Posts Tagged ‘social media’

2012: The year in social media in Japan

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

LINE graph. Courtesy of NHN Corp.

In terms of Japan’s social media scene, 2012 was without a doubt the year of Line. The free application launched by NHN Japan in mid-2011 was initially created to allow free VoIP calls between Line users. This year it quickly snowballed into something much bigger: It now has an Instagram analogue in Pick, a social dashboard like Facebook, and is starting to pick up where the faltering Facebook Check-in Coupon fell off with its own location-based Coupon app. But one of Line’s most popular features is the ever-changing selection of cute stickers that you can add to text messages.

Line’s growth has been astounding: It reached the 50 million user mark at 399 days – more than twice as fast as both Twitter and Facebook. The most recent numbers, for November 2012, claim 80 million users, 36.5 million of whom live in Japan. The number of users shot past Facebook, which has only a little more than half as many users in Japan, with the number apparently plateauing in the last quarter of the year.

This year did, however, see Facebook edge out domestic rival Mixi, which has been faltering. Last June, Nikkei reported that Mixi’s active users for the month of March were 15 million (out of 27 million registered users). Not too bad, except that page views had dropped by 10 million in the past year – a loss of one-third. Mixi recently partnered with social gaming powerhouse DeNA to create a shared social gaming platform that will be live next year. We’ll see if that is enough to save Mixi – it certainly needs something.

And Twitter? While Japan is a distant third behind the U.S. and Brazil in number of accounts, Tokyo is the No. 2 city in the world for sheer number of tweets, according to a report by Semiocast. However, the same report also showed that Japan had the second slowest rate of new user registration after a flurry of growth last year.

Continue reading about social media in 2012 →

New Japanese tourists: have social network, will travel

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Users post original ideas for adventurous holidays on Trippeace to find new traveling companions

Fancy learning how to ride an elephant in Laos? How about shouting your New Year’s dreams from the top of Ayer’s Rock in Australia? Trippeace, a “social travel service,” is helping a new generation of Japanese travelers make their wildest vacation dreams a reality. Since its launch in August last year, the site has picked up over 20,000 members, over a thousand of whom have taken part in group vacations.

The project is the brainchild of Ian Ishida, a 22-year-old university student, and the idea is to enable young Japanese to experience a different kind of vacation. Members post ideas for a holiday and via Facebook, Twitter or Google+, they can discuss the details with other interested parties. Once a concrete travel plan has been made, Trippeace acts as a travel agent, making all the travel arrangements for participants. With a 10 percent commission on these arrangements, according to an article in Nikkei Trendy, Trippeace had made ¥200,000,000 by June this year.

It’s a remarkable achievement, seeing as this generation of young Japanese is much less adventurous when it comes to traveling abroad than the previous generation. Immigration statistics compiled by the Ministry of Justice show that overseas travel by young Japanese has fallen significantly from a peak in the mid-’90s.

Ishida isn’t the only one to come up with this concept. A similar service called Grvel was launched in December 2011. The name is pronounced “guruvelu,” a mash-up of “group travel.” But although Grvel made a selling point of offering group discounts to users who got together for a proposed trip, the lack of recent activity on the site seems to suggest that the scheme isn’t taking off in the same way as Trippeace. For those who want to cut out the middleman and book trips themselves, Taviko, a service that has been running since 2011, focuses on helping users find fellow travelers for whatever destination they have in mind via Facebook and Twitter. But again, it hasn’t seen anything like the level of traffic as Trippeace.

Canny marketing seems to have contributed a great deal to Trippeace’s success and the website is currently offering to pay the travel expenses of the first group to recruit 100 participants for a trip idea. Ishida is hoping this helps get 100,000 people registered for the service by October this year, with a view to possibly taking the service global in the future.

Today’s J-blip: Seiyu social TV commercial

Monday, August 27th, 2012

seiyu

The diver had a matchmaking party in a sumo ring?

The latest commercial from supermarket chain Seiyu has customers calling the shots. The marketing department supplied only the vaguest scenario, “something falls.” The rest of the who, what, where and when of  the “Seiyu Social CM” were put to an online poll. Participants choose the person and the location from a multiple choice list that brings to mind a Japan-specific version of who-dunnit board game Clue.

An Yahoo News article tried out some of the possible combinations from the choices given, including: “A female shell diver is at a ramen shop having an argument when her zipper falls.” Voters, however, were far more earnest in the message they sent the company. “Supermarket” got the most votes for the “where” and “prices” was one of the top choices for what they wanted to see fall.

