Digital 2012: Vietnam

With a population in excess of 90 million and an economy that grew by 5.4% in the 3rd quarter of 2012 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 the 2012 report include:

  • Almost 31 million internet users, representing penetration of 34%;

  • More than 8.5 million social media users, but penetration of just 9% shows plenty of potential for more rapid growth;

  • A massive 129 million mobile subscriptions, representing penetration of 139%;

  • 19 million mobile internet users, equating to penetration of around 21%.

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 SocialBakers and Facebook itself suggests that the network's user base in the country has grown by 500,000 in just the past 2 weeks. Sudden increases like this are more likely to reflect a correction in Facebook's data than an actual single-day change, but 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 well have been as dramatic as these numbers suggest, as local netizens realise they have easier access to the world's most popular social network.

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

Up until just a few weeks ago (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.

These latest ‘official’ user numbers from Zing are a few months old, so actual user numbers may have increased in the meantime, but it appears that Facebook has taken the top social 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:

Social Media Users by Asian Country October 2012 DataReportal

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:

Google Trends Interest in Zing October 2012 DataReportal.png

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 followed a brand on social media, we'll be paying close attention to where things progress in the coming weeks and months.

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete Vietnam 2012 report (you may need to sign in to SlideShare first).

This article first appeared on the We Are Social Blog.