Unlike in other Asian and Western countries, the social network sites in Japan did not commence until in 2003 with Goco as the pioneering network. A year after, Mixi came to the limelight, and was followed by MySpace in 2006, 2nd Life in 2007, then Twitter in 2008. Each of these social networks was a success one way or another. Each also shares common features and is distinguished from the rest with its unique distinctions.
Photo upload is among the primordial features of these networks, where the account owners and friends are able to view and make comments about the photos, and where everyone can connect to others through various levels of networks. There is also the community interaction. The blogging is another feat which allows account owners to express emotions and thoughts. Shout-out is a micro-version of blogging.
While at the beginning, the social media sites were only patronized mostly by teenagers and college students, the introduction of LinkedIn in 2003 created a new market—the professionals, entrepreneurs, and corporations. In Japan, the functionality of social media gears towards financial, informational, and physical gains. The social networks have become a source of useful information for job applicants, employers, and entrepreneurs.
Communication becomes an integral part of every social network. This communication feature was exemplified in the wake of catastrophes that struck Japan. These network sites were the platform of exchanging crucial information between the Japanese and agents of government for rescue operations, and between Japan and other countries for relief operations and other activities.
Facebook and Twitter Give Faces to Media Users
While only 58 per cent (based on comScore) of Internet users also use social media, the people who engage in social network activities did so anonymously. In a local survey conducted as of March 2012, the attitude in using real name today has been represented by 44 per cent in favor compared to 5 per cent a year ago.
The launch of Facebook in 2005 attracted high school students for age-relevant networking. Facebook slowly proves its worth to other markets especially the corporations and entrepreneurship, both of which realized they need to make changes in their strategies online to reach out to their liberal audience, who dare to reveal their real names in social network activities. In 2010, Facebook introduced an interface change plus an office in Tokyo.
As of March 2012, Facebook has 10 million monthly users, a figure double than in the last six months. These statistics put Facebook as the second most popular social network in Japan after Mixi with 15 million subscribers. Mixi, threatened with the progress of Facebook teamed up with Twitter. The duo has not disappointed their followers and subscribers thus far.
On the other hand, Japanese people are easily drawn to the features of Facebook and Twitter as they are able to connect to the other side of the world, and businesses reach out to their consumers more easily and quickly. Two of the popular social networks that served as a key tool for communications during the last earthquake in Japan were Facebook and Twitter.
Slow but Sure
Despite being a voracious technology consumer, Japan is a late bloomer in social networking. Japanese people are more inclined in gaming in different consoles including smart phones. A year before the country reaches a decade in engaging in social media, Japan promises a lucrative and competitive market. It breeds innovative ideas lucrative for a business for targeted markets. For example, as Japan is already saturated with mobile gaming platforms, Facebook takes advantage in providing effective tools for local business, a feature that is an instant success for local entrepreneurs. Facebook designed it that whenever someone signs up, all the largest Facebook pages appear on the “suggested pages.”
Meanwhile, Twitter, available in Japanese language two years ago, supports individualism, a characteristic of Japanese people. Best known as a micro-blogging site, Twitter provides an attractive platform for Japanese people from all walks of life.
The impact of social media from the Western world may be slowly surfacing in Japan. But not all as Japan, too, has its homegrown social media. At best, the social media in Japan will be reflective of its culture and history—rich, dynamic and colorful.
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About the Guest Author:
Rodolfo Lentejas, Jr. is a fulltime freelance writer based in Toronto. He is the founder of the PostSckrippt, a growing online writing business dedicated to producing top quality, original and fresh content. To know more about him, please visit www.postsckrippt.ca. Like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.