If you have read our post about Social Media Users in Japan, the top Digital Platforms in Japan, or how Twitter is more popular than Facebook in Japan, then you know a good amount about the Japanese social media landscape.
However, there is still a lot to learn about Japan’s top social media network. To help you understand Japan’s differences in social media trends, user behaviors, and breakthrough platforms, this article will cover these topics with data and social media trends in 2022. where brands and audiences are settling into new normals after an incredibly turbulent time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Japan’s Digital Landscape in 2022
Line is immensely popular in two countries: Japan and Taiwan. LINE is one of many messaging apps, however, is it so much more than that to the Japanese public.
It initially gained popularity after the 2011 earthquake and an almost nuclear meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi. Many used LINE as a way to stay connected during these times which resulted in LINE having over 50 million users in the first year.
LINE was developed for families and friends to keep in touch during times of crisis, so its relevance remained strong in Japan where natural disasters are possible. There’s been a spike in usage at the start of the pandemic which demonstrates how LINE is still prominent.
With a large user base and covering over 70% of the Japanese population, it’s no surprise that the demographic breakdown is spread fairly evenly.
“LINE’s objective is to become an all-encompassing app for both young and old user’s needs.” For that reason, it has social media features like media timelines but also being able to make payments within the app. These forms of cashless payments are attractive with coupons and loyalty programs with LINE Pay.
LINE Manga is a digital comic service that offers users a convenient way to read manga and novels on people’s smartphones either as part of LINE messaging app or as a separate app.
As we can see, LINE evolved from when it was just a messaging app. More people are using it for numerous reasons and it has gained several businesses and brands who want to use LINE to attract potential consumers.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2022-23
It is likely that more brands will be part of LINE advertising as part of their Japanese marketing strategies as well as a customer retention tool. This allows brands to send text updates, incentives such as coupons and flyers, and company news. There might be more companies that will experiment with LINE’s new PPC ad option.
Many Japanese households have been using YouTube as a substitute for TV. This can be seen as it is being added by the use of smart TVs. On the contrary, Japan’s video streaming market is increasing fast. With a streaming war between international streaming companies such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Netflix with local providers from Hulu Japan, DoCoMo Anime Store, and UNext, Youtube has found success.
This platform offers numerous features with unique appeals. For example, many enjoy the sheer amount of content that can be found on YouTube. While these videos are user-generated, Youtube often allows real-time interaction with other users as part of an interest-based community.
Home video content such as home exercise, cooking, and DIY content has increased in 2020 and has continued to grow. With over half of the Japanese popular regulating using Youtube for various of reason, this platform has played a major role in people’s free time.
As we can see, Japan’s Youtube age demographics have a large young user base, with the largest group being males aged 18-22. This might have been a result of many Japanese influences and celebrities pulling their young fan base when making their debut on Youtube.
During the pandemic, many young people used Youtube news channels and some trusted vloggers rather than the traditional mainstream media to learn more about Japan’s state of emergency during the start of the pandemic when the government’s advice and restrictions were rapidly changing.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2022-23
According to a report by GWI, there is still hesitancy within the Japanese population when it comes to physical stores because of the risk of COVID-19. With the growing Japanese eCommerce market (link to eCommerce articles), there will likely be more product/brand-related content such as reviews, unboxings, and comparisons that will perform well on Youtube Japan.
Brands are looking to capitalize on Youtube by sponsoring influencers to feature their products in their videos. This is maybe negotiated through an agreement or brands might send out free samples to popular YouTubers within their sector. This is called “gifting.”
Peer reviews and recommendations are very important in Japan compared to other countries in the world. This might be due to a higher level of distrust and avoiding any uncertainty. So it’s a smart move for brands entering the Japanese market or wanting to grow their presence by partnering with YouTubers or even growing their channel.
Japan is Twitter’s second-largest market right after the US. This is a very interesting face since Facebook is globally the number one platform. A few reasons why Twitter is number one in Japan are:
- Twitter allows more online anonymity than Facebook
- Many Japanese people preferred to be anonymous when engaging online
- Twitter and other similar apps offer the convenience of small-size content when on the go
- 92% of the Japanese population live in urban areas and spend a lot of time commuting between home, work, and or school
- Japanese celebrities, politicians, and other notable figures are the amount the most popular accounts in Japan. They are active users who usually post once or more a day.
