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Use of social network for political communication in Vietnam

(PTOJ) - The emergence of social networking sites has fundamentally changed the flow of information, from a communication model of one source - many recipients to a network model of many sources - many recipients. This article assesses an overview of political communication on social networks in Vietnam by analyzing the activities of a number of socio-political organizations and press agencies on social network platforms Facebook, Zalo, YouTube and Tiktok. This will be followed by some recommendations about how to use social networks for political communication in Vietnam.

In fact, in Vietnam in recent years, the use of social networks as an important political communication channel has become popular among socio-political organizations and press agencies - Photo: IT

1. Opportunities for political communication via social networks in Vietnam

According to the Vietnam Digital Development Overview 2021 Report published by We are social and Kepios in early 2022: There are 76.95 million social network users in Vietnam (accounting for 97.8% of the population aged 13 and over). The number of social network users also tends to increase rapidly (in 2022, it will increase by 6.9% compared to 2021). These are desirable numbers for any type of media, showing the great potential of social networks in political communication in Vietnam.

On average, Vietnamese people use social networks for 2 hours 28 minutes per day. This number is also much higher than the average for other countries in the world, increasing the opportunity for political communicators to reach the public. The public’s high frequency of use of social networks is also increasing because they can access it anytime, anywhere thanks to the ubiquitous wifi technology and the widespread use of modern technological devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and so on.

In addition, the number of Vietnamese social network users range mainly between the ages of 18 and 34. This can be considered the “golden age” of the general population and the age that political media should be aiming to reach. The public at this age is the main labor force in society, the breadwinners of families, and the target audience of most policies. This young public is also the object that cultural and ideological activities need to influence. Through social networks, political communicators can reach this audience easily, effectively, and at low cost.

Also, according to the study by We are Social: when accessing social networks, in addition to staying connected with relatives and friends, users are most interested in updates about the news (57.1%). Many studies also show that social networks play a large role in traffic to electronic newspapers. Therefore, today, many newsrooms are interested in reaching their public through social networks, instead of focusing on and investing in the homepage interface, as was done before. This habit of the Vietnamese public is also the reason why organizations, businesses, individuals, artists, etc., all choose social networks as their main communication channel. Social networks account for the largest proportion of the advertising market share in Vietnam.

Thus, with the advantages of reaching a large group of young audiences, social networks have proven to be an effective tool for communicating corporate images and are fully capable of becoming an effective tool for policy communication by the Government.

2. The impact of social networks on political communication activities in Vietnam today

On the positive aspect, social networks are a channel to help spread and widely disseminate political information, making them an important too to contribute to disseminating and propagating the Party’s guidelines, as well as the policies and laws of the State; thereby strengthening the public’s confidence in the Party’s leadership.

If traditional media outlets are often limited by their ability to spread information, social networks almost break this boundary. Political information posted on social media can instantly reach millions of people around the world, and the public continues the spreading of information through sharing. Just like that, political information is spread unlimitedly.

Even with today’s press, many people have the habit of reading newspapers through social networks, by receiving information posted on fan pages of different press agencies, or clicking on links shared on social networks, instead of going to the homepage of newspapers. This shift in the method of receiving information poses a problem for communicators. It seems that using social networks to expand public access is not only an option anymore but rather it has become an primary path.

In fact, in Vietnam in recent years, the use of social networks as an important political communication channel has become popular among socio-political organizations and press agencies. Most public agencies from central to local levels have fan pages. Leaders and individual members of organizations also use social networks as a channel for sharing information. However, at the local level, these fan pages mainly share links from newspapers, or publish news about the organization’s activities, without in-depth propaganda information, and have not invested in creating specific content suitable for the social networking platform. Therefore the number of interactions and followers are also quite modest compared to their potential. Therefore, the opportunity for social networks to be a tool in political communication in Vietnam is much greater than what is happening in reality.

Currently, most press agencies use social networks as a channel to distribute information, to expand on said information and to interact with the public. Many news posts on social networks receive a high number of interactions. In particular, many press agencies have also been quick to catch up with this trend and have developed their presence on the different emerging social network platforms.

Social networks are also a place for the public to exchange ideas, to discuss and express opinions about information. When political information is discussed on a large scale, it is easier to create community consensus on policies.

Social networks are also an effective channel for interacting with the public, helping to receive feedback to both capture and direct public opinion.

In the past, before the explosion of social networking sites, it was difficult for media agencies to capture public opinion. Today, thanks to social networks, anyone can become a source of information, so it is easy to share and exchange views and personal opinions with a large number of people. These interactions help create a closeness between the public and the media, providing relatively complete data on the characteristics of needs, qualifications and preferences of each sector of the public, so that the media can develop a strategic plan on how to proceed with the appropriate information. At the same time, online interactions also help the media capture public opinion quickly and accurately in order to understand public orientation in a timely manner, especially during important political events.

