Both Twitter and Facebook have seen a lot of coverage in Japan so I thought I would share some of the things that I've learned about these two services and how they are doing.
Twitter in Japan
Twitter seems to be all over the place in Japan. Just recently, Fuji Television made "Twitter" the center piece of one of it's newest TV series called, "Sunao ni narenakute". The TV series is about a group of 5 young adults getting know each other through Twitter. I've also seen reality TV shows and many news stations run features on Twitter like the one below.
You also see that instead of traditional ads that call for visiting a website, you're now seeing commercials that call for follows on twitter like the video embedded below.
Just a year or two ago in Japan, I think people outside the tech sector had never heard of Twitter. Now it's a commonly recognized service and everyone from the Prime Minister of Japan to local shrines and temples have entered the twitter scene.
So how successful is Twitter?
According to a recent study by Nielson Online, there are 7.5 million twitter users in Japan. This is a huge accomplishment considering that Mixi, the largest social network in Japan has a user base of 10 million. According to the same study, a larger percentage of the population uses twitter than in the United States. In Japan twitter is used by 12% of online users where as in the United States it is at 10%.
Considering this, I think Twitter and it's market entry consultant, Digital Garage have done well.
Facebook in Japan
In comparison, Facebook's market entry and adoption rate in Japan hasn't been so hot. Yahoo news recently ran an article stating that Facebook adoption rates have been slow, with Japanese users totaling less than a million.
The primary reason for the slow adoption is attributed to the fact that the Japan market is not used to using real names. Mixi, the dominant SNS in Japan does not enforce real names and in fact, the majority of my personal friends on Mixi use nicknames. Another reason is the lack of support on Japanese cell phones, and although Facebook is supported on smart phones like the iPhone, they still have a long way to go in the Japanese mobile space.
The article gave hope for Facebook stating that Twitter was last year's thing and perhaps Facebook has a chance of being this year's web sensation.