Japanese 15 year olds, HBR study and the future of SNS in Japan

I was doing research about a completely different topic and ran into a UNICEF report which shocked me. So just wanted to write this very quickly…


People always ask me how much fb can grow in Japan and I always answer 20% MAX (the best case scenario). Just travel back to 2006 when MIXI was super hot, super cool (:)), all celebrities were endorsing mixi, and the bookstores did not have enough shelves to display mixi books. Back then almost 95% of 18-49 year olds had access to MIXI, but only 20% of them chose to use it. The reality is, Japanese in general do not develop or maintain relationships like people in the rest of the world…

Take this HBR article published last year: it states that Asia has the highest online social network adoption rates and Japan on the other hand is the least socialized country with the smallest network size: 25 people.

Here’s the UNICEF report. It says that almost 30% of Japanese 15 year olds say that they feel lonely, what is more, this number is 300% higher than any other developed country in the world. We know when it comes to self reported measures Japan is different but this number tells us something

When we did a focus group with Japanese housewives, they mentioned that they do not think they needed a social network tool to connect with their friends or share a funny website with their high schoolmates. My point is, people in this country are just do not feel like they should definitely be on some digital social network. (or in some case Japanese feel very uncomfortable being  exposed to their network members, yes their network members not strangers)

As I started my post with the future of SNS let me finish with it. It depends on how much LinkedIn will try and WHEN Mixi will start brand pages.
#1 Twitter is already the biggest social media tool in Japan. WHY? It is not the numbers game… almost 100% of effective people in Japan is on Twitter. Who cares if truck drivers use Gree & Mobage, college students use mixi, introverts use 2channel and internet marketers & English speakers use fb.
#2 Almost 60% of FB users are business oriented MALES and strangely some people in this country see it as a career network. When Linkedin changes its interface to Japanese, it is surely destined to explode in Japan which will take away some core FB users.
#3 Internet marketers in Japan are pushing too hard to promote FB and it is mostly because fb creates many opportunities for companies to do online marketing and social commerce. When Mixi starts brand pages (some people say this is not possible because mixi does not have a real name policy, I remind those people that twitter does not have a real name policy either and they suddenly go quiet) it can leverage its user base and once again can get its mojo back…
#4 Location based services are not likely to pick up in Japan because a) Japan is the most risk avoiding country in the world b) this is a culture of modesty . When someone indicates his/her location it caries the risk of being stalked or physically/verbally harrassed by others. Additionally indicating a location might be perceived as showing off or bothering others with irrelevant information (unlike other cultures). Foursquares lackluster performance in Japan during the last 12 months is not a surprise http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=foursquare&geo=JP&date=1%2F2010%2017m&cmpt=q

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