Posts Tagged ‘twitter bots’

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?

They’ve got a Twitter bot for that

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Twitter love is showing no signs of abating in Japan. It’s not just real live people “muttering” their 140-character thoughts, though. As much as a quarter of traffic on the microblogging site is thought to come from automated accounts, or “bots.” Japanese Twitter bots are slightly different than English-language bots. While many of the most popular bots in English do something – remind you of your to-do list, say, or help you calculate a tip – a large portion of the most popular bots in Japan spout quotes from celebrities and anime programs.

Welcome your new bot friends

Meet your new bot friends

And while Japanese engineers are working hard to create real-world robots that will fool us into thinking they’re real, some of the artificial intelligence bots on Twitter have already succeeded. Last year, a Japanese blogger wrote about being surprised to discover that some of his Twitter friends were actually bots. There are scads of AI bots like Robot Secretary. Included in this group of advanced bots is the popular Shuumai, which “learns” speech by reading what people write and then tries to regurgitate it appropriately.

Who’s who

According to a Goo ranking, the celebrity bot that people most want to follow is Matsuko Deluxe. There are at least three bots tweeting quotes by the zaftig cross-dressing TV personality and columnist, with a total of over 100,000 followers.  The quotes are a bit barbed, whether they’re directed at other TV personalities (“The women on Nippon TV are mostly no good“), at him/herself (“I don’t even know if I’m funny“; “I think I should try a little harder“) or at no one in particular (“Basically, I don’t like you.”)

Two ranks down and a world away is Becky, a singer/comedian/actress who at one point  in her career had officially (er, that’s “officially”) changed her name to include emoticons. Her smiling headshot, backed with Brady Bunch blue, replies to keywords, like “good night,” with upbeat messages peppered with music notes and stars. The person responsible for this bot is also the brains behind behind one that impersonates Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son.

Also in the top 10 are the famous words of Beat Takeshi (“I want skill more than money, sensibility more than power.”) and the Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki (“What motivates me is that I like baseball.”)

The Peter Drucker bot translates the American management expert’s wisdom into Japanese tweets. A novel about a high school girls’ baseball team studying his techniques made him a buzzword in Japan this year, perhaps an unexpected posthumous honor.

Continue reading about Twitter bots in Japan →

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