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Japanese social media trends for 2017

In Japan, many people use social network services, regardless of whether it’s in private or for business across smartphones and laptops. The Japanese government expects that the number of people using social networks will be about 75 million in 2018. This number is the half of population in Japan. This number keeps increasing every year.

Graph above: The number of user about social network service in Japan

The spread of users

There are four major player social network services in Japan, these are LINE, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Also Youtube has become very popular though not technically an SNS it can’t be ignired. The total amount of monthly active users is around 142 million. This number is over that of the Japanese population. LINE’s monthly user count  is 64 million people, so it’s no exaggeration to say it is now part of the Japanese infrastructure. The main users were once the young, but this demographic has already changed. Recently 18% of user are over fifty, the app is now used by a wide range of age groups. Twitter’s main users are in their twenties and Facebook is popular among 25 to 34 years.  Instagram is mainly used young females.




PopulationSNS user
64 million26 million40    million12  million128 million142 million

Graph above: SNS user of detail


The trend of SNS in 2016 was to improve the video experience. LINE Live was started in Dec 2015, Twitter and Facebook followed suit in 2016. Furthermore Instagram has added live stream broadcasting. Each company tried to improve their video possibilities, so we can expect it to evolve more this year.



Since launch LINE was mainly used to communicate one to one (instead of email), however the function of the Timeline improved a lot in 2016. They all added many other functions, such advertising on the timeline, hashtags and posts that disappear after 24 hours. This LINE trend is going stay for 2017 and we’ll see it being used a lot more as a platform for advertising.

Many companies concentrated on marketing and advertising on LINE in 2016. The stamp is a great example. User download company stamps and use for their enjoyment. Recently, a lot of companies collaborate with famous cartoon or characters.





Facebook is considered more formal than other social networks in Japan, this is because users have to register their true name. People also tend to be careful about when they post. In Japan Facebook is sometimes similar to a CV or like Linkedin. In 2015 personal posts decreased by about 21 % compared with the same number last year. For this reason Facebook is trying to improve content such as making it easy for a user to make a slideshow or video automatically. It announced a new core value, which prioritises family and friend’s posts.



In Japan, Twitter is used by a lot of people even when compared to other countries. The main reason is that Twitter was very useful during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

In 2016, Twitter changed their restriction to allow certain posts to be over 140 words. They also changed their methods of advertising tying some ‘out of the box’ thinking such as:

  1. Instant unlock cards: Users who retweet are sent special content.
  2. First view: When users log into Twitter, they are shown a promotional movie on their timeline.
  3. Promo sticker: Branding stickers like a LINE stamp that appear over photos



Graph above: The ratio of SNS user from Dec, 2015 to Nov, 2016

Instagram greatly increased their user base from Mar, 2016 to Dec, 2016. The reason for this s that the main function of Instagram is posting pictures, so it is not complex to use. Users do not have to write long sentence or phrase. This style might suit Japanese people.

There were many big changes in 2016, such as the introduction of “Stories” and “Live”. Stories where posts disappears within 24 hours, become popular and are used globally by one hundred million people each day. Secondly the Live broadcasting function, is fairly popular as well. Instagram will concentrate in 2017 on improving the discovery of videos and make it easier for users to post updates.



YouTube has been popular since the early 2000s in Japan. However recently it became to be popular, not only for viewing but personal broadcasting. Recently being a YouTuber was an occupation ranked highly on a list of dream jobs for Japanese people. YouTubers can earn over £70K a year and the number of young people joing the platform are increasing.  On YouTube everyone has an opportunity to be famous. It’s easy to state our opinions and express ourselves on YouTube. The Japanese top YouTuber has over 4 million subscribers.  


Some other apps to watch out for.

Pairy (

An app for couplest to help them share pictures, meeting plans and chat.

Wellnote (

Sharing among Families with pictures, movies and a diary

Polaroid Swing

A one second movie app from Polaroid. The application shoots motion for 1 second, it’s easy to post and share on Facebook, Twitter etc. It’s similar to “LivePhoto” on the iPhone.



A social networking (SNS) service that allows you to share your secrets anonymously.




【2017年予測】国内四大SNS利用率&トピックスまとめ。そこから見えてきたトレンドとは? 〔Accessed 6, Feb, 2017〕

日本のSNSの変遷から観る2017年流行る新しいSNS3選! (Accessed 16, Feb, 2017)

Murthy. D (2012) Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age (DMS – Digital Media and Society)


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