Digital literacy has exploded among the Vietnamese populace in the last decade, and social media has naturally followed. With 57 percent of the country now active on social media, there is unprecedented opportunity for brands entering Vietnam to reach their target audience with a high degree of success – if they choose the right platform for the job. Here we’ll take a look at which social platforms currently dominate the landscape, why they’re popular, and how brands can make the best use of them.
Viber: the ambitious up-and-comer
While it is one of the most-used messaging apps worldwide, Japan-based Viber entered Vietnam as an underdog but has nonetheless built a strong presence. This is in part by appealing to multiple generations, with 55% of people over 35 opting for Viber as their instant messenger of choice. Some of Viber’s appeal lies in its high-quality and often pioneering implementation of features that have become widely beloved across Southeast Asia, such as its array of colourful and creative stickers and the Communities feature, which allows fans and hobbyists to create or join groups of people who share their interests. But its biggest point of distinction is its unmatched user privacy. Unlike other instant messaging apps, Viber uses end-to-end encryption by default on messages and does not store them on a central server, making it virtually impossible for outsiders – including Viber itself – to view them. In a time of social media and instant messaging giants facing increased scrutiny for how they store and share user data, Viber’s user-first security focus is remarkable. As a marketing platform, Viber provides brands with an advertising opportunity that benefits from user trust that they’re not being spied on, while remaining a prime pipeline to Vietnamese of multiple generations. And advertisers need not worry – there’s still plenty of user data available from voluntary actions like public posts and searches.
Facebook: the dominant all-in-one
Vietnam is ranked seventh in the world for unique Facebook users (but 15th in population), testifying to the network’s massive presence. 55 of the 57 million social media users in the country are active on the platform, with their numbers jumping 20 percent in 2017 alone. While young people in much of the West have migrated away from Facebook in recent years, that’s not the case in Vietnam millennials represent the largest group and often spend six hours a day online using social media, reading news, and watching video content,. Facebook’s early entry and resulting ubiquity in Vietnam has made it the core platform for influencers to build a following, featuring high engagement rates due to its more casual nature and interaction-friendly format. As a result, Facebook is home to a range of influencers who can be useful to businesses across various industries. Due to its ubiquity and versatility, Vietnamese of all ages use Facebook for a bit of everything, but one of its most Vietnam-specific applications is as a primary online shopping outlet, through which shoppers develop ongoing relationships with merchants and generally pay cash on delivery. For those companies that trade in products with niche appeal, selling through these merchants can be a valuable way to test the local waters.
Zalo: the home-grown success
Those outside of Vietnam are unlikely to be familiar with this Vietnamese platform, but a large percent of Vietnamese swear by it for its speed (crucial for the country’s unstable network) and locally-tailored feature set, such as the ability to make user profiles which can be found by others nearby using location-based scanning, as well as contactless payment and ecommerce integrated with local merchants. For those who want to take the extra step to adapt to the local environment, Zalo may be a useful tool. Q&Me Vietnam conducted market research in which 460 people between the age of 18-39 responded to surveys about their social media preferences, and 89 percent used Zalo for various purposes including work, contacting family or loved ones, and keeping in touch with their networks of friends. With the platform enjoying 60 million regular users, Zalo has become a major outlet for advertisers in Vietnam, particularly those targeting Gen Z, who make up 80% of its userbase.
Disclaimer: Rakuten Viber is a client of EloQ Communications.
Our statistics on social media usage are sourced primarily from Hootsuite’s presentation “Vietnam Digital Landscape 2018”.