What is Orkut?
“Orkut is an online community designed to help people connect, build relationships and create engaging communities around common interests.” (Keep Orkut Beautiful, 2006)
How to use Orkut:
Six steps to using Orkut:
1) Sign In- A user can sign in Orkut using his credentials from a current Google account, or he may create an Orkut account.
2) Profile- A profile allows each user to express themselves. They can add photos, interests, and any information they would like to share.
3) A user can look at the profiles of friends or people who are interested in connecting with him.
4) Users can send ‘scraps’ to their friends. Scraps may comprise of items such as photos and notes.
5) Users can create a photo album to upload their photos too. This would allow their friends to see their pictures.
6) Users can adjust their privacy settings to avoid unwanted people from viewing certain information from their profiles. (Contributor, 2012)
Pros and cons of Orkut:
- Scrapbook feature- allows users and their friends to add items to the users’ scrapbooks.
- Can add pictures and information such as “about me” like other social media forums.
- Helps users to find friends who are scattered and be in touch with them virtually.
- Testimonials are as good as recommendations section of LinkedIn. Orkut users can write testimonials for their friends, which when approved by the user for whom recommendation is written, gets posted on the wall of the user profile.
- Finding friends on Orkut is difficult. It lacks options to reduce the search results.
- Due to lack of popularity and marketing, it is not as commonly used as other social media like Facebook. This makes it difficult to find past friends you would like to reconnect with.
- It does not have the option of pages like Facebook. Instead, groups can be made with limited features.
- There are so many fake profiles; it makes it difficult for users to know which ones to trust.
- Not as user friendly when compared to its competitors. Instead of IMs and chatting on “walls”, there are posts that users can reply to. This reduces the feeling of having fluid conversations.
- There is no option to upload files (other than your picture) and create documents.
Use of Orkut in engaging users:
- Several small businesses started using Orkut for better understanding of customer’s perceptions of their brand as they could not afford advertising.
- Several automobile companies started using Orkut as a complaint board wherein they took customers complaint seriously as it was early warning of potential product or service issues.
- Large number of companies used this online platform to create and measure brand awareness about their product and services.
- Music companies started using Orkut communities as it was a powerful distribution channel as its effect can be viral.
- Universities started using Orkut communities to get feedback from students and students could rate their professors.
- In 2006, India and Pakistan were exposed to numerous hate groups formed on Orkut “with over 1000 groups dedicated to hating celebrities, politicians, math, and sports teams alongside nationalities and rival countries.” (India, Orkut, and the ‘balance of information’, 2006)
- “Shiv Sena” is a local political party in India which is very aggressive in its activities ordered its followers to attack the cyber cafes around the region, if cyber cafes didn’t stop their customers from accessing these Orkut communities, which ultimately led to riots as all the cyber café establishments did not follow the orders (Mishra, 2009). At that time there were no controls such as “report this” or “flag” options that would report the abuse of social media.
- The Shiv Sena also asked its supporters to flag these communities on Orkut, so that they could be banned. They created numerous fake profiles, ultimately leading Google to ban several profiles and communities on Orkut for a short period (Mishra, 2009).
Long term viability of platform:
Today people do not want to move from Orkut to Facebook because they have already created a social network on Orkut. But gradually their network is shifting to Facebook as Facebook is helping them do it by suggesting friends, people they might know, friend’s friend and encouraging them to find friends. Unless Orkut innovates, markets, and gives its early users a reason to come back it will surely lose out its users to a giant called Facebook.
Facebook versus Orkut:
|Total Users||955 million (2012)||41 million (2012)|
|Indian Users||52 million (2012) (Up from 5.5 million in 2005)||4 million in 2012(down from 15 millionin 2005)|
|Friends Search||- Less filters
+Multiple address books
|+More Filters-Only Gmail address book|
|Interface||+ Wall gives high visibility to happenings in network||- Spamming issues|
|+ More than 350 million application usersZynga’s relationship with Facebook was an added advantage||-Launched applicationsin 2010 but failed toengage users|
|Spamming/Abuses||+ Better Privacy Settings||- Poor PrivacySettings|
|Daily active users||+ 552 Million (2012)||- 9 Million|
|Visibility||+ Creates a brilliant viral effect||- Very poor in creating viral effect|
|Group/Fan Pages||+ Up to date and much better groups and fan pages allowing users to effectively communicate and see Member statistics.||- Limited number of peoplecan communicate in
- No Fan Pages
- No means to
+ Every update becomes a thread and hence engages users
+ Communication is isolated
|Activity||You can see your/friends activity on wall||No option for activity log|
|Testimonials||- No option for testimonials/recommendations||+ Option available|
(Facebook vs. Orkut in India) (Press, 2012) (India, Orkut, and the ‘balance of information’, 2006)
The table above compares Facebook with Orkut. While both communities were launched in the same year, it is quite obvious that their memberships vary drastically. Facebook has a significantly larger following than Orkut. Facebook has added features such as better privacy settings and fan pages that have increased its market share in the online community sector. To achieve longevity and increased market share, Orkut must not only meet the standards set by Facebook (an industry leader), but also create unique user friendly features that would encourage users to give Orkut a second chance.
India, Orkut, and the ‘balance of information’. (2006, October 16). Retrieved August 23, 2012, from OpenNet Initiative: http://opennet.net/blog/2006/10/india-orkut-and-balance-information
Keep Orkut Beautiful. (2006, October 3). Retrieved August 22, 2012, from Orkut: http://www.orkut.com/Main#About?page=keep
Contributor, a. e. (2012). How to Use Google Orkut. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from eHow tech: http://www.ehow.com/how_2221855_use-google-orkut.html
Facebook vs. Orkut in India. (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2012, from Ghumantu Batuta: http://naveenmeena.in/facebook-vs-orkut-in-india/
Mishra, G. (2009, February 28). Shiv Sena’s Orkut Campaign: The Limits to Freedom of Expression in an Intolerant India. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from Global Voices Advocacy Defending Free Speech Online: Shiv Sena’s Orkut Campaign: The Limits to Freedom of Expression in an Intolerant India
Press, T. A. (2012, July 26). Number of active users at Facebook over the years. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from boston.com: http://www.boston.com/business/technology/2012/07/26/number-active-users-facebook-over-the-years/OAsT5SjyrppzpgWLroa7ON/story.html