Go forth and Multiply!

Go forth and multiply.

This is probably one of the most famous lines in the bible. It also reminds me of rabbits, but that is an entirely different discussion than the one that I have in mind.

Over the centuries, rabbits have been consistent and earnest in their obedience to God's mandate.

I have no idea if the bible had anything to do with the naming of the social networking site, Multiply. Still, I think the basic premise is the same. Go out there and increase your networks, your contacts, your friends.  Multiply has been around since 2004 and has attracted millions of users from around the world.

This website has been on my mind ever since I read one of my friend’s blog about the demise of friendster (see http://slightlydillydallying.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/the-fall-of-friendster/). I was reminded of the time when there was no Facebook, and the competition was between Friendster and Multiply (at least in the Philippines, it was).  I couldn’t help but compare the two different paths each SNS has taken.

As my friend mentioned in her blog, Friendster has taken a turn for the worst and its users are declining rapidly. The steps it had taken to address this problem have not been particularly successful. Meanwhile, Multiply has taken a very different approach, and I believe that it has been effective.  

In the beginning, Multiply seemed to have been veering  towards the same direction as Friendster. Like Friendster, it had started to integrate similar Facebook components (ex. chat bar, shout outs, etc.) It may have, or it may have not affected the next step taken by Multiply, but users expressed negative feedback regarding this “copycatting”.

After a while, Multiply stopped with this particular track of mind and developed a different way of tackling the problem at hand.

Audience, where are thou?

Entrepreneur Magazine Cover

Multiply and Friendster had the same target audience (the young and tech-happy people). That is the reason why, once upon a time; they were competing against each other. Facebook then came along and stole the show. We all know Facebook attracted all kinds of ages, all kinds of niches, and all kinds if personalities. This left leaving both Multiply and Friendster bereft.

Friendster stuck to its target, but Multiply changed theirs. Multiply turned its sights to online sellers and shoppers. These people have already started to prevail the Multiply kingdom even before Facebook came along, and Multiply decided to focus on them more rather than stick to a market that Facebook has already dominated.

Changing the gameface

I suppose it is rather inevitable for Multiply to change its image and reputation. You might even say that they changed their function in the digital arena. More than a social networking site, Multiply turned itself into an online market; a haven for online sellers and a one-stop shop for online shoppers.

Multiply created supplements to accommodate their new image. For example; they allowed users to officially name themselves as an “Online Seller”. They created a directory for all of these sellers for shoppers to easily access. This directory was divided into different shop categories, like books, clothing, accessories, and more.  Sellers are even promoted through their Featured Sellers section.

Currently, Multiply is fortifying its new image. They are creating even more ways to establish their new image. Just recently, a Multiply Bazaar was held at Rockwell, where online sellers and shoppers were able to meet, create networks, and strengthen relationships. 

Never cut off the roots

According to Jim Collin’s book, How the Mighty Fall, one must never let go of one’s core wheel. You can go try other things, but never forget what made you great in the first place. I am very glad that Multiply has heeded this line (I’m not sure if they read the book, though). According to Claudio Pinkus, the Multiply Executive chairman, focusing on Online shoppers and sellers does not mean that they are totally forgetting their social usage. Instead, they will become a “social shopping site”.

Multiply has also not forgotten the other things that have made them successful, which were the excellent media capabilities that they had. By continuing to maximize this, they are still able to attract other users besides online sellers and users. They might even garner a new market (artists, photographers, etc).

Me in the future (when I already have a credit card)

Right now, Multiply has over 19 million Multiply users. There are about 41,000 online shops and a survey showed that 65 percent of Multiply users buy stuff from online shops.

This only shows how Multiply has turned itself around and successfully manoeuvred itself from a crisis. To some, these actions may seem like raising a white flag in defeat to a bigger opponent. Actually, it is simply a smart move that would create bigger opportunities to the organization in the long run.

With these strategies; they, themselves, can continue going forth and multiplying.

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8 Responses to Go forth and Multiply!

  1. Gel says:

    I love this post.

    First, because you integrated trend with strategy (in Multiply’s case, that is).

    I don’t know if you’re an online shopper yourself but that’s very keen observation! There was a time when Multiply wanted to shrug off Multiply-based online shops. Multiply then was populated with barkada pictures and travel blogs, so the budding online market might seem off key. But due to the sellers multiplying themselves, and, in part, because of Facebook, Multiply decided to legitimize the online shopping community. That’s a brilliant move, really. Just as the cliche goes, if you can’t beat them, join them! Multiply must thank that brave person who first thought of utilizing his/her personal site for e-commerce – that kind of helped in building Multiply’s “uniqueness” – which Friendster never really got to experience. Friendster is still trying to grapple with their lost. I just hope they find their “ore” soon.

    Second, I love this post simply because of the rabbits. Haha. Very cute! 🙂

  2. slightlydillydallying says:

    I should say that Multiply’s decision to shift gears is something that did not only salvage them from demise but also did change their online reputation. I don’t have a Multiply account but I do purchase items there from time to time. What overtly separates Multiply from Facebook is the fact that its (Multiply’s) interface suits the needs of online entrepreneurs. It’s digital strategy capitalizes on the demands of sellers. Without doing so, it would fall just like Friendster.

