Twitter boasts a huge popularity in Japan

In Japan, where other imported international social networks didn’t really catch on, Twitter is becoming a great hit. Japanese language was incorporated into Twitter in 2008 and mainly younger people with higher sense of individuality than it is traditional for the Japanese have started using it, analysts say.

A mobile version of Twitter that was launched last October further stimulated the growth in number of people using Twitter as cellphones with Internet connection have been the standard in Japan for years.

The Twitter expansion is so intensive that there are even seminars teaching the tricks of tweeting in Japan. A TV show features characters that tweets, and many celebrities, idols, and even the former PM of Japan are tweeting on a regular basis.

16,3 percent of Japanese users of the Internet use Twitter and that number greatly surpasses the ratio among American Internet population where it is only 9,8 percent. In contrast, only 3 percent of Japanese Internet users are on Facebook, whereas it’s 62 percent in the States. MySpace didn’t catch on, either, with less than 3 percent ratio in Japan, according to comScore Inc. Defeating mixi, Twitter has become the most popular social network in Japan.

Japanese Twitter mascot, Twit-tan (ついったん)

Twitter estimates that Japanese write nearly 8 million tweets a day, or about 12 percent of the global total. Data from Tweet Sentiments, a web site that analyzes tweets, show Japanese are sometimes tweeting more frequently than Americans.

A major reason of Twitter’s popularity in Japan is the language. While it’s very difficult to write a bit profound message in English on Twitter due to the 140-character limit, Japanese writing system enables people to write more information within 140 characters and even academics and politicians can post elaborate, complex opinions. For instance, the word “administration” eats up 14 characters of your message in English, but only 2 in Japanese as the translation of this word, “kanri”, is a 2-kanji long word (管理).

Twitter is also proving a good business tool. Companies are exploring Twitter as a way to reach consumers and get feedback, a function that holds potential in Japan where broadband connections are widespread and cheap, and mobile phones outnumber the population. Retailer Tokyu Hands uses Twitter to answer queries from customers, while clothing-chain Uniqlo has used Twitter in marketing by setting up a virtual queue where people tweet with each other and get freebies.

Motohiko Tokuriki, the chief executive of consultant Agile Media Network, who has nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter, believes Twitter is on its way to be chosen the hit new word of the year, a coveted honor that draws great publicity in Japan.

Source: Yahoo! News