Mobile key to social media growth in Vietnam

Vietnam Business News recently published an interesting interview with Thomas Crampton on its website looking at social media and social media marketing in Vietnam.

The country is one of the ‘second wave’ of internet/tech markets, somewhat behind larger more influential neighbours like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore but growing rapidly with mobile internet the primary source for increase internet access.

Along those lines the below excerpts from the interview caught my eye:

How have social media networks developed in Viet Nam in recent years, and in comparison to other Asian countries?

Viet Nam is at the fascinating intersection of a developing nation, a young population and a Government that has supported the development of the internet. How this plays out remains to be seen, but as Indonesia has shown, populations can come online at breakneck speed with incredible results. In the last year, Indonesia overtook the UK as the world’s second leading nation on facebook, much of the usage coming through mobile devices.

How do you expect social media to develop in Viet Nam in the near future?

Social media has already taken off in Viet Nam and the growth is set to continue in coming years. Increasingly, more and more people are accessing the internet from home, but one of the main drivers of internet usage seems to be 3G. Mobile internet in Viet Nam saw a growth of more than 800 per cent last year, reaching a total of 110 million mobile subscribers in early 2010. As for the future, keep in mind that over half of Viet Nam’s population is under 30 years old, representing a generation that grew up and will continue to live on the internet.

There is litle doubt the next year or so will likely see great change to the internet/social media landscape in Vietnam – will it leave larger, more populated but less tech-savvy neighbours like Thailand in its wake?

UPDATE: one additional, and very important factor, for the country’s mobile growth is ongoing censorship issues with fixed line internet access in Vietnam.

As recently blogged here Vietnam is not well known for its online censorship, however Facebook has been banned since late 2009 while it has a history of jailing bloggers.

It is clear then that using a mobile phone represents a ‘freer’ internet that the limited fixed line access within Vietnam.