With voting now over, the crowd-sourced commercial is set to air Sept. 15. (Spoiler alert: The winning scenario sees a psychic at the supermarket engaging in a suspicious transaction, when a mysterious lever falls.)

Today’s J-blip: Oronamin C 7/3 Facebook Campaign

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The vitamin drink Oronamin C, friend to hungover salarymen everywhere, launched a campaign today where one lucky person an hour, for 73 hours, will each win 50 bottles of the sweet and sour beverage. The catch? Contestants must install a Facebook app, “like” the Oronamin C page, and fill out a simple form. Yes, it’s a marketing ploy for the company to gather information and boost its Facebook followers, but giving away that much Oronamin (3,650 bottles in total!) is still pretty cool.

What’s the deal with the number 73, though? It’s a play on the Japanese spelling of the popular drink, where 7= na(na) and 3=mi. By 1 p.m. today, they will have already given away 650 bottles. A lucky 60 people still have a chance to win, so if you’re interested, start by “liking” Oronamin C’s page, and then start thinking about where you’ll stash all those little brown bottles.

Stationery trends worth taking note of

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The start of the new school year in April makes this a great time for Japanese to indulge in their fetish for stationery. Despite increasing digitalization in the workplace, many people still relish the opportunity to write their kanji by hand and the market for notepads and pens is still remarkably healthy. In this post we take a look at a few stationery trends.

Heart shaped scotch tape holder

As usual kawaii (cuteness) is king and products such as  Nichiban’s new heart-shaped scotch tape holders, which can be hung from a school bag on a strap, look set to sell well among the back-to-school school set. But the grown-up female market is all about notebooks, according to Nikkei Trendy. Functionality and high quality are the watchwords here. One example being Midori’s to-do-list notepad from their Ojisan range, featuring little boxes that can be ticked once a task has been accomplished. The on the dot range of notepads by Maruai Select utilizes dots instead of ruled lines or squares and is a creative format, giving the option for users to write horizontally, vertically or use the space for making sketches.

A couple of years ago Ending Note notebooks were a hit with the elderly population, allowing them to write down useful information for relatives to use in the event of their death. The idea of using a notebook to store useful information in has been developed by Kokuyo who’ve brought out a notepad aimed at women that lets them record information about their relationships with other people. There is a space to write out your family tree, a place to record information about people you’ve met on social networks (useful for those who forget who all their Facebook “friends” are) and a place to record information on gifts you’ve received and gifts you ought to give.

King Jim's Shot Note app fuses analog and digital notetaking

Though notebooks are very nice, for those who use them regularly, they do tend to pile up, creating unwieldy mounds of unsorted information. Electronics manufacturer King Jim has come up with an app to solve this problem. Shot Note allows you to digitize and sort your analog notes by taking a photo with your smartphone and uploading it to a database. It automatically resizes the image, cutting off the space left at the corners of the paper and also adjusts the color to be easily read. The app has proved popular and downloads have now exceeded 1 million.

Some stationery makers are looking to the past for inspiration. Okimak, for instance, has revived the craft of kamiko, a waterproof material made from washi paper that has the look and feel of distressed leather. Made by crumpling washi so that it becomes soft and malleable, then coating the paper in tree sap to make it waterproof, Okimak makes really beautiful book covers and pen cases.

2012 trends: consumer ‘neta,’ relocating and regional flavors

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

On Jan. 10 Recruit, a corporation that has its fingers in a number of different pies, including tourism, recruitment, real estate and publishing, published its trend forecasts for 2012. Though Recruit has a vested in fulfilling its own prophesies, a few predictions really did seem on the mark. Here’s the best of the bunch:

