Even though Japanese social media can be difficult to navigate, you can still find ways to engage with customers on a personal level. And a good place to start is understanding the importance of anonymity in Japanese online culture – and its impact on each platform.
JAPANESE SOCIAL MEDIA: COVERTLY SOCIAL
There are many players on the Japanese social media scene – and they’re not all names you’d recognize. LINE, for example, is one of the leading platforms that is unique to the Japanese market. Although big networks like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all popular, they’re used for different reasons than in the West.
- LinkedIn vs Facebook
LinkedIn is not popular in Japan. Using it suggests you’re looking for a new job – and doing this publicly is considered unprofessional and disrespectful. For this reason, jobseekers use Facebook to speak to potential employers instead – which makes it a less social space than in the US.
Despite wanting to be anonymous, Japanese people still like to express their personalities by customizing their online presence.
Twitter is thus quite popular because it allows you to have fake names and avatars. Tweeting under another name allows you to express ideas without fear of being judged. This is mainly why Twitter has become a platform for voicing complaints and opinions, just like in the rest of the world.
YouTube initially struggled in Japan because users weren’t uploading content. Why? They didn’t want to be seen on camera. To fix this, YouTube in Japan focused on taking video of pets. This effort was a huge success. Now, YouTube is the most popular social media platform – and pet videos are the most popular genre, with many pets becoming Japanese pop-culture celebrities.
Instagram use is growing rapidly in Japanese social media. Because you can curate a personal page without having to use a real name or profile picture, the platform is perfect for anonymous personalization.
In terms of the content they share, Japanese Instagram users are aspirational. They are more likely to share luxury products they want to buy rather than ones they already own – and discuss ideas with larger purposes than themselves.
GET ON “LINE”
LINE is one of the fastest growing social media networks in Japan with a larger reach than any other platform. The messaging app resembles a more customizable version of Whatsapp. Users can talk to their friends and link with businesses or celebrities – using texts, pictures, videos and even cute stickers.
Because of this, LINE presents a huge opportunity for brands to personally connect with customers. Luxury brands in particular have been flocking to the platform recently.
TOP TIPS FOR LINE SUCCESS
1) Create branded LINE stickers
LINE stickers are cute or funny designs that users can send to each other. They’ve become so popular that two recurring characters – a bear and bunny pair called Brown and Cony – have developed a life of their own outside the app.
Users can download stickers from the sticker shop, and most sets sell for roughly a dollar. However, brands can create their own sets for users to download, and it’s common for them to give these away if users add the business as a friend.
The stickers are so popular with users that they’ve resulted in some of LINE’s biggest advertising success stories. Take Pepsi, for example. The soda company achieved success by creating sticker sets that featured Brown and Cony drinking Pepsi.
Like gifs or memes, users can send these stickers to their friends as a reflection of various everyday events. This helps increase recognition and appreciation of the brand.
2) Give out exclusive offers
When users add a company as a friend, they can receive discounts and offers. Giving out special discounts is a common marketing method on LINE because it appeals to Japanese users’ desire for personal touch.
3) LINE Points Ads
LINE points are another great promotion method. Users can build up points and spend them on themes, stickers and other packages. But to get points, they need to do specific tasks. Brands can determine what these tasks are – whether it’s watching an ad, downloading an app or adding an account.
If done well, as with so much else in Japanese social media, these strategies can increase your brand visibility while fostering stronger relationships with your customers.