10 years ago the first thing Vietnamese learn about communicating through the Internet is chatting. There were some services targeting Vietnam market before Yahoo! Messenger came to dominate all communication channels.
Yahoo! Messenger’s domination in Vietnam opened up the way for Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! 360. In recent years, the email market share is largely chipped by Gmail. Yahoo! Messenger, while the top IM client, faces competition from Skype. Hotmail, Live Messenger and Gtalk are not widely popular in the country.
A growing trend is, however, that people start to learn about social networking and Facebook. Many sign up for the Internet to, first thing first, communicating via social networks. The same is happening in other South East Asian countries.
The social network battle in Vietnam in 2011 boils down to the dual-horse race between the two leaders Zing Me and Facebook. While Twitter and Plurk gain traction in other countries in the region, micro-blogging in Vietnam has never taken off. Even technology-enthusiasts use Facebook for live reporting (which Twitter is logically most suitable for) and viralling current events.
Why? My attempt to answer the question:
- Vietnamese language comes with diacritics thus requires a lot more than 140 characters to express a full sentence
- Vietnamese users are more familiar with “Add Friend” relationship than “Follow” mechanism
- Most importantly, Twitter doesn’t satisfy the gamification demand crazed by Vietnamese users. Vietnamese teenagers go on Zing Me mostly to play webgames. Many also go on Facebook sheerly for games rather than for connecting. Foursquare has received lots of attention probably thanks to the rewards and Mayor competition.
The next question pops into my mind: if gamification is so important, why hasn’t Plurk known in Vietnam while it is very popular in Taiwan and the Philippines? Again, my attempt
- Plurk hasn’t been covered by local media which is crucial in the growth of services. Facebook received local media coverage.
- Many influencers don’t know what Plurk is. As for me, I deactivated my Plurk account after collecting many medals.
Tumblr is growing rapidly in Vietnam.
Ngoc Hieu has an explanation on the adaption Twitter: Vietnamese users like colors and emotions, neither of which Twitter offers.