Why Brazil Loves Orkut!
Danny Sullivan made a post today at Search Engine Watch quoting a USA Today piece on the alarming amount of Al-Qaeda “fan” groups in Google’s Orkut. Anytime one talks about Orkut the Brazilian phenomina is discussed which centers around why is Orkut so popular in Brazil?
Danny posted on Search Engine Watch after Google Analyst Day : “My favorite part is probably the explanation of why Orkut only seems to be taking off in Brazil. “Brazilians are just very community-oriented.” What, all those crazy US kids jumping into MySpace like my niece don’t have a sense of community?”
I’ve been thinking about this myself lately and took the liberty of speaking with some Orkut loving Brazilians, my wife (who is from Brazil), representatives from Google Japan (there are over 100,000 wired Brazilians living in Japan) and others about Orkut and came up with this list:
1. Brazilians are incredibly community oriented and refer to groups as Tribalistas, or tribos. People tend to associate with these groups in everyday conversation and continuously refer to how they are Heavy Metal fans, Evangelical Christians, Sambistas, Macumberos, PT supporters, or whether they prefer Skol to Kaiser.
Social Networking caught on really quick in Brazil because of this relevance to everyday life. There is definitely more of a coolness factor to social networking in Brazil.
2. Orkut is very easy to pronounce in Portuguese. Try telling someone from Brazil to go to Friendster.com or MySpace. The names of those sites are lost in translation. When someone pronounces “Orkut” in Portuguese (especially Brazilian Portuguese with the heavy incluence on the “ch” T sound), they can easily spell it, visualize the word and remember it next time they get infront of the computer.
3. Orkut sounds like Yakult or “iogurte” (yogurt). Yakult is the Brazilian version of the popular Japanese Yakult yogurt drink. Everyone drinks it in Brazil when they’re kids. There is a totally unintentional instant association between the words Orkut, Iogurte and Yakut in Brazil.
4. Brazilians with constant Internet access are on the upper echelon of “differencia social.” Although Brazilians are some of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met, they are quite cautious when meeting others and inviting them into their circle of friends.
By using a service like Orkut, users can prequalify the new friends they make by judging their ability to access the Internet, write and read correctly, and see which friends they share.
5. The fact that Orkut is now associated with Brazil has added flame to the popularity fire. This is a country which is quite proud of their culture, economic position in South America, and World Domination of Soccer (futbol). Now, they are proud to have Orkut as their own.
6. Mobility – Many young professionals or just younger Brazilians in general have moved from Sao Paulo to Curitiba, Floripa and other bustling southern Brazilian towns (not to mention Miami, New York, Washington DC, Italy, Spain, and Japan). Social Networking is a way to keep in touch with groups of friends much easier than mass emails.
7. A large number of Brazilians access the Internet from Internet Cafes and online gaming cafes. Orkut has grown in popularity due to this mobility factor. One can access their accounts from anywhere.
8. I’ve noticed with some Brazilians, especially women, there is a lot of competitiveness when it comes to attracting attention (this could be universal of course). The awards, fan citations and friendship offerings in Orkut just fuel this tendency. It’s also cool to have Orkut ‘friends’ from Europe, the US, and Japan on your profile.
9. Again, Yakut and pronunciation. When I told the people at Google about the pronunciation factor they seemed amazed. Google is beginning to enjoy the same compatibilty with the Portuguese language. Not to say Yahoo does not, and Hotmail certainly does, but the Google hip factor has made “goo-gly” a new part of the Brazilian Portuguese language and its association with Orkut is beginning to lead to Google and GMail converts.
10. Orkut’s color scheme is the same as the Brazilian World Cup team’s away jerseys (or is it home? the BLUE ones). This is going out on a limb however, since the color is also similar to Argentina’s flag and uniform colors.
11. Lack of advertising. Most Brazilians I know are sick of advertising. Outdoor billboards, political radio infomercials, ads painted on walls, cars driving around with loud speakers on top, people selling water or Silvio Santos Tele Sena lotto tickets clapping their hands at the gate outside of the house – referred to as Poluicao Visual. Orkut has no advertising, yet :)