a game like appeal, where Weixin allowed the users to put a sum of cash into an envelope and distribute it, split up randomly, in various amounts to the people you selected. This removed the hassle of them having to send these letters on their own and also saved them time since they could do it from a platform they were already using.


What Does This Tell Us?

What Weixin has done was provides an important example of what every company should be doing. Find out the needs and wants of your consumers day to day, then build enough value that they can’t live without it. Once you find out where their attention is going to be it becomes easy to capitalize on it. As for my attention…you’ll probably find it by the 7-layer dip.

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Cyberactivism ≠ Real Activism

Cyberactivism ≠ Real Activism


The recent explosion of the internet has given us so many great things. It has given us food on demand, a ride at the push of a button, and connected us in more ways than we ever dreamed possible. Activists have also harnessed this power and found a way to influence large amounts of people to create awareness for their cause. Thus, Cyberactivisim was born *cue birthday music and immediate parental pride*. Marketers for these Non-Profits knew that if they could create a campaign that was intriguing enough to the general public then would have the opportunity to have more to fund their cause.

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Susan G. Komen’s Breast Cancer Awareness Meme

Susan G. Komen knew that for them to spread awareness about breast cancer, they would have to connect with people where they were at. They did this by creating a social media campaign that was catchier than 90’s pop music. Females were asked to put a single color as their status update. The message asked females to choose a color that was the same as the bra that they were wearing. They were also able to create a fun atmosphere by keeping the campaign only known by women.

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Did People Care?

While the campaign did a fantastic job in getting the participation and awareness it was looking for it failed on actually receiving an increase in donations. You can simply chalk it up to there being no requirement to donate so that they could eliminate friction from people participating. To increase user base mobilization in their future campaigns, they would need to incentivize the user base. By finding sponsors that will take a day of the month and match donations up to a certain amount would definitely give the participants that good ol’ kick in the rear that will get them to open up their wallets to a good cause.

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Actual Mobilization

Companies want their message to spark change in their target audience and move them to action. Doing so creates loyal consumers as they will be emotionally invested.  What companies and non-profits need to learn from this is that awareness without action isn’t helpful to your cause. Those kinds of campaigns only serve to make your cause the latest fad and will not drive change in the way that they want it to go. Hopefully Susan G. Komen will recognize this and in future campaigns tailor it in a manner that will encourage their consumers to make a difference.

Warby Parker: Eyeglass Gangsters

The Start

When you think about what business could benefit from the power of social media, I highly doubt a company that deals in prescription glasses come to mind. Warby Parker, on the other hand, could care less about what you thought and used the power of social media to disrupt an industry that had no clue there was an issue. Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider (Warby Parker founders) were completely fed up with the prescription eyeglass industry and the friction that came along with attempting to purchase any set of frames. They knew that they could fix some of the major issues that plagued them and their fellow glass wearing compatriots, issues like:

• Eye doctors require advance appointments
• High prices of frames and lenses
• Having to go to showrooms to get them

Online Distribution FTW

The rise of the internet gave Warby Parker the perfect tools to demolish the competition. It allowed the company direct access to the consumer. By going straight to the customer, it allowed them to eliminate the headaches that not only them, but other consumers were feeling as well. I could only imagine the look of relief on the customers face when they realized that there was another way to get their glasses.

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It wasn’t just enough for the consumer to know of their existence though. Like a smoker, the customers had to break their bad habits with the current way things were being done. This is where social media took matters into their own hands.

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Social Media to Save the Day

Warby Parker knew that in order for them to break the perpetual cycle that current consumers were stuck in, they would need to understand their frustrations and relieve their potential concern. Luckily for them, the internet was stacking the chips in their favor again. The rise of social media allowed them to interact with their customer base in a manner that was never seen before in the industry. They were able to dispel concerns over quality and their affordable prices by engaging with the consumer, showing them the how the industry operated and sharing the story of why they were different. They also found out to use social media to their advantage when it came to customers worrying about being able to test out frames before they buy. By allowing customers to try 5 frames at a time via their “Home Try-on Campaign” and encouraging them to post it on social media after they purchase one it allowed the consumer to feel more connected with the brand gaining them the loyalty of the customer.

What More Do You Need???

Warby Parker has shown that they have been fighting for the consumer and trying to make it a fair fight when it comes to the eyewear industry. Not only are they consumer centric but they also make a donation to charity for each pair of glasses that are sold, something that warms the heart of even the coldest of grinches. By teaming up with the company VisionSpring, the company is able to provide a pair of eyeglasses for a person in need for every pair of Warby Parker glasses that a consumer purchases. To date, Warby Parker has given away 500,000 pairs of glasses which makes it even better that your money is going further than private jets. If you haven’t taken a look at this company yet and you’re in the market for new glasses the question is, what’s stopping you?