What started as a simple idea over two years ago, has grown into a law that very well may be passed through the new Conservative leadership of Britain’s, Theresa May. The new Prime Minister of the UK has been insistent on passing “safeguards” that would allow children, once they turn 18 to delete any derogatory or incriminating former social media posts, photos, and even comments.
Vietnam is currently one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies. But that has not always been the case. When it unified in 1975, it struggled to find its feet. But when elements of market forces and enterprise were introduced and the stock exchange was opened, the country began to find its feet. Since then, foreign investment has grown. The United States is now one of Vietnam’s main trading partners.
More recently, the popularity of the Internet has brought about many changes. Vietnam’s Internet penetration is one of the highest in Southeast Asia at 44% of the country’s 90 million population. Much of the growth is attributed to smartphones, which are used by more than a third of the population. With very affordable mobile data rates at just $3 a gigabyte, Vietnam has now joined the Internet bandwagon. The impact is huge. Active social media accounts rose 41% this year. Vietnam’s active Facebook users are now at 30 million, an increase of 8.5 million since 2012. It is the most popular site being used by 21% of the population according to a survey conducted by We Are Social. Google+ has 13% and Twitter 8%.
There had been initial attempts to limit Internet freedom by the government. A few years ago, Vietnam’s government launched its own social media site to compete with Facebook. Dubbed Go.vn, it required users to use their real names and register with their government-issued numbers. Not many “friended” the government. Vietnam also used to block Facebook but Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has decided to hit the “like” button saying that it can help small businesses to find new customers. Since then, several cabinet members have created their own pages and state-run broadcasters have begun uploading videos on Youtube. Despite a growing list of regulations, the government’s more open attitude towards the Internet has been quite effective. Online sales by business to consumers in Vietnam totaled an estimated $2.2 billion in 2013. They are estimated to reach $4 billion in 2015.
E-commerce and online trade have especially benefitted from the government’s efforts to promote Internet usage. Shopping websites such as Lazada and Sendo are mushrooming. Thegioididong, a leading IT retailer posted sales of $47.6 million in the first half of 2014. That was a growth of 300 percent. A recent survey by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s E-commerce and Information Technology Department found that 58 percent of the Internet population shop online and spend an average of $145.
With the Internet boom and a growing middle class, there are a lot of business opportunities especially for foreign companies. Big global players such as Alibaba and Amazon have begun to build their presence in the country. Internet companies that want to expand to Asia should definitely not overlook Vietnam.
Creating a substantial social media presence is not simply about making a Facebook page and hoping customers will drop by. In business, successful communities are developed through the use of skillful marketing research, planning, and strategy making. Social media–based marketing succeeds best when the firm offers products and services relevant to the customer, incorporating substantial value, and provided by an organization deemed trustworthy and reliable. Below are important strategies firms should follow to maximize the effectiveness of social media in international marketing.
Monitor Your Firm’s Online Reputation
Trust plays a critical role in the success of social media marketing. In a world of 24-hour news cycles via practically unlimited news and information outlets, firms can fall victim to gossip and the rants of disgruntled consumers, activists, and others. Thus, marketers need to invest efforts every day scanning the Internet to monitor news about the firm and its brands.
Communicate Your Expertise
Sophisticated companies publicize their expertise in various ways online, such as via websites, podcasts, blogs, and social media, all emphasizing buyers’ needs. Fundamentally, more than caring about products themselves, consumers seek solutions to their specific problems.
Understand Your Markets
Marketers need to devise marketing communications only after acquiring substantive knowledge of the characteristics of intended buyers. By knowing who is using which social sites, marketers can promote their products to their targeted audience at the appropriate sites. For example, the social network site aSmallWorld targets affluent members and others who are part of the international social jet set. Care2 is a social network site that appeals to environmentalists and other interest in green living from around the world.
Manage Information about Your Company and Brands
Many firms today use Facebook and other sites to disseminate continuous news releases that provide value to consumers. Buyers respond favorably to information that appeals to their needs and concerns about products and brands they enjoy. News releases online link to the corporate website, where explanations are offered regarding emergent trends and events that interest buyers. The most successful social media sites incorporate numerous useful links to other sites and provide easy means for customers to contact company representatives. For example, Chinese computer giant Lenovo launched a site called “Voices of the Olympic Games” to collect posts from the athletes competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The site allowed Lenovo to link its brand to exciting Olympics events as they developed.
As the Internet gains momentum worldwide, firms are using social media to undertake international marketing campaigns. Because social media are cost-effective, even small firms can market offerings to market niches around the world.
Leveraging social networks can be especially effective in emerging markets and developing economies, where consumers may be less receptive to traditional Western forms of marketing communications, such as TV and print advertising.
Some cultures appear to lend themselves especially well to social media marketing approaches. For example, collectivist cultures characterized by a high need for social affiliation and respect for peers are likely to value the brand-oriented interaction available through social media. China is one of the top users of e-mail and social media worldwide, and the Chinese tend to exhibit a strong preference for online media that enhance social relationships. The market for credit cards in Russia is still emerging, and finding information on the credit worthiness of cardholders is challenging. Banks leverage social sites, such as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, to identify potential users with strong potential credit ratings.
Marketing communications using social media represent the new frontier in international marketing. Social networks are considered increasingly critical to any interactive marketing communications program. Marketers aim for brand engagement; that is, they want customers to develop a personal relationship with the brand. Social media represent perhaps the best means for achieving this closeness.