Marketing Lessons from Orkut

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By: Katherine W. Morse, July 2019

“Social media play[s] a fundamental role in changing the nature of communications within and without organizations.  Immersion in Internet-based social media allows people to communicate with hundreds and thousands of others (Rocha, Janen, Lofti & Riberio, 2013)…”  Owned and operated by Google, Orkut was launched in 2004 with being shut down in September 2014 as a social networking site (Mahoney & Lang, 2017, p. 192).  This social networking by the Turkish-born software engineer, Orkut Büyükkökten, never caught on in the United States; however, it is vast in Brazil (Kugel, 2006).  They had a successful marketing plan in there ten years.

The majority of Orkut users were interested in finding classmates and friends through joining groups and the ability to utilizes the site for marketing purposes (Mahoney & Lang, 2017, p. 192).  Brazil and India took to Orkut for several reasons.  Orkut brought social networking to both countries but offered lessons to companies when it comes to being an Internet service for networking (Bhasin, 2018). 

The question is, what are the lessons that can be learned?  One of the experiences was a clean, simple, and sophisticated interface that made it easy to navigate to join communities (Mahoney & Lang, 2017, p. 192).  Other lessons were the ability to rate friends along with other users from how sexy, cool, or trustworthy (Mahoney & Lang, 2017, p. 192) when you consider how Facebook, for example, uses reactions similarly without the use of a rating scale. 

Orkut was the first movers purchased by Google and could take advantage (Bhasin, 2018).   In the long run lost, by more effective competition (Bhasin, 2018), in this case, Facebook starting in 2010 with 12.4 million to 36 million a year later (Fox, 2012).  One of the excellent illustrations is how the connection works and since advertising outdoors is banned that allowed for online marketing to grow (Mahoney & Lang, 2017, p. 192).  As Orkut grew from 2004, and in 2008, Google decided to hand over its management and operations to Google Brazil (Ananth, 2014). 

Another lesson is staying in business after the novelty did not last (Bhasin, 2018).   The issue with Orkut, like on Facebook, lost its novelty (Bhasin, 2018).   Even by dominating the viral effect by lack of privacy, brand building, and advertising on fan pages that Orkut did not offer (Bonfils, 2011).  Orkut has issues like other social media networks.  Spammers were able to modify the privacy norms of Orkut, along with anti-spam filters (Bhasin, 2018).  The success initially began with being able to bridge the digital divide in Brazil and India and ended by Google (Ananth, 2014) resulted in the ability for others to come into the market down the line.  


Ananth, V.  (2014).  The Rise, Fall and Subsequent Death of Orkut.  Livemint.

Bhasin, H. (2018).  7 Marketing Lessons from Orkut.  Marketing91.

Bonfils, M. (2011).  Why Facebook is Wiping Out Orkut in India & Brazil.  Search Engine Watch.

Fox, Z. (2012).  Facebook Finally Beats Google’s Orkut … in Brazil.  Mashable.

Kugel, S. (2006).  Google’s Orkut Captivates Brazilians.  The New York Times.

Mahoney, L., & Tang, T. (2017). Chapter 11: Social Media for Social Behavior Change. In Strategic Social Media from Marketing to Social Change (p. 192-193). Malden, MA: Wiley.

Rocha, T. V., Jansen, C. L. S., Lofti, E., & Ribeiro Fraga, R. (2013). An Exploratory Study on the use of Social Networks in Building Customer Relationships. Revista Brasileira de Gestão de Negócios15(47), 262–282.

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