Experience Management Blog

The #BRICsocbiz Monthly: January 2012

The #BRICsocbiz Monthly details monthly updates and happenings across social platforms popular in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. In an ever-changing global social business and economic landscape, it is Dachis Group’s belief that multinational corporations should remain aware of the social business opportunities and challenges that await them in some of the world’s most promising emerging markets. Here’s the scoop for January:

Brazil

Orkut

  • The Facebookers are Coming – Probably the biggest news of the month in the region, Comscore recently reported that, for the first time, Facebook received more monthly unique visitors than Orkut (it should be noted the jump took place in December and the data was released in January). Looking at trends from the past year, the leap seemed imminent and reinforces Facebook’s increasing global appeal. No less, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues (I suspect so) and what measures Orkut will take to remain relevant in the market.
  • Community Command Central – Focused on creating strong communities with high-levels of interaction, Orkut announced platform updates that ease user and moderator experiences. Most notably, the changes provide both parties a centralized stream to monitor the communities they are part of and topics they find interesting. With these filters in place, active branded communities may stand to gain engagement from feverish advocates who wish to closely follow multiple topics.
  • Apps on Apps on Apps – Orkut has been busy improving the capabilities of and expanding their mobile offerings in recent months.  In January they announced an update to their Android App, enabling users on-the-go access to the all of their Orkut communities. They also released Version 2.0.0 of their iPhone/iPod Touch app, which includes basic, but essential features for their users who live life on the go. Mobile will be a key channel to watch in Orkut’s quest for continued relevancy amongst its users.

Noteworthy

  • In Da Club – Speaking of Facebook’s rising prominence in Brazil, one Brazilian entrepreneur wants to make the social scene more social.
  • SBS de Rio – Dachis Group announced a date change for our 2012 Social Business Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Rio Summit now takes place on May 9th and you can request an invite here.

Russia

VKontakte

  • Faceshift? – According to Russia Today, VK is intent on making a splash outside of Russian borders and one way the social network is preparing for expansion is by enhancing their logo to give it a more familiar look. RT has gone so far as to say that the new logo “bears a strong resemblance to “big brother” Facebook.” If this is the case, only time will tell whether this tactic will drive a positive brand association and enable them to forge into foreign markets. Do you think it will work?
  • The Day the Music Died? – While American Internet companies were battling PIPA and SOPA on Capitol Hill, VKontakte was in the midst of (what would eventually prove) a losing copyright battle against Russian Gala Records. The difficulty involved with policing user-actions was a key concern for U.S. companies fighting the legislation and, in a similar light, the Russian social network took a small blow for what the court deemed to be inadequate policing of users sharing copyrighted content.  Could this open the door for foreign precedent to be cited in future U.S. lawsuits?
  • IPOn hold – Reading between the lines of this Moscow Times reports, speculation abounds around the time frame of VKontakte’s initial public offering. Stay tuned.

Noteworthy

  • New “Microbloving” Channel – Russian Internet conglomerate Mail.ru apparently didn’t want to be left out of the microblogging game and entered the space with the launch of Futubra. If my translation is accurate, the company’s mission is to “Make life more interesting!” and they plan to do so by allowing users to subscribe to “Both famous and interesting people and your friends, share pictures and interesting video, organize meetings, read the news from the world of technology, sports, fashion and entertainment, and discuss them with your friends and associates.” Sound familiar? Moving forward, they apparently amassed 17K users in one day. Assuming the unlikely, keeping this pace would mean 6.2MM users in a year. I guess crazier things have happened.

India

Orkut

  • The last two bullet points from the Orkut updates listed above under Brazil also affect users in India.

Noteworthy

  • Censorship in India (and elsewhere) – For different reasons, forces both internal and external to India are concerned with government defectors active in social channels.  Internally, there are government threats to “[Pull] a China” being aimed at Google and Facebook–the two most visited sites in all of India. Given a tall order, the Internet giants have been asked to remove “offensive and objectionable” content or risk the consequences. Externally, and signifying at least a slight willingness to cooperate with concerned nations, Twitter launched a new policy that provides for censorship on a country-by-country basis. This announcement affects users across the globe, but has sparked considerable outrage and buzz in India–the world’s second most populous country. We’ll be watching closely to see how these measures affect activity and traffic in the region.
  • Social Burnout – Thinking about a running a Youth Marketing campaign to engage teens in India? Not so fast. ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) recently released survey results which claim “Youngsters in urban India have started experiencing social-media fatigue.” Worth a read, the report makes some fairly damning indictments on the state of social amongst Indian youth. No less, this report shouldn’t deter brands from dabbling in the market, it should inform your approach. There remains plenty of potential and opportunity for those who are determined to creatively engage their audience. To start your brainstorm, check out recent research from Nielsen which suggests that company interaction and an aspirational brand may be the keys to the social castle in India.

China

Renren Guangjie

  • Renrenterest? – Renren is expanding their social platform by allowing users to pin images to their site. Take a look at the above link and you may be surprised that it eerily resembles one of America’s fastest growing social platforms: Pinterest. We’re under the belief that some Chinese netizens have knowledge of Pinterest and we’re curious about how this will affect Guangjie’s ability to gain traction. Renren already has a sizable audience at it’s disposal, but will users take the bait in turn for a more unified personal social presence or will they chose to go with the market pioneer? Even if Chinese users do opt for Pinterest, will they soon be stymied by a government ban of the channel?

Sina Weibo

Noteworthy

  • Ain’t nothing like your Real Name, Baby – Seems like Chinese microblog users are going to be required to provide their real name in exchange for the ‘privilege’ to participate.  As the BBC reports, the Chinese government plans to pilot a program in five cities that will require users to post under their real names, with the ultimate goal of mandating the policy upon all new and existing microbloggers throughout the country. Long criticized by Western governments for their limits on free speech, this move by the Chinese government isn’t particularly shocking. As the plan comes to fruition, could a social buzzkill be the price for the government’s desired state of authentication?
  • Shout-out East – The staff over at Penn Olson deserves an abundance of credit for the admirable job they are doing at covering social in China. Self-dubbed as ‘Asia Tech News for the World,’ numerous Google and Twitter search queries seeking ‘China AND Social Business OR Social Media’ oft-lead me to them as a source. Many props. FYI, you can consume from their trove here and follow them here.

The BRIC world is BIG: what key events in January did I miss? Tell me in the comments below and/or by tweeting VKontakte and VKontakte using the hashtag #BRICsocbiz.