The Covid-19 pandemic has been altering our behavior, particularly online. In Japan businesses, work-from-home (WFH) was rapidly expanding, and physical event such as exhibition and conference/seminar has been drastically decreasing, while webinars have rapidly increased.
Media-sponsored exhibitions and conference events continue to be held online.
Social media users, who were once mainly young people, have now spread to a wide range of age groups, and social media use has become the standard for many generations in the world.
According to the 2023 Digital Report by We are Social(1), the number of active social media users in Japan decreased by 9.8% over the previous year to 92.0 million. The percentage for the total population was 74.4%. The Covid-19 epidemic led to an increase in active social media users, but the number of active users in Japan declined in 2022. This is likely due to diminishing fears about Covid 19, the normalization of economic activity, and the resumption of cross-border travel. In fact, Internet usage time has declined by 15.4%.
It's worth noting that total spending on internet advertising media expenditures rose 15.0% year on year to 2,480 billion yen. Demand for video ads, particularly in-stream ads, has continued to rise since 2021, and growth in digital promotions contributed to market expansion according to Dentsu(2).
The growth of the publishing-based web media and magazine branded content business is also noteworthy.
How will the digital and social media landscape in Japan change by 2023?
In this article, we will discuss Japan’s top Social Media platforms for 2022 and how the country’s rapid transformation towards digital is still deeply changing both Japanese people’s and business scenarios.
As Japan's real GDP grew 1.0% in 2022(3), the second consecutive year of positive growth, and the economy slowly normalizes, we would like to explore the ways in which social media can be utilized.
It is well known that Japan is facing a rapidly aging population: Japan’s population is shrinking at a rate of -0.49% y/y which Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported in March 2023(4). In our country the median age is currently 49.0 years and projected to increase.
Covid-19 has certainly impacted the digital landscape in Japan.
According to a report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (April 2022), the number of Internet users in Japan was 82.9%, a 0.5% decrease from the previous year. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 20.2% of companies introduced work-from-home (WFH), but the number reached 51.9% in the latest report. In the information and telecommunications industry, 97.7% of companies have introduced work-from-home.
On the other hand, more than 90% of the respondents chose "to cope with the new Covid-19 infection" as the purpose of introducing work-from-home. It will be interesting to see how this will change when economic activities normalize.
In general, Japanese people spend around 3 hours 45 minutes (15.4% YoY) using the internet(1); it was about the same amount of time as the previous year.
Regarding social media behavior, Japan ranks lower compared to the global average. For instance, the average amount of time spent on social media per day is just 51 minutes (YoY ±0%), far less than the global average of 2 hours 31 minutes.(1)
On the other hand, the percentage of social media users (AGE 18+) to the population is 82.7%, higher than the global average of 77.8%. This may be largely due to the contribution of LINE, a personal message app that has emerged to replace e-mail.
LINE has become popular among a wide range of generations as a message app and currently has 92 million (74.4%) of active users.(1)
In our previous post about Social Media platform in 2022, we listed the most-used social media channels. Has the situation changed in 2023?
As you can see from the graph above, as in the 2023 report, the most-used social media platform in Japan is LINE, with 82.5% of Internet users aged 16 to 64 are using it. It is followed by Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. (This time, YouTube was excluded from the scope.)(1)
Although LinkedIn usage has decreased slightly (2.2%, -0.6% YoY), LinkedIn has announced that it exceeded 3 million users in Japan in August 2022(6). Regarding businesses, Facebook is still the preferred social media platform for B2B purposes.
In Japan, Facebook advertising can be reach 15.05 million users (-3.2% YoY), which accounts for around 13.5% (-0.3% YoY) of the total population aged +13.(1)
In terms of engagement, Japanese people are generally less engaged with posts on social media, with Facebook Page post engagement (reactions, comments, and shares) as a percentage of Page fans averaging only 0.12%.(1)
Despite this, Facebook remains one of the most commonly used social media platforms for businesses in Japan. It is an effective tool for networking with potential partners or clients, as well as to communicate with your brand fans.
However, it is important to note that social media use for work among those aged 16 to 64 is very low in Japan, at 9.6%, compared to a global average of 36.6%; By comparison, the United States, where multiple social media platforms were born, has a rate of 28.4%, South Korea 16.8%, and emerging countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, and India have much higher rates, with rate of 50.2%, 49.1%, and India 46.5%.(1)
Contrary to overseas, LinkedIn is not a widely used social media platform for business in Japan.
In August 2022, LinkedIn announced that it had over 3 million registered members (users) in Japan(5).
Although the release states that LinkedIn is used by over 900 million people in more than 200 countries and regions worldwide(6), the number of users in Japan may seem small compared to other countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. In fact, Twitter has about 67.45 million users in Japan(1), making LinkedIn relatively underutilized. Nonetheless, the number of users is steadily increasing thanks to the success of LinkedIn Japan.
In Japan, when it comes to using social media for business networking, most people in Japan use Facebook or Twitter instead of LinkedIn. Additionally, few people use both Facebook and LinkedIn. (My personal impression is that the utilization among people working for Western companies operating in Japan is progressing.)
Japan is Twitter’s third-largest market globally, behind Singapore and Hong Kong.
Twitter has a potential advertising reach of 67.45 million, which is about 54.6% of total population (60.5% of total population aged +13)(1) and is used for both private and business purposes. Twitter is the second most dominant social media platform in Japan, after LINE.
