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Do you Tweet?

The global attention surrounding Twitter has an unrelenting momentum. In April of this year, the number of Twitter subscribers reached 112.7 million worldwide. This is a three-fold increase year-on-year and the current pace of growth is showing no signs of slowing down. You might not know it but Twitter is also gaining popularity here in Japan.

Twitter was first launched in Japan in April of 2008. Two years on, it was estimated that there were 7 to 8 million users, and there is talk that the number of “Tweeters” will reach the ten million mark later this year. According to Tweet Sentiments, the share of Tweets originating from Japan accounts for about ten percent of total Tweets worldwide making Japan the second largest Twitter community in the world. Currently, Japan is generating over 5 million Tweets a day.

So, why has Twitter become so popular in Japan?

One theory is that the Japanese community is subject to an overwhelming group dynamic from early childhood. This community-focused mentality leads people to become strong trend followers. Lately, print, broadcast and digital media have all been espousing the benefits of Twitter assisting its growth.

Moreover, TV personalities and intellectuals are also becoming infatuated with Twitter, and there is a sense that Twitter has that contagious quality that resonates with the Japanese population. In an unbelievably short period, it has reached a point where some will say, “You don’t Tweet! Where have you been?” Beloved film directorTakeshi Kitano sarcastically commented on this mentality recently by saying, “It wouldn’t be so scary if everyone crossed the street at a red light,” highlighting the Japanese propensity to follow the leader.

This type of blind belief can have a potentially negative impact for contemporary Japan. Currently, many Japanese firms have created Twitter accounts and are using them to release news and information without any real direction or purpose. According to a NTT Resonant and Loops Communications survey almost one quarter of respondents said that they had no measurable index to evaluate the effectiveness of their Twitter accounts.

At a minimum, I feel that evaluating all the options, before adopting new trends is important to move in the right direction. How will you and your organization approach the Twitter boom?

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