  • Free word of mouth: The rise in the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter during 2011 obviously brought more young Japanese closer together, and more than ever, marketing divisions wanted to tap into the consumer posses that make recommendations. Recruit’s free magazine R25 predicts that the big thing this year will be companies finding clever ways to provide netizens with opportunities to write neta (amusing stories). The shy consumer on the social network will have something to post, sans that nasty self-promotional aftertaste, and the company gets a free, natural-tasting word-of-mouth plug. Sounds like super-stealth marketing to us, but we’ll see.
  • Relocating: When the earthquake occurred, many of those working in Tokyo were unable to get home after train services were cancelled. Being stranded in Tokyo was that bit more stressful for working couples who had children. In light of this experience, Recruit’s real estate website SUUMO predicts that double income families will be looking to either relocate to locations closer to work, or seek employment closer to home. Centrally located compact apartments for those who can’t change jobs but want to cut the commute may prove popular in April (the busiest month for real estate agents in Japan). For added peace of mind and extra childcare support, many couples will also be considering moving closer to their parents, or even moving in with them, and that might mean that large apartments that can accommodate three generations could be in demand.
  • Gotouchi-ism: According to Jalan Research Center (a subsidiary of Recruit), the quake in 2011 sparked a resurgence of pride in all things Japanese, particularly in the unique charm of different localities. Gotouchi means “your home town” and has been a buzzword used particularly in connection with the b-kyu gourmet boom: a trend for simple regional cuisine. Last year as well as gotouchi gourmet, there was a rise in interest in gotouchi idols — pop groups who promote their localities. Following on from this it’s predicted that tourists taking holidays within Japan in 2012 will be seeking a gotouchi experience: to connect with the everyday lives of the locals by paying to participate in activities that offer a taste of the local lifestyle. Though Recruit don’t specify what this might exactly entail, we think it could be making crafts, or even going out into the fields and working alongside farmers.

2011 trends: Social media in Japan comes of age

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

2011 was the year that social media came into its own in Japan. When phones went down on March 11, Japan connected with Twitter, mixi and Facebook in record numbers. Social media went from being a curiosity to a lifeline. Connecting online wasn’t just for the users, either; in 2011, the social media sites started friending each other.

Mixi and Twitter announced a partnership in November, possibly to shore up against a rapidly growing Facebook. With growth spurred by the movie “The Social Network,” Facebook was named the no. 2 “hit product” of 2011 by Nikkei Trendy magazine. While earlier in the year it looked like Facebook was getting left behind by Japan’s own social media sites, a November Nielsen report showed Facebook pulling ahead in the last quarter to surpass Mixi for the first time with some 11 million users. However, Mixi quickly issued a statement saying it actually had about double the 8.4 million active users that Nielsen had reported, since many people access the site from their cellphones, which the Nielsen report didn’t track.

As before, mobile remains a major access mode for online content in Japan. Whether or not Mixi actually feels threatened by Facebook, the tie-up with Twitter suggests it’s watching its back.

In another partnership, Google+ partnered with pop idol juggernaut AKB48 and its regional versions, for a total of almost 90 individual accounts. The performers have swamped the top 100 most popular users list in Japan, leaving only a handful of spots for other idols and Japanese tech gurus.

Two of the largest social networks in Japan are mobile gaming sites. GREE and Mobage Town have over 20 million users each. Mobage Town’s parent company DeNA has been making acquisitions in international markets including China, the U.S. and Chile, again showing the importance of collaboration for social sites.

Continue reading about social media in Japan →

Fukulog shares its looks with Asia

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Focusing on Asian cities, Fukulog World Snap was launched this month

Don’t you hate it when you’ve created that perfect look, but apart from parading yourself up and down the boulevard, you’ve got no one to show it off to? How are you to know if your ensemble is spot on or way off target? Social fashion site Fukulog provides a solution. Every day 70 to 100 users post their look on the website for other users to see, comment on and approve of. The site, which was launched late 2009 in Japan, is now so popular that the company behind the project is set to launch the concept on the global stage.

Since Fukulog launched its Facebook page in February this year Honey Entertainment, which manages Fukulog, noticed that the site was making waves overseas. In a recent press release the company announced that over 67,000 of their Facebook fans were foreigners (at the time of writing the total number of fans of the page was 70,257). Reacting to this popularity the company launched Fukulog World Snap on July 15. Initially focusing on Singapore, Taipei, Shanhai and Hong Kong, Fukulog has recruited fashionistas from those city’s to upload portraits of trendy types spotted out and about.

Despite the fact that the Facebook page currently caters to foreign fans by including posts in English, phrases like “to share your favorite fashion coordinates” suggest that they’ve got a ways to go before they become a truly international site. Fukulog’s main site is currently only accessible in Japanese, but Honey Entertainment is aiming to provide the service in English and Chinese by September this year.

So, what’s so great about this service that gives it the potential to go global? As opposed to other street-fashion sites, it doesn’t have invisible arbiters telling users what’s hot or not. All users can vote freely and upload their own looks freely. Furthermore, users post info about where they purchased clothes and the site easily links to those stores’ websites. The site, which allows you to browse via brand ranking, is also a good barometer of what’s trending now on the streets of Japan.

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