Through expressing their views openly and freely within the framework of the law, the public on social networks can easily exercise their right to criticize. Especially, when a draft law is released for public opinion, social networks help to collect opinions quickly and widely. Social networks also allow the dissemination of public opinion questionnaires, which is a very beneficial tool for the media. This type of questionnaire is very easy to implement yet highly effective because the respondents only need one click to express their opinion on the issue being raised. Through the results of the questionnaire, the media can draw conclusions for the issues they are wondering about, and at the same time capture the trend of the public’s thoughts towards the occurrence in society. These results can also serve as a guide to policy adjustments.

In addition, in an environment with lots of inaccurate and toxic information, political communicators can use social networks as an effective channel to refute false views, contributing to protecting the Party ideological platform. By promptly sharing official information, views, and policies of the Party, political communicators can prevent fake news and disinformation from spreading and gain public support.

In addition, social networks are also a means of encouragement and gathering the masses to respond to major national events, especially for the younger public.

Thanks to social networks, many communication campaigns have spread and have been implemented successfully. VTV’s “I go to vote” campaign in 2021 is considered an effort to “rejuvenate” political activities and to reach Gen Z (young people) more effectively. The campaign focuses on young voters from 18 to 34 years old and focuses on Gen Z, helping them realize the importance of voting as an act of a mature citizen and responsiblity for the Fatherland, thereby convincing them to take a very natural and proud action: I go to vote.

The campaign achieved 43 million views and reaches on the social media platforms of VTV Digital and VTV.

However, social media is also has a negative impact on political communication.

Firstly, social networks are being used by hostile forces as the main tool for propaganda against and to distort Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh thought, seek to incite the masses, especially about hot political issues and events.

Secondly, with such a large population on these platforms, many virtual and anonymous accounts are used, causing great difficulties for management. The fact that anyone can become an information provider on social networks and information can be spread through increasingly sophisticated means, allows for the popularization of fake news and misinformation leading to confusion between fake news and official news sources.

Moreover, the public is easily manipulated by the “crowd” mentality. A few influential people with false ideas can lead public opinion, creating the effect of “boycott”, “criticizing” or opposition to policies even though they do not clearly understand what is correct and what is false.

Thirdly, social networks pose problems for information security, especially with information containing state secrets. Social network accounts of political organizations, Party agencies, press agencies, etc., can be hacked leading to information and data being stolen. In addition, the media may not be fully aware of the importance of information security and the danger of revealing personal and organizational information, they might post internal activities or information on social networks, unknowingly aiding elements that oppose and distort, seeking to cause socio-political and national security instability. In 2021, the Ministry of Public Security recorded 8 million cyber attack warnings. Authorities discovered 30 cases in which state secrets were revealed, consisting of 220 documents(1).

The opportunity is great, but the challenge is also not small. Therefore, agencies, organizations, unions and leaders need to be equipped with the skills to use social networking tools to achieve high efficiency in political communication.

3. Some suggestions for political communication on social networks

Firstly, one must choose the right social media channels

In fact, on the internet today there are many different social networks and users can choose any social network that suits their needs, interests, or purposes. However, from the perspective of ensuring smooth and effective political communication, it is necessary to choose popular, easy-to-use and highly secure social networking platforms.

According to a report by We are Social, as of February 2022, in Vietnam, the most popular social networks are Facebook, Zalo, Messenger, TikTok and Instagram. In which, 93.8% of people aged 16 to 64 who are using the internet in Vietnam use Facebook, with other popular social networking platforms such as Zalo or Messenger, the corresponding rate is 91.3 % and 82.2% respectively.

However, if Youtube holds the number 1 position in the ranking in 2021 in regard to video sharing platforms, in 2022, TikTok - a short video platform is emerging as an alternative. Political communicators need to grasp these trends to reach a wider audience.

With the advantages of popularity and ease of use, Facebook and Zalo are the social networking platforms chosen by many agencies as the main communication tool and connection channels for their units. However, each social network has different advantages and methods of operation. Some social networks are more popular, but lack the advantage of speed of sharing information. Meanwhile, there are other social networks which ensure ease of use, but are not valuable in terms of information security. Therefore, it is necessary to to choose a social networking platform for their connection activities appropriately based on the conditions, circumstances, needs and purposes of each unit and agency.

Secondly, enhance information security

It is necessary to promote the application of scientific and technological achievements to improve the security of network transmissions, the security of portals and websites; to strengthen solutions to ensure network information security and safety for agencies and units, to create “firewalls” to effectively prevent and combat hackers from attacking, stealing internal information and state secrets on computer networks.

In addition, it is necessary to train and develop a code of conduct for officials and employees of agencies engaged in political communication activities. The Law on Protection of State Secrets 2018 not only stipulates issues related to political security, national security, cipher, defense, military and foreign affairs strategies, etc., but also stipulates content that are not allowed to be leaked or distributed, such as: information on the process of preparation and implementation, organization and staff performance; exam questions and answers for leadership selection, management and recruitment, promotion of civil servants and public employees; exam questions, answers and information related to the organization of the national exam(2) and so on.

