Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Social Networking and Korean Social Networking: The Rise of Twitter and Facebook

In retrospect it is clear that "social networking" via the internet arrived in Korea, in the form of Cyworld, almost half a decade before Facebook appeared in the United States.  However, as pointed out in an excellent  article in The Korea Times, Cyworld's "mini homepages" were tailored for users seeking to maintain a closed and controlled network of immediate friends.   I assume part of Cyworld's great appeal here in Korea is that it naturally extended the Korean penchant to form close networks among classmates,  family or friends from the same hometown or business.
It is most interesting that Facebook and Twitter, along with Google to some extent, only began to seriously penetrate South Korea's market with the arrival of Apple's iPhone about a year ago.  According to local market research, the number of visitors to Facebook and Twitter reached 7.38 million and 8.65 million respectively, during the month of September.  This represented a 650 percent year-on-year increase for Facebook and a 580 percent jump for Twitter.  Cyworld saw its visitors drop nearly 12 percent over the same period.
In response to these developments, local services such as Cyworld and Naver are introducing their own alternatives.  In the case of Cyworld, one such service is C-Log, a Facebook resembling service.  Time will tell about the success of these services, but as prior posts on this blog have argued, (for example here, here, or here.  Better yet, search this blog for "language") language and culture are extremely important factors in shaping Korea's information society and this reality is unlikely to change anytime soon.

1 comment:

  1. A few quick comments:

    1) Facebook can also be used in Korean, which of course helps to break the language barrier.

    2) Korean users may perceive more freedom when signing up for Facebook or Twitter (this is, they may for instance perceive less government control).

    3) Facebook helps Korean users to keep in touch with non-Korean contacts (which may have significant appeal to the younger generation).

    4) Facebook may be used by Korean users for the purpose of learning English and for the purpose of learning about other cultures.