Last month Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) surpassed the 18 million user mark in Japan, pushing it well past domestic social network rival Mixi as perhaps the preferred SNS in Japan . In addition to consumers jumping on the bandwagon, businesses are getting in on the action as well.
The travel industry is no exception, and there are a number of initiatives that try to leverage Facebook to promote tourism among domestic and international audiences. One such service just launched this past week.
It’s called ’fb Japan Kankou Annai (or simply fb Japan), and it is essentially a website that collects Facebook pages relating to the tourism industry (currently a total of 324), including those of hotels and ins, as well as airlines and railways. The page was created by Tokyo-based social network consulting company Ainapal, which has runs a few other Facebook pages, including Beautiful Ryokan in Japan. If any tourism-related companies out there wish to add their Facebook page to the list, they can do so using a submission form.
Reaching beyond Japan’s borders
Similarly, the recently launched Travelience service (I’m not a fan of the name!) offers guided tours of Tokyo, and is making use of Facebook by engaging potential tourists, posting photos from around Japan, and conducting quizzes. The company boasts cheaper tours than its competitors, and its Facebook presence (now with about 21,000 fans) is a place potential tour participants can comment and have discussions.
As for Japan’s official tourism arm, the JNTO, it has also been pretty active in reaching out on the social network. The organization operates a number of regional pages targeting a variety of countries, including the USA (153,000 fans), Singapore (141,000), and Thailand (92,000).
Of course, the efforts of these companies to promote Japan abroad via Facebook pales in comparison to startup Tokyo Otaku Mode, which has racked up more than 11 million Facebook fans with its page about Japanese otaku subculture . Likewise, another young startup under the KDDI Mugen Labo incubator program, Kawaii Museum JPN, is doing something similar, and currently has more than 3 million Facebook fans.
In addition to capitalizing on the power of Facebook, companies and organizations are using the afore-mentioned Line chat app to reach audiences and customers. This past week we featured the apparel brand Lip Service which has been using Line to connect with customers via smartphones, and the end result was a 50% boost in in sales over the previous week. Even the Prime Minister’s Office has a Line account, promising to push updates to citizens who want to stay in the loop using their smartphones .