hat examines the state of social media around the globe. Mindjumpers’ global network consists of local country community managers, creating a platform of multinational professionals. It is their insights enable us to execute and maintain brand communities around the world in a structured, quality assured and cost effective way.
An island in the Pacific Ocean, a culture with a heritage that dates back thousands of years and one of the world’s largest economies. Japan’s social media landscape is equally as diverse as the country’s description. We’ve taken a look at some of the leading social platforms and emerging new trends in the land of the rising sun.
Local community manager Kiran Larange shares his knowledge.
Japan’s social status quo
Japan is one of the few countries that managed to actually keep its local social networks more popular than the media giant Facebook. The population is extremely mobile-centric, which has lead brands to focus their energy on engaging consumers through social media on mobile devices.
Japan is a well-known high context society, meaning the public is homogenous and prone to be affected by peer pressure. Though the Japanese have a tendency to remain closed, younger generations are however open-minded and don’t hold back when it cones to expressing themselves on social media. The display of one’s private life is probably most obvious on Facebook, there seems to be different degrees, which is attributable to the individual’s profession.
While the selfie skyrocketed, other noteworthy trends saw the light of day in Asia too. Anonymous users created collages – editing well known celebrities or current happenings into humorous imagery. Figure skating Olympic medallist Yuzuru Hanyu’s collage enjoyed a lot of buzz. An app that has started another popular trend descending from a more cultural Japanese art form is Manga camera. This app applies digital filters similar to Instagram, but transforms photos to look like a page of a manga.
Social platforms: Mixi, LINE and Nico-Nico
Between 2006-2011 the domestic network Mixi used to be the number one choice of media platforms among the youth. Originally targeted as a networking service for people in the creative industry, Mixi required an invitation to join and therefore had a limited amount of users. Privacy and anonymity was ensured, as the network allowed online pseudonyms. However the network’s slow reaction to become smartphone compatible was rather late and eventually resulted in a loss of users similar to Myspace. Enter Twitter and Facebook whose popularity started to increase around this time. Not surprisingly it was college students who first started shifting to Facebook, and it didn’t take long for the rest of the public to follow. As of 2013, Facebook users in Japan reached 22 million and Mixi has been experiencing a steady decline in users ever since.
Japan’s answer to Youtube is Nico-Nico. The content is highly domestic ranging from geeky crossovers and semi 2 channel users (2 channel is a popular online bulletin-board service) to the average Joes. Despite of its seemingly peaking popularity, 2 channel is now a dying service, this is probably due to an aging population and the service’s unwelcoming tone towards newcomers.
Prior to Pinterest’s launch, Sumally is another social service, which is concentrated around users sharing their “haves and wants”, the platform recently launched a social commerce function last year. In general sharing photos of food was said to be a Japanese tradition. Other services that are popular in this specific genre include; Tabelog, cookpad, retty, miil, and Synchro life.
Since 2012 LINE has become the most popular communication tool and network, and is believed to be Skype’s biggest competitor. At the end of 2013 this network counted 5,000,000 domestic users and remains the biggest trend in Japan at the moment – especially among teenagers. LINE can be described as a crossover and functions similar to Facebook messenger and Viber with free phone calls, but with its own peculiar features. As an example, users can send stamps. These humorous and cute cartoon-like motives can be compared to an evolutionary form of emoticons, some of which are not free. The network also includes popular social games such as LINE POP.
And while we are at communication services, January saw Japan’s internet monster Rakuten buy the well-known Viber. In the wake of LINE’s success it is highly anticipated that Rakuten now wants a piece of the communication pie through flash marketing- pushing coupons and sales offers on Viber.