Japanese Influencer Marketing Guide: How to reach them and what is the best social media for your brand?
Japan has seen a huge increase of social media influencers over the past three years and Covid-19 has only accelerated the swing in marketing spend from TV mass advertising and pop ups to social media and social ads. A survey by Agile Media Network found that Japanese companies have boosted their social media marketing activities by 57% since the outbreak began, and this means influencer marketing in Japan is set to be bigger than ever in 2021.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 7 questions to help you understand how to leverage influencer marketing for maximum impact in Japan, and what you need to know when creating your first campaign.
Q1: What are the most popular social media platforms in Japan?
The Japanese social media landscape is completely different to that seen in Western countries. Looking at this graph your first question might be “What is LINE?” since it is often unknown outside Asia.
LINE is not a typical social media platform but rather a messaging service like Whatsapp with additional payment and news features. This means that time spent on the app is limited, and due to this the majority of brands use other social media platforms for their marketing.
Why is Instagram gaining popularity?
As with users aged over 30, Instagram has gone from strength to strength with the addition of stories, reels, and polls, which are all extensively used in Japan. It’s no wonder that many Japanese brands are continuing to turn to Instagram influencers for their marketing campaigns: the compelling nature of Instagram’s new features make it ideal for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food, drink, and travel brands looking to increase engagement with their audiences.
Why is Twitter so popular in Japan?
Twitter remains popular for all ages in Japan. A key reason that may not be overly obvious is that it allows users to anonymously tweet their thoughts on private, social or political issues under nicknames and hidden identities. In a country where the norm is to keep your personal opinions to yourself to avoid conflict or criticism, this function allows users to express themselves in a way that doesn’t affect their work or school lives.
What content do Japanese people watch on Youtube?
Japan has a global reputation for the weird and wacky and a quick glance through a list of the top Japanese influencers on Youtube only seems to confirm this. Their videos can be roughly split into two main categories — comedy focused ones like the content of top Japanese Youtuber Hajime and food challenges such as the incredible videos of Japan’s number 1 female Youtuber Yuka Kinoshita.
How popular is Tik Tok in Japan?
Tik Tok currently comes last out of the top 5 social sites among the younger demographic aged between ten and thirty. This may come as a surprise, however given Facebook’s downward trend with younger generations in Japan, Tik Tok is more than likely to overtake Facebook during 2021.
Q2: How effective is influencer marketing in Japan?
According to Japanese marketing research firm Digital Infact, the influencer market in Japan exceeded $200 million dollars in 2018 and is predicted to surpass $500 million dollars by 2023. As influencer marketing is becoming the most effective way to promote your brand in Japan, it’s crucial to know which social media platform to use for your campaign. The following graph from CyberAgent shows what social channels Japanese companies have been utilising for their influencer marketing, with Instagram or “Insta” as it’s called in Japan taking first place.
Q3: Who are the top Japanese influencers?
For success in any market, you’ll need to choose the right influencers to connect and engage with your target audience. The same advice applies for Japanese influencers who cater for different demographics and niches on each platform. However, you may find these media platforms aren’t used quite in the way you would expect, so it’s worth taking the time to get acquainted with the top influencers and what brands they promote to see which influencers and platforms would be most suitable for your Japan campaign.
To make your life easier, we’ve compiled our top 5 influencer lists for Instagram and Youtube, and you can see the complete lists by clicking on the links below.
Top 5 Japanese Instagram Influencers (Number of followers)
- Naomi Watanabe (9.4 million)
- Rola (5.7 million)
- Kiko Mizuhara (5.4 million)
- Tomohisa Yamashita (4.2 million)
- Nozomi Sasaki (3.9 million)
Top 20 Japanese Influencers on Instagram for 2020
Instagram is becoming more popular every year in Japan, in October 19th last year this number was estimated to be 27…
Top 5 Japanese Youtube Influencers (Number of subscribers)
- Hajime (8.3 million)
- Hikakin TV (7.9 million)
- Fischer’s (5.9 million)
- Yuka Kinoshita (5.4 million)
- Tokai On Air (4.9 million)
Top 10 Japanese YouTubers
Youtube recently revealed that there are 63 million YouTube users in Japan. Youtube is a great platform if you want to…
Q4: What are the challenges of Japanese influencer marketing?
