2009/12/14

Twitter in Japan

Twitter is quickly increasing its presence in Japan nowadays.

**Facts**

According to Nielson Online/NetRatings, Twitter users within Japan surpassed 2million. UU which was 520 thousand as of April increased to 1.26 million in July, 2.57 million in September, dropped to 2.07 million in October. PV was 6.64 million in April, 29.52 million in July, 63.82 million in October according to an article [ja]on IT Media.

Twitter's UU and PV in Japan (orange=1000 users, blue=1000 PV)
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Celebrities such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yoko Ono, Kohmi Hirose [ja], Kazuyo Katsuma [ja] , etc started using Twitter.

Nikkei MJ (newspaper) announced [ja] its hit product ranking of 2009 and the winners were eco-car and cheap jeans, and Twitter won one of the awards (komusubi award).

DIME (magazine) announced [ja] its hit product ranking as well, and the winner was again 990yen jeans (10 dollar jeans), and Twitter won one of the entertainment awards.

FYI, some other award winning products from DIME is as follows:
■Business and Technology division
『LED light bulb DL-L601L』(Sharp)
『CELL REGZA TV 55X1』(Toshiba)
『Prius』(Toyota)
『Windows 7』(Microsoft)

■Entertainment division
『OLYMPUS PEN E-P1』(Olympus)
『Highball』boom(Suntory)
『Dragon Quest IX Protectors of the Starry Sky』(Square Enix)
『Twitter』(Twitter Inc)

**Media coverage**

Twitter was covered in various national TVs recently including Fuji TV.

Various books on Twitter are sold in the bookstores.

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Photo via Kawai's Tumblr

I am the co-author of one of those books - Twitter Marketing :)


**Twitter Conference**


On 12/5, a full day event called Twitter Conference (Twitter研究会) was held in Keio University SFC campus.

Presenters from various fields presented at the conference from 10AM to 6PM, ranging from instructions on Twitter APIs, Twitter bots and Twitter bot competition, examples of how universities and university students are using Twitter, etc.

Update 12/20:
As you know, Japan is a mobile society, and at Twitter Conference @fshin2000, creator of the most popular Twitter mobile web client "Movatwitter [ja]" announced that it is reaching 100 million pageview per month, and he is going to quit his company to focus on further development of Movatwitter. Movatwitter won Best Mobile Based Twitter App award at Mashable's Open Web Awards .

You can see the whole time table and the presentation slides here [ja] and the uStream archive here [ja] and archive of the tweets using #twitterconf here [ja] (although everything is in Japanese)

The audience in the venue as well as those watching the streaming was twittering so hard that we (#twitterconf) were ranked 5th place of the Trending topics of Twitter (although the scerenshot was taken a bit before that :P )

twitterconf

I was one of the speakers - I talked about Twitter outside Japan. I was also on the panel discussion talking about present and future of Twitter in Japan.




I talked a bit about Twitter and SXSW. SXSW2007 was where all the buzz started- everyone was tweeting about the sessions, parties, where to meet, interviews, etc and Twitter can be seen on the screens in the venue everywhere. A stranger came up to me when I was waiting to enter one of the parties and said "Will you let me in your umbrella? I need to Tweet!" You probably remember what happened at the keynote speech of SXSW 2008 where we all realized the power of the twittering voices of the audience. In SXSW2009, people were using Twitter too much that CNet wrote an article stating that SXSW attendees were confronting Twitter saturation.

I also spoke about how Twitter can serve for different areas / people / entities / circumstances. For example, in places like Tokyo and SF where there are lots of Twitter users, if you say you want to hold a Tweetup you'll get lots of attendees right away, but if you tweet you are "in Tokyo" such tweet will probably be ignored. On the other hand, in places like Cusco which barely has Twitter users, if you tweet you are in Cusco, then someone might call out to hold a Tweetup. Many of the politicians, celebrities and media use Twitter but at the same time, many ordinary citizens use Twiter too. Large companies can utilize Twitter for branding, PR, sales etc whereas small shops can use Twitter to make announcements to the locals.

Another topic I mentioned was how Twitter is used to convey information in emergency and to spread political messages. In China, Twitter (as well as other social media) helped to let the world know about the earthquake which helped to accelerate the donations to reach them faster. In Munbai (India), the news on the terrorist attack spread quickly via Twitter. In Moldova and Iran, the citizens are using Twitter to let the world know about their message and what is going on.

In Japan, some politicians started to use Twitter and LDP's PR dept announced [ja] that all of the LDP politicians should use Twitter, but compared to US which has more than 140 politicians who Tweet, the number is still very small. In the U.S., because there are so many politicians using Twitter, Obama administration could open such site as "Tweet you Senator" which enables the citizens to tweet to their senator just by entering their zipcode. I also expressed my expectations for the ministries and government agencies to start using Twitter- in the U.S., various agencies are using Twitter and other social media to communicate with the citizens directly.

**Competition**

There are various competitors for Twitter in Japan. The newest one is "Ameba Now [ja]" which just launched last week. The strength of Ameba is that they have existing user base (they are one of the largest blog ASP providers) and celebrities (they host many celebrity blogs and they asked those celebrities to start using Ameba Now). Mixi [ja]- the largest SNS in Japan launched Twitter cloan mixi voice, GREE [ja] - the second largest SNS in Japan did a site renewal this October and its top page looks exactly like Twitter now. Mobage-town [ja], the largest mobile gaming site launched its Twitter cloan service called Otakebi... and there's many more such as Timelog [ja], Wassr [ja], etc.

Update 12/27
Adding some more charts from Google Trends (I know it is not the best data- a bulk of Twitter's traffic comes from apps not the web, mixi and gree's traffic are mostly mobile which is not included in Google Trends' data) but as a comparison...:

Worldwide comparison of unique visitors for Facebook / MySpace / Twitter / mixi / gree is that Facebook is HUGE, MySpace is losing its users and others are all very small.

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In Japan, mixi is HUGE and the others are small.

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Some more breakdowns:

Twitter has twice as large unique visitor than mixi from the worldwide data- and this chart shows that mixi's Unique visitor was larger than Twitter a year ago. Lower section shows that Twitter's top usage is in U.S. and second is Japan, followed by Brasil, Indonesia and U.K.

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Same chart limited the region to Japan and we can see that the unique visitors of mixi far outweighs that of Twitter which is steadily growing.

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Twitter / Facebook / Myspace comparison with worldwide data. Facebook is huge, MySpace is quickly losing its visitors, Twitter still small but growing...

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Twitter / Facebook / Myspace comparison with data limited to U.S. The same tendency as above, but the impact of MySpace losing its users looks bigger- it had almost the same unique visitors as Facebook a year ago and quickly dropped during the course of a year.

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Twitter / Facebook / Myspace comparison with data limited to Japan. You can see the growth of Twitter which has twice as large unique visitors than Facebook.

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Facebook was said to be struggling in Japan localization (they launched the Japanese version in May) but above data shows it has doubled since a year ago. According to NetRatings (article on IT Media [ja]), their unique users as of November is 1.39 million which is 4 times larger than that of a year ago.

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