Using social media for localising your content (in Japan)

James Lovell

Introduction to social media research

Ten years ago, growing an online reputation was important for a brand to succeed but now it is essential. And it goes without saying that the cornerstone to any successful digital reputation starts and ends with a social media presence. But as a marketer, PR guru, or business owner, if this is the singular way that you view social media, then you are thinking too linearly.

According to Oberlo, there are 3.2 billion individual, active social media users worldwide. That’s 42% of the global population. That’s a hell of a lot of people sharing, commenting, “liking”, researching brands, reviewing products and complaining about their flight delays. This offers up an opportunity. Find me a survey or focus group that ever included this many applicants!

Aside from the census, you won’t find one. ‘Social Media Research’ or ‘Social Listening’ is the research method that allows you to tap into this online focus group. So what is it and why should it be the fundamental research method for tailoring your content for a market, such as Japan?


What is social listening?

Social media research, or social listening, allows you to tap into the billions of conversations occurring across social media every day. By creating trackers/queries/searches, you can understand exactly how people are engaging with topics, brands, keywords and content online. You can then categorise, filter and visualise this information in the following ways:

  • Subtopics – e.g. Across social media what topics do people care about when they talk about hair care?
  • Time-line – how does the conversation change week by week, month by month and year by year?
  • Time of day – when do people talk about different topics?
  • Channels Identification – which social media channels or domains is the conversation living on?
  • Audience understanding – does the conversation change by gender, age, interest, etc?
  • Media – which images are people more likely to share?
  • Locations – where is the conversation taking place and in which languages?
  • Brand Reputation – what did people think about the most recent ad campaign or brand?
  • Influencer Identification – which influencers match your chosen topic or brand?

But why should you choose social media research over other more traditional forms of research?


The raw value of social media research

When targeting a local market (eg. Japan), it is crucial to understand that territory through the audiences’ posts on social media. This understanding is rooted in the following core values.

  1. The data catchment is large: there are 3.2 billion individual, active social media users worldwide.
  2. It is representative: 90.4% of ‘Millennials’, 77.5% of ‘Generation X’, and 48.2% of ‘Baby Boomers’ are active social media users (Emarketer, 2019).
  3. And is unguarded and volunteered: Unlike surveys and focus groups, people can be brutally honest about brands and topics.
  4. You can test brand hypotheses or beliefs: E.g. If you believe that you should be targeting a specific persona online, then test it using social listening. Is this the right thing to do?
  5. You can discover unknown unknowns: Insights and discoveries that you can use to inform your marketing.

How to make the most of the data to create the best content

Nothing can stop the onward advance of technological innovation and social listening is no exception. Tools have become powerful integrated systems that can help you to localise your content no matter the country. But how can you get the most out of these tools and help you to tailor your marketing for a specific nation or territory? 

  1. Have a clear understanding of what you are trying to find out. E.g. I am a marketer at a travel company that specialises in selling holidays to the Asian market. I want to research what holiday-makers care about when they travel to Japan compared to other Asian countries. This will help me to tailor my content aimed at attracting more visitors to Japan.
  2. Look for variations in topics and language and match this with your tone and subject matter. This will help to resonate your content with your audience. E.g. What is the most talked-about location in Japan and does this differ depending upon where the holidaymaker is from?
  3. Observe seasonality changes to help you to schedule your content for the right moments in your content calendar. E.g. Does blossom dominate images of Japan during springtime and where is this most prevalent?
  4. Identify audience groups. E.g. Are these holiday-makers young or old and what are they interested in? Are there influential people within the category?

The more you listen to social media, the more you’ll understand the Japanese market

It can be challenging to understand local culture when you do not live in the country. Japan is no exception as it is a unique market both culturally and linguistically.

However, in this digital era, technology can help and social listening tools are one way of taking on this challenge. Diving deep into the Japanese market using a social listening tool will offer you up some interesting insights. Then it is up to you to make the most of these findings and create the best content for your campaign in Japan.


James Lovell

UK (Managing) Director


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