- Therefore: Twitter gives a better glance into what is happening in the world
Twitter is a growing popular platform across the wide ages in Japan. It has been promoted by brands, influencers, and marketers that reshaped Twitter to connect with people both young and old. The presence of politicians and government spokespeople has brought many older users who have been historically almost unreachable on Twitter before.
Predictions for 2022-23
Many have commented that Twitter will mostly lose its users as people lean towards more visual and video-based apps.
However, quick updates, news about important issues, and many influential people on this platform allows users to know what’s going on, supporting the platform’s ongoing popularity, especially in Japan.
The business will take advantage of Twitter’s large user base through the use of customer retention tactics; however, more marketers will most likely use Twitter as a social listening tool.
Unlike Facebook or Instagram, most of the shared content is opinion-based. So by reading the tweets and threads, you can see key trends and themes. This allows brands to have a better understanding of the ways people think and feel about certain topics. Brands can create a communication strategy on Twitter and other platforms based on these topics.
When building your Twitter strategy, make a majority of the tweets about current events in your company, industry, city, or country. This can also include seasons and weather can allow better engagement and customer information about stock, opening times, or holidays.
Instagram has a UX design on mobile phones, allows anonymity, and has highly visual and aspirational content. This has made it popular in the Japanese population.
This has created communities and a wide range of categories on Instagram such as beauty, fashion, travel, and food as well as gaming, wellness, and social justice. Many brands that started on Facebook are now shifting to Instagram.
Instagram’s video feature such as Reels, IGTV, and Stories has provided the platform to be more reluctant. This allows people and brands to post longer forms of content and glimpses into real life.
All these features can call companies to reach out to a younger and more diverse audience.
Instagram is still the best place to target and reach out to young Japanese women who are interested in fashion, beauty, music, food, and entertainment.
There’s been an increase in users over the age of 35 recently. This could be the result of the older generation moving to social media at the beginning of the pandemic and continuing to use the platform.
Predictions for 2022-23
- Augmented reality (AR) for Instagram shopping feature. With eCommerce on the platform, any brand can reline the attention of new customers through creative and engaging ad content
- More video-based content and music to similarly match TikTok style
- More research for partnerships with influencers and digital creators to build their presence
If you are trying to grow your business contacts and sell B2B in Japan use Facebook! Facebook is the best option when it comes to achieving these objectives and you can find senior-level professionals that will have a similar profile on LinkedIn.
However, Facebook’s success in Japan is modest. Compared to other social media platforms, it has a lower user base in Japan.
There are many articles about how and why Facebook “failed” in Japan. Here are a couple of notes about it:
- Facebook’s real name policy: this made it difficult for Japanese people to use the platform. They are concerned about the invasion of privacy and prefer to participate anonymously.
- Makes it easy for old friends, acquaintances, and colleagues to add you as a friend. Declining an invite might be seen as rude and this reduces the freedom and escapism that Japanese people try to find on other platforms
As time passes, Facebook becomes less relevant in Japan compared to a platform like Twitter. It has a founder time to retain and attract a younger generation.
Still, this platform has 49 million users. Not just for casual users, but also business and marketing such as B2B for goods and services.
Predictions for 2022-23
It seems that Facebook will remain relevant for users over 35. While companies might shift their focus to other platforms, those in B2B sector will be able to reach out and make connections with customers and clients.
The current trend favors quick videos as it seems people have short attention spans. This is great to get quick information out in a short amount of time, which has allowed TikTok to skyrocket in popularity. Its algorithm, trend-orientated, and video-first approach have found success in Japan.
Akira Suzuki, head of TikTok’s in-house planning and creative unit in Japan explained that certain drivers contribute to the success of content on this platform. This includes advertisers increasing ads recall, brand awareness, and using hashtags.
Tik Tok has these features:
- There’s greater interest in social causes, breaking stereotypes, and spreading positive messages to people. If there is a cause that people care able, users will create and/or share content to spread and promote the information
- younger demographics users try something new and are willing to embrace the challenge
- Able to capture lighthearted and exciting characters. It’s a fun platform to use.
Tiktok is popular among the younger demographic. This is a major concern for many Japanese brands since it is one of the most rapidly aging and declining populations.
Some thought this platform was only temporary, similar to Vines and MixChannel that has disappeared from the social media landscape. However, it means that this is the best online social media space to reach out to Gen Z teenagers.
