Going Global... Accidentally

In today's New York Times, there's a piece in the business section about the surprising international adoption and success of Google's social network service, Orkut.

The story is interesting at two levels. One, Orkut wasn't designed to jump the pond and get picked up with such eagerness in Brazil. I was an active member of the service when the Brazilians first arrived, and I think it's largely a matter of the right early adopters showing up — and then quickly establishing a large country- and language-oriented usage base. But what can we do in our businesses to encourage such avid response — without necessarily targeting specific international markets?

Secondly, the articles relatively quick turn to the dark side of social network services — Brazilian leaders are concerned about people stalking folks through the service, just as American are concerned about services like Facebook.

But, if it's true that the street will find its own use for things (thanks, William Gibson!), it's also true that people will find multiple and extremely focused uses for things. What business applications might Myspace and other social network services not specifically aimed at business users have deep inside that we just haven't picked up on yet?

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  • Craig Maginness

    Finding that your product or service has begun exporting itself because people in an untargted market are finding uses for it can be euphoic at first -- there's nothing like finding a bevy of customers without even looking. But when this phenomenon occurs, its important to quickly make the conversion from accidental exporter to a mode of intentionality. Otherwise you run a considerable risk of losing control of your intellectual property -- causing that euphoria to suddenly and unpleasantly morph into international litigation or worse.