Social, Digital and Mobile in Vietnam

Simon Kemp

Following the launch of our regional Social, Digital and Mobile in Asia report last week, today we’re delighted to launch our series of reports into individual countries.

The first of these reports covers one of Asia’s most exciting markets: Vietnam.

With a population in excess of 90 million and an economy that grew by 5.4% in the 3rd quarter of this year alone, Vietnam represents a huge opportunity for brands all over the world.

The country’s social, digital and mobile landscape is evolving at an astonishing rate too, with internet users in the country increasing by 5% since our last report on the country at the end of 2011.

Key figures in this new report include:

As the figures above suggest, feature phones still dominate Vietnam’s mobile landscape, but smartphone use is definitely on the rise.

We also noted a reduction in the number of mobile subscriptions since our last report, but given that subscription penetration still sits at around 139%, this likely reflects a consolidation towards a single active subscription per user rather than a drop in mobile use.

However, the most dramatic change in the country’s digital landscape this year has been the shift in power in social media. Just 12 months ago, there were only 2.9 million Facebook users in Vietnam; today, there are more than 8.5 million – a growth of almost 200%.

Startlingly, data from Facebook itself suggests that the network’s user base in the country has grown by 500,000 in the past 2 weeks alone. This data is backed up by Facebook metrics experts SocialBakers, who present the following impressive chart:

Although sudden increases like this are more likely to reflect a correction in Facebook’s data than an actual single-day change, these new numbers are still significant.

We’ve also heard anecdotal reports that some of Vietnam’s restrictions on Facebook have been lifted recently, so Facebook’s recent growth may genuinely have been quite dramatic, as local netizens realise they have easier access to the world’s most popular network.

It’s not just the speed of this growth that’s important though.

Up until last week (and indeed as we reported in our regional report just a few days ago), the leader in the country’s social media scene was local network Zing, which claims around 8.2 million users.

Although these latest official user numbers for Zing are a few months old and actual users may have increased since, it appears that Facebook has taken the number 1 spot in Vietnam, meaning it may be another step closer to its quest for world domination, as this revised version of our Social Network Map of Asia shows:

Intriguingly though, there is evidence to suggest that interest in Zing has also picked up again in the past few days, as the Google Trends chart below highlights. Note the sharp uptick towards the right-hand side, which shows that Zing is currently experiencing its greatest volume of search traffic for the past 12 months:

We’re still waiting to hear back from a representative at Zing for more up-to-date user numbers, but either way it seems that Vietnam’s social scene is certainly hotting up.

And given that almost 4 in 5 social media users in Vietnam have ‘Liked’ or follow a brand in social media, we’ll be paying close attention to where things progress in the coming weeks and months.