    Thanks for linking my site! (www.slightlydillydallying.wordpress.com)

  3. Hi Eya! I have to say this is an interestingly witty post. Keep it up! 🙂

    Regarding the idea of “going forth and multiplying”, if I remember correctly what we talked about in church, this commandment is pertaining to us, being and making disciples of Jesus and not really us, reproducing. It’s like populating the world not with ‘humans’ per se, but with ‘believers and followers’ of the Lord. And rightly so, we must go forth and multiply! 🙂

    Anyway, for the social media- relevant comment (Hehe), you presented a great analysis of Multiply’s strengths: how it has managed to 1) change its game face, and 2) hold on to its roots. This is reflective of the site’s strategic adaptation for survival. Multiply has successfully repackaged itself from a “just-another” social networking site to a strong and relevant “social shopping site”. It has responded to an emerging business need and that is to accommodate a growing number of online sellers and buyers. Afterwards, it has concentrated its effort to support this function and maintain its new image. Had others (oh yes, Friendster) only realized these things and employed adaptive strategies, they would not have been included in the list of the species nearing extinction.

  4. Rhea Lorenzo says:

    One of the reasons why I haven’t left Multiply is the fact that it is not just a social network site. There’s online shopping and uploading photos really is easier. What, with the Multiply Autouploader. I must say that changing their target market and accommodating the needs of online shoppers and entrepreneurs are just some of the things that makes Multiply’s existence ongoing. 😀

  5. Mina Loyola says:

    Multiply, first and foremost, has this seller-friendly interface. The profile page with a welcome message (space for store policies), orderly arrangement of photo albums (for display of products), calendar (for announcement of new arrivals and shipping of products), and guestbook (feedback mechanism) — all these are elements of a good entrepreneur’s shop. It is good to note that, back in 2007, selling was prohibited in Multiply. They deleted a number of online shops because they violated the Multiply Terms and Conditions regarding the use of site for commercial purposes. In 2008, they become more lenient about the online shops and promised not to close them down as long as they do not violate the other provisions of T&C on spamming and privacy. It was just lately that they opened the Multiply Marketplace, but what took them so long?

    As a former online seller, I would know that Multiply’s intervention to keep the quality of Multiply online selling high, run after bogus sellers and joy reservers, and protect sellers from hackers was much wanted. That was in 2007. While I am a bit sad that they recognized that their interface is indeed for an online selling website just recently, I am still glad that Multiply is surviving all this Facebook mania by shifting its audience to the sellers, telling them, “Hey, you’re safe here, you can sell here for free, and you’ll definitely earn a lot,” in a way also inviting buyers to be present in the new Marketplace. It was a much-needed strategy, before they suffer the same fate of Friendster.

    The challenge now for Multiply is to craft a strategy to target specifically the buyers, because a marketplace is buyer-seller dynamics. It cannot stop with targeting the sellers, since we have to admit that Multiply’s popularity today is not as high as four years ago.

  6. commania says:

    “I have no idea if the bible had anything to do with the naming of the social networking site, Multiply.”

    Hahaha. Nice one, Eya! 😀

    Businesses do operate in a battlefield. There is war. There is competition. There is a victor and a loser. But there is also what we call call “survivor”. In order to be called as one, you have to stay alive during and after the battle. This is what has happened to Multiply. It practiced a greater competitive advantage over Friendster by getting out of its usual operations and taking the risk of employing a new image, which do not necessarily mean being new as a whole, but being new by having a mix of the old and some additionals (as being a “social shopping site”). Businesses should be able to use coping mechanisms to prevent bankruptcy and organizational failure. Good thing, Multiply has been wise enough to use the strategy of reconstructing their target market and organizational objectives and purposes. Though this might be a very critical decision and move to make so as there are no guarantee of its success at the onset of the plan, I admire Multiply for getting through the competition with Friendster and being able to stay alive. It has to fight its competitors and do everything to surpass them or else it will be left behind. Multiply knows it cannot go beyond Facebook’s success. People are getting crazy over Facebook. But as for my own words, “If you cannot beat the number one, at least manage to stay in the competition.” Its’all about saving face but when it comes to Friendster, I have no idea how it would be able to redeem itself.

  7. Nice blog post Eya. 🙂

    Multiply has indeed bounced back from being an almost-obsolete site to one which has its own unique use in the Web. Sometimes success could be a result of pure luck but most of the time, it’s the result of having a clear target. There was a time when Multiply banned online selling but it seems that they’ve already realized the opportunities that they could gain from this. It’s a good thing that they were able to pinpoint a feature that they can capitalize on and really worked on improving it. I wonder if the strategy will remain effective especially since online shops in Facebook are also starting to gain popularity.

  8. It’s a good thing that Multiply didn’t gear towards what Friendster did because it would be a complete waste to have put down this site. You mentioned that they might garner into a new market which are the artists and the photographers. I think you’re right. One of the features I love about multiply is that it can host high resolution images. Also, unlike Facebook, they do not decrease the quality of these uploaded images. For me, decreasing the resolution makes images less authentic. Image quality is very important for artists and photographers, and they consider this in choosing a site for their online portfolio.

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