The Power of Digital and Social Media in Brazil: A Case Study on Orkut

In continuation to the last blog post, I wanted to discuss another popular social networking site called Orkut, and how it was able to gain such popularity in Brazil.

It was initially launched in 2004 and named after its creator, Orkut Büyükkökten, who was a Google employee. Google-owned and operated the social networking site, and with a powerful company like that backing up Orkut, it’s no wonder it gained popularity rather quickly. However, most of its notoriety was found in the Brazilian market where 90% of its page views were accessed by users in the country.

The original purpose of Orkut was to be a place where users could find online communities through a keyword search. Within just four months of its debut, the site had over 50,000 communities created, and in a year, that rose to over a million communities. The company was popular with tech workers and students, and the site peaked in 2012 with 30 million users worldwide. The social networking site was “clean, simple, and sophisticated.”

Despite its shutdown in 2014, Orkut left behind a huge impression on the Brazilian market. As a country, Brazil is a strong market for online retailers with the country ranking as the fifth largest online market in the world. The Brazilian culture has a natural affinity towards digital and social media where the number of cell phones outnumbers the total population. In fact, 77% of Brazilian social media users have a positive viewpoint toward online shopping. Four-fifths of Brazilians use social media sites to research products and trust the opinions of other consumers. It should also be noted that outdoor advertising is illegal in the country, so this has led to an enormous growth in online marketing. This is big for other social networking sites and brands to know if they wish to succeed in the country’s market.

Orkut was phased out in 2014 in favor of other social networking sites that had better functionality such as fewer blockages, unlimited friends lists, and fewer difficulties with uploading and sharing photos. This is why it’s important for brands to stay on top of marketing evaluation and consumer feedback.

  1. How does the Brazilian culture speak to the brand experience of organizations and communities on Orkut? In a culture where brands must engage their fans on various digital platforms, what advice might you lend businesses about their future social media strategy?

As mentioned before, Brazil’s culture has a natural affinity towards the digital and social media landscape because the country values community. Brazilian families tend to be tight-knit and there is more emphasis on community rather than individualism, and Orkut provided the perfect site where Brazilians could engage with like-minded individuals in a set community as well as maintain important familial and friendly relationships. In order for a brand to be successful on various digital platforms, it’s important for there to be research on how that country/community interacts with one another. What do the consumers in that country expect out of their experience with interacting with a brand or company? That’s what marketing professionals should be asking themselves. Learn the communication style so nothing gets lost in translation.

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