The Importance Of Social Media In Vietnam

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In Vietnam, social media has become one of the most popular communication platforms. It is noteworthy that the social media penetration rate in the country is more than 43 percent, Facebook penetration is at 22 percent, and there are more than 40 million active social media users (Kemp, 2015; 2016). These figures indicate the growing importance of social media for the Vietnamese people. As a result, a crisis that starts on social media is not an unusual occurrence. In the past five years, Vietnam has seen a number of company or brand crises that started on social media. From a single post online, a story could be shared virally, attract attention from customers, mainstream media and even the government to become a full crisis.
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Some studies concluded social media is not credible (e.g. Richter, 2014), while some studies expressed that it is as credible as traditional media (e.g. Austin, Liu & Jin, 2012; Procopio & Procopio, 2007). In Vietnam, although the Media Department of the Ministry of Information and Communications reported that Vietnamese people have increasingly trusted social media and chosen it over traditional media (Bao Dien Tu DCSVN, 2012), no studies were found to support this observation.

Social Media is Widely Used, Pushing It Toward Adoption in Crisis Communication
Many communication studies concluded that social media is an ideal channel for stakeholders to communicate with organizations during crisis (e.g. Ruehl & Ingenhoff, 2015) and social media can provide stakeholders with not only up-to-date crisis information but also socialization and emotional support (e.g. Austin et al., 2012; Procopio & Procopio, 2007). Statistically, Vietnam is one of the fastest digital-growth countries with 40 million social media users (Kemp,
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While a number of social media characteristics are typically considered before its adoption in communication activities, three characteristics are mentioned more frequently in communication literature. In most crisis communication studies, speed, ease of reach and a personalized conversation are recognized advantages of social media. These particular advantages were supported by Schultz, Utz and Glocka (2012) in their review of the existing literature on this topic. Compared to traditional media, which shares the same communication message, social media has an apparent edge that it allows more personal, direct and swifter responses (Schultz et al., 2012). With these advantages, social media makes the involved company appear more caring, concerned and committed, thus leading to a positive overall impression of the company during and after a crisis (Sweetser & Metzgar, 2007; Kerkhof, Beugels, Utz & Beukeboom,
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