A Social Media Status Quo Pt.1-Japan

Mindjumpers Logohat 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.

Behavioural insights

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.

Trends

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.

manga-camera-iPhone

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.

line

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.

 

 

Social Media Trends, Prospects, and Challenges in India

Our ever-growing global network of Local Social Media Managers around the world helps us ensure contextually relevant content through social listening, content production and response management. It’s a network of very talented people who possess great knowledge of social media in their local context – one of them being Nishanth Krish from India who shares his insights into the social media trends, prospects and challenges in India right now.

 

 

India is a mobile first country where 41% of total mobile users are active on social media. And it remains the fastest growing market for social networks in the world. The increasing affordability and use of Smartphones as internet devices means India is serving data to almost one billion mobile phones, and an individual spends an average of 3 hours on social media every day irrespective of device.
However, this rise of social media adoption among Indians has led to a growing concern over poor Internet speed in the country. Internet access is still unevenly distributed with connection speeds remaining disappointingly slow at just 2 Mbps on average, far below the global average of 4.5 Mbps.

Digital India, a program to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by the government is expected to enable high-speed Internet connectivity across the length and breadth of the country, which will ultimately join the social media bandwagon and create a positive network effect for further growth.

 

Personalized Content is the Key

As much as our counterparts in other countries do, we consume content, but are averse to sharing. We Indians are conservative by nature and often not as open to sharing content online. Brands have realized that social media is not only about posting brand updates, but also about driving engagement by creating meaningful conversations. In our country of diverse culture, language and practices, brands are developing customized content, which is both relevant and appealing. Top brands such as PepsiCo and Bharti Airtel have integrated regional languages into their digital campaigns, resulting in more than 150% engagement compared to identical English posts.

Indians today are looking for a more personalized social networking platform where they can communicate with different groups of people. As eyeballs have shifted into the digital world, media spend has been following suit. Indian advertisers are spending far more on social media ads compared to their global counterparts. India is projected to be amongst the top three countries in the APAC region as regards its CAGR (2012-2016) in digital media ad spend and many brands have effectively developed tactics to enhance visibility by investing in promoted posts/tweets that carry targeted information about offers, coupons and contests through custom targeting.

Social media platforms have been a melting pot for running promotional campaigns for e-tailers understanding the different user behavior attributes, interests and changing buying behavior patterns. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and e-commerce brands like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are blending their assets across platforms to tap into customer preferences. Moreover, e-tailers are reducing the length of the purchase cycle by using features like the ‘Get Deals’ button.

 

Catching the Eye Balls

Images and short format videos are gaining traction in India. Visual rich media content clearly dominates the social media space and gains the majority of engagement with Indian audiences as more people than ever before are sharing, discovering and engaging with videos on Facebook and as content creators build and engage a global audience. From increasing audience traffic to digital publishers and the high level of online conversation during major events, this growth in content discovery and discussion is taking place across social platforms.

 

Reaching the Rural 

The soul of India lives in its villages with 60 percent of the population residing here. To reach the under-penetrated areas, Facebook has initiated the Internet.org project with a vision to provide basic mobile Internet services for free. The service is run by Internet.org in collaboration with a number of telecom players. This service is available in English and six local languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi — and can be accessed via a dedicated Android app.

Facebook is by far the social networking platform with the widest reach, boasting of 118 million monthly active users in India, out of which 55-60 million are daily active users. 95 per cent of these users are ‘mobile-also’ users.

Twitter has specialized its service for the Indian audience with hashtags in regional languages and the ability to support regional language scripts, which has helped the social networking giant to reach out to the large number of non-English users in India who were previously untouched by the phenomenon of micro blogging.

Twitter in India takes center stage for breaking news and special events, bolstered by its partnership with broadcasters and media distributers. These partnerships have allowed Twitter to make the most of product innovations like polls, audio cards and the ability to share videos on the platform. Its rich media tweets gain far more reach than standard text-only tweets.

 

Focus on Social Mobile

Whether it’s discovering information about a breaking news story or an upcoming TV show, an exclusive screening of a movie trailer first or celebrities engaging with fans in authentic and meaningful ways, people converse on social media around the things that matter most.

As Indians continue to gain access to cheaper smartphones and data plans, with shifting platform preferences, it is imperative that brands shift focus to social mobile communications to reach out to an audience that are always on the go.

The future of social media marketing is expected to be mobile driven and in the year ahead it is most likely that we will be seeing more contextual and location centric content, helping brands to evaluate the different platforms better with accurate reporting capabilities for tracking engagement.