[Guest Post] Is Multiply Leaving the Social?
It was only last year that I wrote here about two factors for successful internet-based applications in Indonesia: mobile and social. Multiply, a social networking service, established its South East Asia office in Jakarta last year, after their move towards e-commerce business. This move caused Multiply to be a unique social networking site: “Sharing & Shopping with your Friends” (as written on its homepage).
This move shows that Multiply cares about its users. Users are important stakeholders, because without users a system would not run, especially Web 2.0 system, where interactions between users are the building blocks to its information architecture. Multiply showed this attitude by acknowledging the existence of many South East Asian users who used the sharing features to sell products to other users. Multiply freed them from “TOS violator” status by introducing the e-commerce platform for them to use. Brilliant.
The transition seems to be smooth although not easy. Old members who sell were happy with the upgrade of their blogging profile to a shop profile, while still enjoying the blogging and social network features. So far, Multiply seems to be perfect. Its mobile interface is not bad, although lacking some features with a little glitch, but many users access Multiply through mobile web browsers.
Multiply started as a secure and family-friendly media sharing system, and even the founder targeted soccer moms as its audience. And who are the online sellers in Indonesia? Many of them are young mothers, because they can run their shops at home while taking care of their toddlers. They love the social sharing in Multiply, because they use it as a rich (stories, product reviews) way of interacting with customers. They even make friends with some (if not many) of their customers.
Through some users I got to know that Indonesian users have formed such a large community. Just like what I wrote in my last year article, many Indonesian social networking users interact with a large number of contacts (more than 150). The patented inbox system of Multiply apparently helps users to find updates from contacts and networks easily, thus it drives powerful conversations.
Now that Multiply decided to shut down social sharing features on 1st of December this year, where is it heading for? Especially now that Multiply decided to focus on South East Asian market (Indonesia and the Philippines). It is already difficult not to introduce “social” to a new system in Indonesia, and it is even more difficult to remove “social” from such a pleasantly functioning system.
UX building blocks by V. Roto, Nokia
I’d like to highlight some lessons learned from the UX point of view. First of all: know your users, and interact with them while using the system. In Multiply’s case, the system already run for years with very experienced Indonesian users while the newly hired staff in Jakarta were new to the system, creating lack of user understanding. Second: emotional design plays an important role. A system with a good UI design does not always deliver good experience. Third: do not underestimate the power of Web 2.0.
The series of User Experience (UX) posts is brought to you by Qonita Shahab, a researcher in UX who used to work in IT. Her interest in music and photography helps her in designing interactive system prototypes. Since she started research in the field of persuasive technology, Qonita studied more about social psychology and the communal use of technology. Follow her on Twitter @uxqonita.
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