The Era of Social Media Marketing in Japan

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Media has taken various forms as new technologies and the way of communication, information exchange and business attraction keep emerging in the world. Among them, social media has demonstrated today that companies can reach out to many potential customers or leads worldwide in a matter of seconds. Therefore, it is important to understand how social media is used in digital marketing today. 

Understanding social media marketing  

Simply defined, social media marketing is a type of business marketing through one or more social media platforms. In some cases, it might lead to actually advertising products or services on social media. But for other businesses, it could mean generating traffic and creating brand awareness. 

Social media has a very strong influence on how businesses are being marketed these days. Even science has demonstrated this evidence. In fact, as discussed in a research paper  on the “Foundations of Social Media Marketing”, it is true that: “social media has revolutionized the power structures in the marketplace, becoming points of evidence to a major power migration taking place and to emergence of a new breed of powerful and sophisticated customer, difficult to influence, persuade and retain”. Moreover, social media gave customers more sophisticated tools and several options and helped them come up with new tactics so that they can search, evaluate, choose and buy goods and services they really want or need. This could be proof that new trends of customer behavior have roots in the use of social media nowadays;  and Japan is not an exception.

A look into social media marketing trends in Japan 

In Japan alone, most people possess a smartphone, and young adults or millennials in particular spend a considerable amount of time each day scrolling through different online pages, either to socialize with their connections or to look for something to buy, a place to go to, and so on. This situation has created a need for companies to shift the way they market products and services to their current clients and also target many more. 

Moreover, a guide on “Social Media in Japan 2020” published early this year by Plus Alpha Digital, recommended that: “Social media has become a major part of digital marketing in Japan and should definitely be included within the brand’s overall marketing strategy for the country.” The author added that: “As of 2020, nearly 100% of Japanese are online, smartphone penetration is around 80%, and over half of the population is using some form of social media in Japan.”  

There are many Social Media(SNS) or social networking services used in Japan, and here is the classification suggested by digital marketing platforms in Japan:  

Top 5 Social  Media Platforms in Japan in 2019


  • LINE :  90 million MAU
  • Twitter :  45 million monthly active users (MAU)
  • Instagram :  33 million MAU
  • Facebook : 28 million MAU
  • TikTok : 9.5 million MAU 

Surprisingly, Twitter is more popular than Facebook in Japan.

Apart from these 5, there are messaging apps and business networking platforms such as Snapchat & LinkedIn and SNS video/streaming platforms like YouTube, Nico Nico Douga, Abema. Except Linkedin which is not yet discovered by many young users, all these other platforms are massively popular and young Japanese people find delight in using them on a daily basis.  

Future perspectives 

In light of the above, while predicting Japan’s digital trends of the new decade (2020 onwards), The Japan Times reported last year that: “the  previous decade saw social media and internet culture in Japan go through major mutations en route to becoming a central part of daily life rather than a bizarre alternative world. Nowadays, traditional media and PR techniques are still relevant and influential when promoting products and services. However, social media marketing has been occupying a big place in the arena of digital marketing. 

In conclusion, private companies as well as government institutions are now more than ever making use of  social media to either promote their businesses or simply activities directly targeting the population. Therefore, with the constant increase in the number of social media users from all generations in Japan, the use of social media will still be playing a major role in shaping strategies marketing will be conceived in years to come.