Thirdly, build a team of professional staff, in charge of producing content exclusively for social networks

The skills for using social networks as a political communication channel and interacting with the public is a relatively new pursuit for many agencies. The mode of operation on social networks is very different from traditional methods of communication and connection. Therefore, in order to ensure the effective use of social networks, it is necessary to build and train a team of professional personnel who are good at using social networks as an official communication channel. The human resources team will assist in selecting, building, and maintaining social media platforms that are relevant to their organization and public.

Along with a professional team, it is necessary to strengthen the content for social networks, instead of just re-posting news on the website or sharing links from the press. Currently, the press agencies themselves are also shifting from the trend of “online first” (prioritizing online content first) to “mobile first” (prioritizing content for mobile) and “social first” (prioritizing content for social networks first) because social networks have proven effective in reaching the public compared to other forms of communication. Therefore, investing in its own content, in a format that is suitable for the public on social networks is a necessary task.

For that content to be effective, it needs to have a form of expression that matches the tastes of the social media public. Most of the network netizens will prefer short news stories, with pictures, containing emotions, while not having much interested in abstract reasoning about problems. Therefore, political communication on social networks should be focused on current events, and simple stories of real people. At the same time, it is important to enhance visual communication such as images, graphics, videos, video streaming, etc., especially, live streaming which is very popular with the online public in Vietnam.

Fourthly, strengthen communication through celebrities and influencers (KOLs), focusing on official spokespeople, Party members and individuals in the agency

In recent years, social networks in Vietnam have seen the appearance of KOLs - Key Opinion Leaders - who are understood as influencers on the online community; they hold the “power” of the media and have become a “force” that can dominate and direct public opinion in cyberspace, etc., thereby creating a significant impacts on society. With numbers of followers ranging from a few dozen to several hundred thousand, Vietnamese KOLs, if active, will have a great impact on the public.

While most socio-political organizations and press agencies already have fan pages and conduct political communication on that page, but rarely use KOLs for this work. Even, over the years, there are many KOLs who have taken advantage of social networks to post false information, attract network accounts of bad actors, propagate and incite to negatively affect security and order. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to manage the team of KOLs, strictly handle violations and false information; at the same time make use of them to contribute to the spread of official information.

It is necessary to identify each cadre and Party member as a political communication tools on social networks. Currently, there is still a situation in which some officials of state agencies, or some journalists, in the name of fighting corruption, negativity and wastefulness, post on social networks unverified information, ideas and personal opinions contradicting and going against the views in the official press, harming national interests. Therefore, each agency needs to develop a code of conduct on social networks in accordance with the nature of its information. They should guide officials and Party members to strictly follow the rules, make appropriate statements, and promote their active participation in political communication.

Fifthly, “personalize” information, enhance interaction with the public

“Personalization” can be understood as a form of interaction between users and the system, using features of technology to adjust content, distribution and arrangement of information to suit each person’s preferences. The goal of personalization is to interact with the public as an individual. Thus, the message is consistent, but the content and images sent to the public can be different and personalized.

Political information needs to be spread widely, creating a common awareness for the entire population. But certainly, the same way of conveying information cannot satisfy all audiences of different ages, professions and tastes. If the communicator chooses to serve a young audience, he may miss the opportunity to reach other audiences. Therefore, applying artificial intelligence to “personalize” information, sending each person a version of information that suits their needs and tastes, etc., helps to increase the chances of the message being accessed and transmitted more effectively.

Thus, the use of social networks in political communication is a pursuit that should be promoted because it brings many practical benefits to both the government and the people. However, in order to ensure effective use of social networks, it is necessary to choose the right channel, strengthen information security, build a team of professional human resources, have specific rules as well as use KOLs in political communication and capture the trend of personalization of information.


Received: June 25, 2022; Revised: June 30, 2022; Approved for publication: July 15, 2022.



(1) https://thanhuytphcm.vn/.

(2) https://www.qdnd.vn/.


1. Nguyen Thi Anh, Pham Thi Mai: The impact of social networks on political theory information in Vietnam today, Thematic information No. 3-2021, Academy of Journalism and Communication.

2. Nguyen Thi Truong Giang (editor): Journalism - multimedia communication, National University Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018.

3. Do Chi Nghia, Dinh Thi Thu Hang: Press and social networks, Political Theory Publishing House, Hanoi, 2014.

4. Nguyen Van Quang, Nguyen Hai Thanh: The impact of social networks on ideological work in our country today, Thematic Information No.3-2021, Academy of Journalism and Communication.

5. Nguyen Thu: Policy communication via social networks in Vietnam, Yearbook of the international scientific conference “Policy communication technology in the era 4.0”, Social Science Publishing House, Hanoi, 2022.

6. Luong Ngoc Vinh, Ngo Thanh Khien: Taking advantage of social networks in the Party’s communication work, https://tuyengiao.vn.



Academy of Journalism and Communication

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