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Why Twitter Won't Take Off in Vietnam

As the world’s largest social network, Facebook, continues its massive expansion in Vietnam, many have wondered why Twitter, which ranks second, is ignored. One of our favorite tech writers, Anh-Minh Do over at TechinAsia, recently tackled the conundrum.

Vietnam is one of Facebook’s fastest growing markets, adding around 1 million users per month where as the country’s Twitter users number so few, one could almost count them on their fingers and toes.

Do chalks this up to culture:

"If you’re Vietnamese, family members likely recommend to you their favorite tailors, shops, and restaurants. If you want to find a new spot, you’re going to ask your family first and your friends second. This is even more dramatic in terms of relationships and new friendships. When Vietnamese people go out drinking (and we’re talking about the majority of people here), they mainly prefer to go out with friends. This is most noticeable in business, where relationships are essential."

And language:

“…this kind of culture has made the Vietnamese language colorful. People ask you what your age is so that they can determine what pronoun to use to address you with. The word for “inside” (nội) is the same word used for family members on the father’s side. “Outside” (ngoại) is the word used for family members on the mother’s side. The language reflects an intricate network of relationships. Arguably, this relationship-based language is far more complex than any other language in the region,” Do continued.

He determines that these linguistic characteristics have shaped the way Vietnamese approach social media.

Twitter attracts people who share common interests and engange in public conversaion whereas with Facebook, one  interacts privately with people they have probably met in person.

Do concludes:

“If you look at how Vietnamese society works, it becomes clear that Twitter could never have made it in Vietnam. Twitter is a place where you chat and maybe even become friends or acquaintances with total strangers. But Vietnamese people, like in every society, need forms of social media that mirror their culture. Vietnamese people don’t want to chat with strangers.”

Good stuff all around but the last sentence is at odds with my Facebook friend’s request list which has become something of a digital purgatory, packed with Vietnamese ‘friends’ I have never met.

Follow Anh-Minh Do on Twitter: @caligarn ;)


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