There are two main barriers to influencer marketing in Japan: the first is the language barrier and the second is that almost all established influencers are managed by Japanese talent agencies.
The language barrier means that captions and hashtags used by influencers will be in Japanese with an occasional English word or phrase added for style. Searching for an influencer who can truly represent your brand authentically is no easy task, and without Japanese speaking ability it is more than likely that nuances will be lost in translation during briefings. Japanese talent agencies are also rather strict gatekeepers who may refuse to work with newer companies with no prior connections to Japan.
Q5: How are Japanese influencers different to Western influencers?
We’ll briefly go over some key differences so you can understand how to pivot your campaigns for Japan. First, despite the growth of Japanese influencers in the last year, there are still far fewer Japanese influencers compared to China for example. Japanese influencers are also known for being particularly selective when choosing which brands to work with.
One more unique characteristic of Japanese influencers is their sensitivity to their audiences and careful approach to avoid negative comments. Famous singer Ayumi Hamazaki received what many in the West would consider unfair criticism last spring after enjoying a fun moment sitting in a shopping cart. For traditional Japanese society, such behaviour was still considered improper conduct for a 40 year old woman.
Although these qualities mean it can take longer to set up your Japan campaign, once you do, you’ll be rewarded with the second highest engagement rate in the world (4.93%), and an audience who almost devotedly trust the influencers they follow.
Q6: How has Covid-19 affected brand and influencer communication in Japan?
The impact of Covid-19 was felt across all industries, and brand marketing strategies and communications had to be quickly adapted to face the crisis.
One early example was from arts and crafts shop Yuzawaya who shared a Youtube video on how to make your own face mask at home on Twitter. This was promptly picked up by the national newspaper Yomuri Shimbun who ran an explainer based on the Yuzawaya post in their evening print edition which goes to show just how powerful a social media post can be.
Many brands opted to engage in relevant community hashtags while encouraging everyone to stay home. Morinaga Milk, a leading producer and seller of dairy products in Japan created a campaign with Mio Imai, who is famous for being a university student, weather reporter and model. She promoted their chocolate-coated ice cream “Parm” on her Instagram account in a casual living room post using the hashtags #nightparm #stayhome.
Meanwhile one of the most influential people in Japan, Naomi Watanabe live-streamed a 2 hour video on Youtube that has since clocked up more than 2 million views. She not only urged everyone to say home but also made sure her followers didn’t feel alone by sharing shots of her dinner and then interacting with them, which brought some positive energy to her fans during a tough time.
Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, Japanese brands and influencers successfully worked together to come up with appropriate and creative content that delivered meaningful and reassuring messages to users.
Q7: How much do Japanese influencers charge per post?
This is a common question but the answer depends on a variety of factors based on your marketing goals, industry, and the platform you are targeting. As Japanese influencers are fewer in number than influencers in other countries, there are also fewer to select from, and as a result you can expect that they will charge more. Naturally, the cost of using micro-influencers will be less than those in the top ten ranking, but remember that cost is only half the story.
You may recall from earlier that Japanese influencers and agencies are wary of taking on new campaigns from foreign companies that are relatively unknown in Japan. This means without an approach from an agency with Japanese connections and native speakers, you may lose access to the influencers most suitable for your brand.
The best solution to overcome this problem and ensure an effective campaign is to work with an English speaking influencer marketing agency who understands Japanese culture, has built up a strong reputation in the industry, and who has case studies to show you their value in terms of clear ROI.
If you’re looking to start planning out your influencer marketing campaign in Japan, Japan Buzz can help you choose and partner with the right Japanese influencers and micro influencers to promote your brand. We’ll also help you build a strategy to create the most engagement based on our many years of experience exclusively focused on the Japanese market.
Ready for some advice? Need more help getting your brand more awareness and engagement in Japan? Please let us know. You can see more and contact us on https://www.japanbuzz.info/.