A study conducted by TNS, the world’s largest Custom Market Research specialists, analyzed the online behavior for 50,000 consumers in 46 countries and determined that Japanese internet users have the least friends on social networking sites.
Mixi is the king of the social networking sites in Japan, embracing more than 25 million users. MySpace has had a presence in Japan since 2006, but it has never gained popularity. Facebook, since its Japanese launch in 2008, has also experienced a very slow organic growth, experiencing 1/10 of the Mixi membership.
One cultural hurdle concerns the Japanese need for privacy which social networking sites like Mixi accommodate. Anonymous nicknames are preferred and Facebook requires users to reveal their real names.
Facebook also cannot compete with the security users feel with Mixi, which provides a way to see who has viewed a profile with the “ashiato” (“footprint”) functionality. This is a fundamental part of the Mixi platform that is guaranteed for all users.
The average Japanese Internet use, according to BBC reports, has just 29 friends on websites such as Facebook or Twitter, compared with an average of 233 in Malysia, 231 in Brazil and 217 in Norway.
Considering that Internet statistics place Japan third in the world in the number of Internet users, following China and the United States, this does seem an odd fact.
“The study could suggest a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships… In rapid growth markets… users are embracing these new channels in much more active ways. The digital world is transforming how they live, develop and interact,” said Matthew Froggatt, TNS’s chief development officer.
Another aspect of this study revealed that those countries that are just discovering the power of the Internet and are newer to technology are embracing it at a much faster rate than in established markets.
Ironically, despite this, Twitter in Japan has caught on due to the fact perhaps that many famous Japanese celebrities and politicians are using their real names on its portals.
Will Japan catch up with the rest of the world?
Keep social networking for the answer.