Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

Making new connections over lunch

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Social Lunch app hooks up like-minded business people

A new way of networking is catching on with the twenty- to thirtysomething crowd in Japan. Social lunches arranged over the web, where those in similar industries get together for an informal chat have been growing in popularity lately. At the forefront of this trend is the Facebook app Social Lunch which matches up pairs of professionals for friendly lunches. The idea is that going with a friend you already know takes a lot of the stress out of occasion. According to J-Cast, since the app launched in October last year, 20,000 people have registered for the service and around 900 social lunch dates have taken place as a result.

The app, produced by SyncLunch Inc., is simple to use: Team up with a friend in a similar profession, type in preferred location and time and it will match you up with another pair who may be useful for you to network with for a lunch date. J-Cast’s writer signed up with a former colleague who was a graphic designer and was paired up with a couple of guys, one of whom was looking for design tips for his new website. The lunch was a success and seemed a possible opening to future collaborations.

A similar option is the Twitter-based Hirukai service from Digital Garage Inc. Instead of meeting at a restaurant, though, the meet-up organizer offers a space in their office for others to gather in. Bringing along their own bento lunches, those attending can swap ideas, or sandwiches, in an informal atmosphere.

The model for Social Lunch borrows something from gokon (group dating), in which  the presence of friends takes much of the stress out of an initial encounter with a potential partner. As marriage rates fall, gokon, konkatsu (marriage hunting) and now machikon events have been on the rise and this has been accompanied by a slew of  new apps to help young Japanese find Mr. or Ms. Right. As young Japanese are increasingly willing to try out group dating, it seems that the next logical step is for go-getters to find business partners by using similar methods.

Japan Inc. puts on its social game face

Friday, November 4th, 2011

While companies have been advertising within social networking games like Farmville for awhile now, it seems the next evolutionary step for companies is to create their own games for SNS. Indeed, in recent weeks we’ve witnessed three big Japanese corporations launch their own games free of charge on Facebook, indicating that this area might see some significant development in the months to come.

Win a free car with Honda's "Janken Survival"

Probably the most impressive of the three new game releases was Toyota’s Social Network Racer, a pro racing game in which users compete against each other on a virtual track. You can soup up your ride by racking up points, but the ultimate goal is to win a ticket to the Tokyo Motor Show. Made to promote Toyota’s FT-86 II Concept model, which is due to be unveiled at the show in December, a billboard above the track advertises the new model. The graphics for the game are pretty impressive, but unfortunately it takes awhile to load and you’ll need a high spec computer to run it.

Though Toyota’s game is probably more engaging over a longer period of time, games such as  Toshiba’s Smart Community Game are more immediately gratifying. Linking to your Facebook page via Toshiba’s Smart Community YouTube channel, the game simply involves dragging and dropping necessary resources onto photos of your friends. Launched on Oct. 20, the game aims to advertise the fact that the company have their finger in many pies and these industries are represented by the different resources players supply to friends. Its fresh futuristic look is uncluttered by excessive amounts of overly technical information, but allows interested users to easily go deeper and discover more about the company. Unfortunately game play, though simple, is not really that engaging and we found ourselves bored after a couple of tries.

Which brings us to Honda’s new Insight Battle Janken Survival. Combining the simple game of janken (rock, scissors, paper) with impressive looking graphics, players are pitted against other Facebook users for real-time matches. We really loved that though it looked really sleek, it didn’t take ages to download, and we liked the way the game transformed us into a cool character utilizing our Facebook profile photo. The more you win, the higher your ranking, and the highest ranking player gets to win a Honda Insight Exclusive car. Even if you get bored of playing janken, the carrot of a free car alone is enough to get players totally hooked.

Trends in Japan 2010: Twitter

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Twas the year of Twitter in Japan

Twas the year of Twitter in Japan

While gloomy year-end political and economic round-ups are suggesting that happiness was not abundant in Japan this year, there’s no denying that 2010 turned out pretty good for a certain little blue bird in Japan. Twitter soared in Japan this year, attracting some 1o million users and spawning dozens of new words and ways to use the microblogging service. “Japan is the fastest-growing country in the world,” said Twitter CEO Evan Williams when visiting Tokyo this summer for a Tweetup. And it’s about more than being the country that holds the record for most tweets per second.

English, please

Japanese became the second most-used language on Twitter after English. Japanese Twitter users flocked to books and magazines that promised to show them how to learn colloquial English by following native speakers and practicing the language 140 characters at a time. People appended hashtags like #engtweet and #eigodewa to messages to show that they were practicing their English and to find like-minded students looking for microlessons.

Say what?

Twitter brought new words and compounds into the Japanese language, mostly thanking people for doing the things people do on Twitter: foro-ari (thanks for following), oha-ari (thanks for saying good morning), and otsu-ari (for saying “otsukaresama,” a catch-all commendation for a job well done). Could ari-ari, thanking people for saying thank you, be far behind? One neologism that made the big leap from online niches to mainstream usage in 2010 was nau (なう), which means “now” and is used in tweets to  emphasize what one is doing . . . now. The word is popping up on advertising and posters all over Japan, nau.

Look who’s tweeting

Everyone seemed to be getting in on the Twitter act. From politicians such as ex-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (who has Japanese and English accounts) to chatty business tycoons like Masayoshi Son, no one seemed to be too important to dash off the occasional tweet, either formal or friendly. It became a way for them to keep in touch with the masses directly. Hundreds of people who didn’t tweet themselves, whether  because they were too busy or not interested (or long dead), had automated Twitter “bots” tapping out pre-coded versions of their famous quotes and catch-phrases.

More tweeters, more discounts

As the number of people on Twitter grew, so did their collective buying power. People swarmed to flash-marketing sites that offer huge price cuts on specific items or services for limited time periods. Homegrown Groupon clones like Q:Pod and Pom Parade made a strong showing with deeply discounted deals on everything from fancy dinners to spa packages.

Let’s play a game
Marketers got innovative with games and “Twitter toys” that explored new social opportunities for interactive marketing. Espresso Blux’s Twitter samurai drama took a storyline that started on TV commercials and subway posters and was continued with a complex and tongue-in-cheek Twitter campaign online. Uniqlo rolled out one interactive Twitter multimedia mash-up after another, and even convinced thousands of people to queue in a virtual “Lucky Line.”

Year of the rabbit, year of the bluebird?

As all signs for 2011 point to the smartphone market continuing to grow in Japan, it remains to be seen what new directions mobile social media will take. Why not keep the Twitter trend going into the new year by tweeting this story nau?

Japan by the numbers (06.04.10)

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Japan by the numbers (03.05.10)

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Twitter swoops into the Japanese market again

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Have iPhone, will Tweet

Have iPhone, will Tweet

As the tools of Social Networking envelop the globe, Japan’s market remains an elusive jewel that every major player wants in their crown. However, not even the mighty Facebook has been able to usurp local favorite, Mixi and its growing audience. Twitter threw its hat into the ring last year,  but the wildfire growth seen around the globe didn’t catch on here (it’s worth noting that some of the most influential and most followed Twitter users in Japan still hail from other countries). But at a  PR event in Tokyo last Thursday, Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, announced a new strategy: Japan-only mobile site design exclusively for local cell-phone carriers.

Will Japanese users embrace it?

Continue reading about Twitter in Japan →

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