As with all businesses, no matter how big or how small, social media is one of the strongest tools you can use for growing your business’s reach and driving sales in Japan. From self promoting to working with Japanese influencers it’s crucial that business owners make the most out of their social media presence to drive sales. To understand the key components of growing any brand here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose the right platform
The first and most important thing to consider is your business’s audience. Social media is a great outlet to increase sales, but you have to select the platform with the greatest potential for exposing your business to your target audience. You can’t just expect to create a random account and gain followers, you have to understand both your business and its goals. You should start by looking at your target demographic, for example if your audience is predominantly over the age 30 you may focus more of your time on Facebook. Or if your targeting more B2B relations, LinkedIn may be the perfect fit for your business.
Another key factor in choosing a platform is location. Not every country or even every city uses the same social media, Japan’s number one social media platform for example is Instagram and Twitter. One example of a company using only Instagram and Twitter in Japan is Kooriya Peace (Twitter: @kooriya_peace & Instagram: lovely.peace), a kakigori focused cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo. Since their target audience is young adults and young couples they focus all of their marketing efforts on those two platforms and avoid using Facebook, they actually don’t even have their own website either as they found it was easier to reach out to their audience through direct messaging. So if you are trying to expand your presence in Japan you would want to highly consider creating accounts there. Lastly think hashtags, using hashtags on Facebook relatively has no meaning, but hashtags on Instagram and Twitter could highly expand your reach to potential clients. The more your business is able to reach its target audience the higher the potential you have to drive sales.
(Twitter: @kooriya_peace kakigori focused cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo)
Establish A Strong Presence
Make sure whatever platform you decide on you have a strong bio, use this as a way to introduce your brand and what your company stands for. You can also use this as a stepping stone to establish the overall tone of your brand. For example the types of photos and how they are edited can play a huge role in a brands image. If you are selling high end fashion you probably wouldn’t be using filters or stamps on your images. The same goes for image captions and general posts, from vocabulary to creating the feeling of closeness, what you say plays a huge role in how your community will engage. The more tailored your content is and brand aware you are the more likely it will be for consumers to want to do business with you.
Engage with Your Audience
Once your presence is clear you should start to engage more with your audience. First thing to do here is to target potential consumers. Look for those who post similar content about brands like yours or who have worked with other companies in the past. For example, you probably wouldn’t reach out to a makeup influencer like Kumamiki (Youtube: くまみき/Kumamiki), if your business is in the industry of selling shoes. Once you find potential clients comment on a post or two, answer questions in their stories, retweet them, etc. and gradually establish a connection.
Tatsuto Shibata (Instagram: @_deepsky) is an example of someone who does quite well at engaging with his audience. He’s selective on who he answers in the comments, but is always certain to at least like their comment to show them that he’s read what they said. Then follow them, once you follow them they’ll already have a good image of your business in their mind and will follow you back. Continue to try to understand the ones you engage with to have a better understanding of their expectations of a brand and their overall needs. Monitor and actively listen to your clients, this makes it even easier to have a more meaningful conversation and effectively gain a lifetime client. That way when you do reach out to them or they reach out to you, you won’t come off as a salesperson but rather a friend giving them a solution to their needs.
(Tatsuto Shibata (Instagram: @_deepsky) He is engaging with his audiences well.)
Work with Influencers in Japan
While a strong social media account is important, it’s also very important to work with social media influencers. In recent years they have become essential assets for most companies in influencing sales. These influencers generally have a larger following that they are already engaged with, which provides businesses with an almost exponential network of future clients. To find an influencer just search keywords within your niche. For example if you have a coffee shop you might search coffee or latte, or if you are a coffee shop in say Osaka you might search for hashtags like osakacoffee. Another example would be looking at your competitors accounts and see who’s tagged photos there. For example if Ryoukun (Instagram: ryokun_sato), an instagramer focused on cafes in Japan, visited one of your competitors cafe you might reach out to him personally and see if he would be willing to work with you as well. Once you find the right influencers within your market you can reach out to them to create content that showcases your brand. Whether that be video, a simple review, or just a photo, this visibility in turn drives sales as it increases your brand awareness and the flow of traffic to your social media and website. Multiple studies in the past have even shown that followers are about 60% more likely to trust an influencer when they are recommending a product or brand. Put that into perspective with what other companies are already doing and the results they are seeing a return on investment of over 500%.
(Instagram: ryokun_sato Influencer in the cafe industry in Japan)
The last tip for businesses looking to grow sales in Japan are paid ads. While a business can rely on just influencers alone one key issue that comes to light is identifying future consumers. Of course your business has a target audience, but sometimes a business doesn’t realise the potential their product or service has for a different audience. With most social media platforms having millions of users it can be rather difficult in the beginning when marketing your brand. Every platform luckily has a plethora of tools to use for either creating ads or promoting already posted content. For example Facebook has the ability to target the audience by tags, age range, location, and even desired result. These features create a much higher exposure rate within your target audience than any other previous tip and in turn leads to a stronger following and growth in sales. If for example your focus is university students in Tokyo you might choose tags like university or students, with an age range of 18-22, and lastly with the location set to Tokyo you would have a highly focused target market for your ads and would potentially be able to drive sales and grow your customer base.