Last year must have been tumultuous for Twitter, but we believe it had no impact on the MAU.
According to the 2020 report by Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication, Twitter usage was higher among younger people, and usage declines as age increases. For example, Twitter usage was 67.4% among people in their 10s and 78.6% in 20s, and 57.9% in 30s, 44.8% in 40s(4). This may not be good news for B2B companies that were considering advertising on this social media platform.
One important ad-related release that we shouldn’t miss is the launch of their new service, Twitter Search Keywords Ads(7).
Currently offered in beta version. They explain this service: Keyword targeting allows you to reach people on Twitter based on keywords in their search queries, recent Tweets, and Tweets they recently engaged with. This targeting option puts you in the best position to reach the most relevant people, drive engagements, and increase conversions. Advertisers allow to insert Promoted Tweets solely among specific search results, which can help reach people with high real-time intent & improving ad relevance. As the company states in the tweet, the new Search Keywords Ads objective is designed to drive conversions to advertiser websites.
With over 1.32 billion of active users worldwide, Instagram is the 3rd-most used app and 2nd-most favorite social media platform in the world(1).
In Japan, it is said that young people “turning away from Instagram”. They see it as an old social media platform that their parents and grandparents use, and now they consider TikTok cooler. However, an annual survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shows that the number of Instagram users in their teens and 20s is increasing from 2020 to 2021, and that there are more users than on TikTok.
According to a survey conducted by Allied Architects in 2020(8), Instagram was ranked as the top tool used to "gather information about hobbies and favorite things" (29%), followed by checking the news (19%). 67.4% of users have followed some company accounts, and 41.5% of all users have purchased some products because of a company account or post.
However, B2B companies are not making much progress in using Instagram. It is often used for corporate branding and recruiting. Some companies disseminate industry knowledge, such as videos that teach about the IT services they offer or explain technical terms.
Are you also concerned about the existence of TikTok?
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, although many younger generations are using TikTok (teens: 62.4%, 20s: 46.5%), it has not penetrated the business class users (30s: 23.5%, 40s: 18.8%, 50s: 15.2%)(4).
B2B businesses may not need to consider using TikTok at this time, but we have seen cases where TikTok is used to build good relationships when providing B2C services to the younger generation.
Instagram has potential for B2B use, so if your company's target and user base match, why not operate it as one of your communication tools?.
YouTube is one of the most used Social Media channels in Japan.
The potential reach of advertising is 78.4 million, covering 70.7% of the population aged 18+(1). With a wide range of content genres, the service is characterized by high usage rates among people of all generations, as it is free and easily accessible.
Many businesspersons may have made it a habit to watch online videos to obtain business information when events and trade shows were canceled or postponed or when working-from-home. In 2023, it is sure to be an indispensable tool in marketing strategy.
B2B advertising using YouTube is also gradually increasing in Japan, and it is important to note that YouTube's audience is quite uniform in Japan, allowing business to reach almost any age group with their campaign.
Another important point to consider is that YouTube is full of potential and is an interesting social media platform that is worth considering and evacuating for your digital marketing strategy in Japan.
You may not have heard of LINE before. It is more of a messenger app than a social media platform, but it is worth a mention here.
Develop in Japan, LINE boats over 94.0 million MAU, which is more than 74.4% of Japan’s total population(1). It is the most popular mobile app in terms of MAU and time spent on the app. It is also the 2nd most downloaded social networking app from the AppStore in Japan, after whoo – a location sharing app that lets you know where your friends are.
LINE’s vision is to become a “life infrastructure” for users by providing a wide range of features, starting from the messenger app. It includes a social media feature (Timeline, similar to Facebook’s feed), news section, a cashless pay feature, game feature and more.
In addition, LINE provides Official Accounts for companies to contact users though messages and send them coupons, campaign notification, or even loyalty cards.
Moreover, companies with an Official Account can advertise on LINE. This freemium service can work quite well with B2C industries, especially those related to food, fashion, beauty, delivery, etc. Hoewver, we do not suggest B2B brands invest for advertising campaigns here; at least for now.
LINE is certainly expanding its business base.
In 2019, LINE, which had been a consolidated subsidiary of NEVER Corporation, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Z Holdings (ZHD), which also has Yahoo Japan. They have been promoting the expansion of synergies through business integration with ZHD as the parent company and LINE and Yahoo as the core wholly-owned subsidiaries.
In February 2023, Z Holdings, LINE, and Yahoo Japan announced their merger by the end of next fiscal year to strengthen service collaboration and promote consolidation.
We are interested in seeing how their advertising business and corporate services grow.
Bigbeat Inc. has 28 years of experience in B2B marketing.
If your company is interested in developing a social media strategy, or advertising on social media in Japan, or if you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us here!
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1) We Are Social: SPECIAL REPORT - DIGITAL 2023
2) Dentsu: 2022 Advertising Expenditures in Japan
3) Cabinet Office, Government of Japan: Quarterly Estimates of GDP
4) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications:
- Population Estimates
- Overview of the Status Report on Information and Communications 2022
- Results of Telecommunication Usage Trend Survey 2021
- Survey on Information and Communication Media Usage Time and Information Behavior 2021
5) PR Times: LinkedIn Surpasses 3 Million Registered Members in Japan
6) LinkedIn: About LinkedIn
7) Twitter: Search Keywords Ads
8) Allied Architects: Survey of Consumer social media Usage
9) LINE Campus: Who are the users of LINE?