Predictions for 2022-23
Many older users and brands that cater to an older demographic are scared to move to TikTok. Some view TikTok as different from what they are used to and others view it as a waste of time and investment in it is not worth it yet.
With TikTok success and trend-setting algorithm, there might be a migration of the older generation to this platform.
The challenge for marketers is adapting the process and content that matches the TikTok style. Many brands might be forced to take a step back from the creative process and have influencers take control to increase their exposure on the platform. While this platform favors short-form videos, TikTok is about to stay long-term relevant.
“Before rushing to this platform, think about its options and flexibility of how ads work on TikTok. This can limit your performance and outreach to the audience”
Other SNS Platforms in Japan
Here are other SNS platforms in Japan that still has a presence.
Despite being a more business orient platform, LinkedIn has not been able to penetrate the Japanese population. This may be because of the cultural difference as Japanese individuals are reluctant to share their work experience or publish their CV/resume publicly. This can be viewed they are looking for work elsewhere. Another reason is that Japan highly values face-to-face interaction rather than direct messaging people
Japan's Social Media Trends in 2022
Various changes are happening on Japanese social media. Here are some interesting themes and features that has emerged.
Japan is second to last in Edleman’s Trust Barometer after only Russia. In a country with a strong distrust of organization, it is not surprising that many will use social media for answers rather than a mainstream TV news channel.
Unfortunately, quick information can lead to sharing fake news and/or wrong facts, which might lead to unnecessary panic and concern in society.
When the pandemic reached Japan, social media platforms became home to new communities for people supporting people looking for answers. So, platforms like Twitter and LINE became a lifeline for directly affected individuals, especially those who want people in and outside Japan to connect, share, volunteer, donate and provide information-based support.
Japan’s social media space has been used to voice criticism about the government, especially those relating to the pandemic. As a way, SNS platforms became a substitute for public events where online forums are the place to post about one’s thoughts and share them with other people.
Most noticeable, people would get supportive responses encouragement, and give each other solutions to help one another for certain communities as well as praising those who they feel deserve it, such as charities and frontline health workers.
The pandemic has pushed influencers and high-profile individuals in the community to take on a greater leadership role. As well as government officials, many popular YouTubers have faced increasing attention as people looked increasingly to those in their social networks for guidance and advice — trusting their opinions more than anyone else’s.
Many Japanese individuals are expected to shop directly through their SNS platform as well as use social media as a stepping stone to finding new brands. Features and digital tech as allowed many people to use AR to help with online shopping, but only time will tell if these are well received by Japanese consumers.
As Japan’s eCommerce market continues to grow, SNS will become a major role in supporting online shopping as well as directly reaching and serving customers through their platform purchase and payment system.
Brands had always a difficult time reaching out and gaining recognition by the older demographic through social media. However, there seems to be an uptake among seniors using platforms such as Facebook recently.
With Japan’s aging population and their seniors with the highest disposable income, brands are likely to launch new campaigns to connect with them.
People’s lifestyles and outlooks have drastically changed with the pandemic. While normality has come back, COVID-19 still affects people’s behavior. From GWI’s 2021 Japan report, they have found that Japanese respondents:
- 73% are uncomfortable at large outdoor events
- 69% are uncomfortable with indoor dining
- 41% are uncomfortable with in-store shopping
- 68% are uncomfortable on public transport
Brands are interacting with audiences where their priorities, concerns, and interests have changed. SO they are adapting their messaging approach.
Many companies have changed their approach to content such as having more emphasis on social responsibility, safety, and product durability.
Whether it is genuine or a marketing tactic, many brands in has taken a more responsible, responsive, and compassionate tone on their SNS platform.
Advice for Brands Using Social Media in Japan
Achieving your goals on the SNS platform might come at a cost. While it is possible to organically grow, you can have a budget to gain further reach to your audience. Having a realistic budget allows you to keep track of expenses when trying to make sales and/or be aware of KPIs.
When you take the time to understand the type of content people consume on each SNS platform, then engagement and responses are possible.
Many platforms have a high amount of paid or sponsored ads. However, if your content is creative and appropriate for your audience, then social ads can be your greatest tool for growing interest in your band.
Many foreign brands use the same approach for different social media platforms and levels of marketing. While in Japan, it is not as different, the interest and behavior of people indicate that want something more unique. So brands need to create new social media strategies to gain and build a following.