This summer has proven to be a busy time for Vietnam’s social media users and marketers with the launch of two new social media apps.
On July 23, Gapo was launched, a mobile app that resembles Facebook. Gapo lets its registered users create personal profiles and share posts on a news feed that is similar to Facebook. The app also has functions that allow users to blog and livestream. According to the developer, Gapo has been designed to allow users to pay for purchases online, use public services and protect their personal information.
The Gapo app has been developed by Gapo Technology JSC, which received $21.5 million USD in investment funds from venture capital G-Group Technology & Finance Group. G-Group was founded in 2016. The company has 8 member companies and 1,000 employees, who are focused on finance and technology.
A spokesman for Gapo says that the company was encouraged to develop its social media app after the Vietnamese government encouraged domestic technology companies to create “Made in Vietnam” alternatives to U.S. technology giants Facebook and Google.
Ha Trung Kien, CEO of G-Group said that “Vietnamese users and enterprises are relying too much on Facebook as there are not so many social networks for them to choose from.” It’s Apple app store ranking is 3.1.
One month before Gapo was launched, another social media application, Hahalolo was launched. Hahalolo says that it is Vietnam's first social network for tourism, . The idea for Hahalolo was born in 2014, and a beta version of the Hahalolo app was launched in October 2018.
Hahalolo has similar functionality to Facebook and allows registered users to friend people, post and share things on their newsfeed, and comment on posts.
Beyond the regular social media functions, Hahalolo also integrates online travel services and e-commerce channels, allowing users to book tours, make hotel reservations and shop online. Currently the app has a listing of tour operators and hotels from Japan, South Korea, 10 Southeast Asian countries and 10 European countries. It’s Apple app store ranking is 4.2.
One other social network apps to note is BizTime, a social media networks are aimed at young millennials. BizTime says that it uses Big Data technology to help keep you safe from spam and that the app will allow you to stay up-to-date with family, business and friends. It has the normal social media platform features related to pages, newsfeeds, friends, etc. It’s Apple app store ranking is 1.6.
For companies that want to reach Vietnam consumers, the addition of the new “Made in Vietnam” social media networks offers opportunities, if they are willing to be reasonable in their performance expectations.
Clearly the Vietnamese social networks will not have the scale of Facebook, vis-à-vis Vietnamese consumers, for many years, if ever. And even if each app gained 5 million users, their combined reach would still be smaller than the 42 million Vietnamese who use Facebook on a daily basis. However, smaller groups of consumers who are attached to a particular app may exhibit loyalty factors that make them an attractive market so the apps are betting that as they gain traction that advertisers and brands will support them. Time will tell.