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Social Media Marketing and Japanese Businesses


Social media is important in the Japanese market. Most Japanese net users will usually be familiar with Facebook, Twitter, or Mixi. While the social media market in Japan was relatively closed to external companies before 2011, the use of these networks during the earthquake that occurred in that year led to an explosive growth of social media use.

How it differs from the West

In Japan, Facebook and Twitter only really took off after the great earthquake of 2011. Prior to that, the acceptance of these social media outlets was much slower than in the Western market. This is because these social networks were used to spread news and communicate with the public when traditional media were not accessible. These two social networks provided a valuable role in spreading news on blackouts or breaking developments. Since then, the public has largely adopted these platforms for entertainment, or for sharing family pictures with friends and keeping in touch. Secondary players in the Japanese market are always looking for partnerships with businesses or artists in an attempt to improve their own market share and increase their competitiveness.

The most effective marketing platforms

The Japanese social media market is notably volatile and market share tends to change frequently. Facebook overtook the dominant platform, Mixi, and now seems to be the most important social media platform for businesses wanting to use social media marketing in Japan.

Generally, businesses have increased their awareness of the Japanese social media market after the earthquake of 2011. This is because many of the people that created accounts to stay updated on news retained their social media accounts for personal use. The launch of business-related Facebook initiatives like Facebook Navi also helped businesses in the Japanese market realize the enormous potential of this technology for marketing their products and services.

Using social media effectively

As with most social media strategies, the basic tactic is to use a steady stream of updates that may be relevant to the target demographic. This increases the following of a particular social media presence. It is also important to interact regularly with customers, commenting on responses, asking questions for feedback, and engaging directly. The strength of social media marketing is that it allows companies to have a virtual relationship with customers, engaging directly through social media channels. The holy grail of social media marketing is always to create viral content, photos and video clips that become so popular that they are shared by the consumers, thus promote the company’s services without the need for direct investment in marketing.

Quirks of the Japanese social media scene

It is important to include pictures with any posts. It is also necessary to maintain an image that is both professional but not overly stiff or formal. Japanese consumers will appreciate relevant posts, and topics that are not relevant will put off your target demographic. In general, the interactivity and immediacy of social media make it a very effective tool for marketing to a Japanese consumer base. Some aspects to focus on when using social media marketing in Japan include the following:

1. Softening a formal, rigid company image
2. Humanizing a business
3. Reaching consumers with interactive content such as contests and games
4. Making consumers aware of a short term, special offer or promotion

About the Guest Author:

Nida Rasheed

Nida Rasheed is a freelance writer and owner of an outsourcing company, Nida often finds herself wanting to write about the subjects that are closest to her heart. She lives in Islamabad, Pakistan and can be found on Twitter @nidarasheed.

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