Internet Penetration, Social Media & Student Recruitment

40 years ago this week in the waning months of the American War, as it’s known in Vietnam, US bombs were raining down on Hanoi in what came to be known as “The Christmas Bombings.”  This morning, sitting in my office in downtown Hanoi, I listened to children singing Christmas songs in a nearby kindergarten and thought about just how far Vietnam has come in four decades – from the death and destruction of the recent past to the peace and growing prosperity of the present.  This prosperity and openness to the world include Internet access with all of its attendant implications. 

According to WeAreSocial, a Singapore-based digital PR organization, there are 30.8 million Internet users in Vietnam, a country with a population of 91.5 million.  To put this in perspective, there were only 100,000 Internet users during my first visit to Vietnam in 1996 in a population of about 75 million.  What’s even more extraordinary is that Vietnam’s per capita income was just $1,410 last year, making it a borderline middle-income country.  (Source: World Bank)


Below are some more relevant facts:  

  • Internet penetration is around 34 percent, higher than the global average of 33 percent.
  • The number of internet users in Vietnam increased 5 percent in 2012.
  • 95 percent of Vietnamese people aged 15-24 have access to the internet.
  • 73 percent of Vietnam’s Internet users are under the age of 35.
  • 66 percent of Vietnamese netizens access the web every day.
  • Social media penetration of nine percent shows there’s massive room for growth
  • 127.3 million mobile subscribers in total, which is above the population figure of 91.5 million
  • 19 million mobile internet users, which works out at penetration of around 21 percent
  • 35 percent of those user their phones to access social media
  • 28 percent of Vietnamese netizens now have a Facebook account

Ranked 22nd in the world, Vietnam is one of the fastest growing Facebook markets.  There are currently a total of 10, 425, 260 users, 9, 379,800 (90%) of whom are between the ages of 16 and 34.  (The median age in Vietnam is 28.2.)  In recent months I’ve seen Facebook move steadily up the ranks of the top 10 websites in Vietnam.  It’s now 2nd after (you guessed it)

Implications for Student Recruitment

With so many young Vietnamese online the implications for student recruitment are obvious.  According to a recent report produced by World Education Services (WES), “U.S. institutions of higher education should refocus part of their recruitment efforts on the following four emerging markets (listed in order of importance): Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Turkey.” 

WES Social Media Info

The report notes that “While social media presence is the first step, it does not ensure success in recruiting students. Higher education institutions need to also monitor and creatively interact with their relevant target audience by involving current and former international students.”  Another way to maximize the use of social media recruitment efforts is to work with a reliable and trusted in-country partner. 

To read more and download the report, follow this link to a WES article entitled Using Social Media to Recruit in Emerging Markets


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