orkut and Google – Wasting my Time!

Yesterday I noticed something new in my Google Account Settings page.
An invitation to try a Google service for groups called “orkut”
(with a small “o”).

The instructions were to log in with my Google name and password.
Thinking of a group of people I know who have a communications problem, I thought I should investigate. I tried. No luck. Deep in the help screens, it said you have to be “invited” to join by an existing member. Well OK, if those are the rules then fine – BUT – if so, why then are Google advertising “Try it” on the Google Members Accounts Settings pages?

I wrote and sent a quite long, very pleasant message via the orkut support
system asking this question. I received the following reply . . .

“Thanks for contacting orkut.com. Due to the tremendous amount of mail we
receive, we’re currently unable to personally answer all our email. If
you need personal assistance, please reply to this email with a
detailed description of the problem you are experiencing.”

I’d just done exactly that!

Of course I needed personal assistance!

This is why I had written and sent a detailed explanation of what I was experiencing and asking for their advice or help in the first place! I don’t put in that much time, just for fun. No, I hadn’t kept a copy either, I wrote it in their “contact us” web interface. So, getting annoyed now, I wrote it ALL out again and sent it a second time!

This morning I received (in full) . . .

“Hi Steve,

Thanks for your note. We’re flattered that you would like to join orkut
and we appreciate your interest. We apologize for the confusion you have
experienced and we’ll keep your feedback in mind as we work to improve the
Google Account interface.

To join orkut.com, please ask someone you know who’s already an orkut
member to invite you. At this time, we’re not sending out individual

The orkut user base began with its creator, Orkut Buyukkokten, who invited
his friends to join. They in turn invited their friends, and soon the
network was born. While we’d love to include everyone who wants to join,
we’re trying to ensure that orkut remains a close-knit community of

Stay beautiful,



So in other words . . . “We’re trying to
grow our network, we’ve got some sort of tie-up or tie-in with Google,
we’re advertising the service on pages for Google Members but you
can’t actually join!” (Or even find out how it works and/or exactly what it does either, by the way.)

Google – it’s time YOU guys sorted this out, get the Orkut people to respond better to serious and reasoned enquiries especially as you’re putting your name to this service. Next, remove “Try it” until it’s actually available to test directly from your link! I have to add, this is very unlike Google (of whom I am a huge fan) but what a waste of my time.

Regular readers will know I make my living by specialising in Marketing and New Media. If you’re after Viral Marketing it can be a great route to gain new members. If however, viral methods are the ONLY way you’re allowing new members to join, there is no point in advertising; in fact it’s highly counter-productive!

Next, if someone takes considerable time and trouble to write at some length to you and has clearly had a less-than-perfect experience to date, don’t end your reply with “Stay Beautiful”! It may be part of the Hippy image – I’m put in mind of when, in the mid-90s, “Tribal Voice” were developing “Pow Wow” and a Native American used to drop into the office to chant spells and spread good karma amongst the programers – but these days, if ever there was a red rag this is it. Have several standard emails by all means, but choose one that is appropriate to the tenor of the message to which you are replying. This is CRM rule 1!

If anyone from Orkut and/or Google wishes to reply in more depth, I’ll happily publish your reply, unedited and uncut, here. Use MY Web Response Form – I promise you a swift, polite, personal and appropriate reply.


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