Marketers From Japan Differ Over Facebook’s Potential

San Francisco– While marketing on Facebook is popular in the United States, interactive marketers from Japan have mixed views about the platform’s potential in their country.

Marketers from Japan, during interviews at the SES San Francisco conference during ClickZ Connected Marketing Week last week, also say they’re keeping an eye on Google+.

Toshiyuki Yamamoto, CEO from EC Studio, a company that offers web services, has been a regular SES SF attendee since 2005. Always on the lookout for trends, he says Twitter and location-based marketing such as using Foursquare for promotions have been popular topics over the years.

For Yamamoto, Facebook marketing has been most talked about at the event this year. However, he points out that using Facebook as a marketing platform is still nascent in Japan as there are only around 4 million users on the social network compared to the larger user base of other homegrown sites such as Mixi and Gree.

Another attendee, Hiroto Izumi, co-CEO of Japan-based search agency Le Grand has a different view. He anticipates that more brands in Japan will embrace Facebook as a marketing tool.

In Japan, big consumer brands like Coca-Cola and Uniqlo have been actively running Facebook campaigns. For instance, popular local apparel brand Uniqlo’s Facebook page boasts more than 274,000 fans from around the world.

Unlike Mixi’s user base that mainly comprise of younger users who use their nicknames, Facebook in Japan is a real name social network. Because of the real identity requirement, some companies in Japan are starting to use Facebook as a platform to recruit staff, Izumi adds.

He is also keeping watch on Google+ and how it will influence organic search in the coming months.

But some marketers such as Takahiro Watanabe, chief strategy officer who heads up search at iRep thinks Google+ is limited to early adopters for now and not widely used by Internet users in Japan.

Watanabe’s key takeaway at the conference is that social has evolved in search. He notices that businesses in Japan take a direct response approach to social marketing such as pushing their product messages to customers. In the U.S., companies seem to focus more on brand building and customer relationships when communicating on social platforms, he adds.

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