Why LinkedIn Offers Potential—and Pitfalls—for Marketing in Japan

Why LinkedIn Offers Potential—and Pitfalls—for Marketing in Japan

Marketing can often be about finding a new strategy or tool. With so many businesses making a shift to digital marketing in some way or another, it can be intimidating to find an edge among the sheer volume of competition. LinkedIn offers enticing ways for your business to reach a growing audience with a relatively untapped potential.

When it comes to social media, Facebook or Twitter will most likely be the first platforms you imagine to post your content and advertising. However, LinkedIn has actually shown to be more effective at generating leads than either platform. According to a study covered by HubSpot, LinkedIn can be up to 277 percent more effective than both of them. This is supported by data compiled by Digital Vidya that states that 93 percent of B2B marketers consider LinkedIn to be the most effective site for generating leads and that 51 percent of companies acquired a B2C customer through LinkedIn.

It may seem counterintuitive at first. How can two of the most well-known social media networks get beaten out by the more niche platform? Well, consider that LinkedIn had an annual user count of 690 million in 2020. Then consider the fact that users are already very conscious of collaboration and making connections with other professionals while they are on the site.

Playing by Its Own Rules

However, there are some differences in the way Japanese users approach LinkedIn. As of 2021, there were about 2.8 million users, about 2.3 percent of Japan’s population. Nearly 63 percent of them were in the 25–34 age bracket. Due to the lack of a Japanese interface, LinkedIn is not commonly used among Japanese businesspeople. The majority of “domestic users” are non-Japanese people working in Japan, such as recruiters.

Garreth Stevens, consulting and sales director at Custom Media said: “Japanese people may not see LinkedIn the same way that Westerners do. This is because Facebook’s users in Japan tend to be older, and some see it as a more professional platform than we do in the West—so in terms of perception, Facebook seems to be more of a competitor to LinkedIn than we might expect. And Twitter’s success in Japan may also be sapping much of the attention, professional or otherwise, in terms of thought and conversation, leaving not much room for LinkedIn.”

However, there are cases of prominent business people in Japan who use the platform. Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, the founder and CEO of Rakuten maintains an active presence on the platform, sharing updates and articles frequently. Another is Kathy Matsui, the general partner of MPower Partners, Japan’s first ESG-focused global VC fund. But both stand out as exceptions, however: Mikitani has an undeniably global presence and Matsui was born and raised in the US.

What’s more, there are other recruiting tools, practices and platforms that are used in Japan when it comes to job hunting. This means that LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily offer the same value as a public CV. Stevens points out this can lead to surprises for companies looking to advertise on the platform: “Many international firms have a bad habit of deploying APAC-wide strategies across a number of countries, and those expecting to get reasonable performance on LinkedIn in Japan may be a bit surprised by the eye-watering prices. We often see CPC advertising clicks cost ¥1,000 yen for the same content that would cost less than ¥100 per click on other social media platforms by comparison.”

Many international firms have a bad habit of deploying APAC-wide strategies across a number of countries, and those expecting to get reasonable performance on LinkedIn in Japan may be a bit surprised by the eye-watering prices.
Garreth Stevens
Consulting and Sales Director
Custom Media

So keeping all of this in mind, it’s important for advertisers to be aware of who they want to target on LinkedIn in Japan. If the aim is to reach internationally minded Japanese people, mixed families, English speakers and expats, then LinkedIn can be a great option, offering plenty of potential.

However, you want to make sure you maximize your approach. Want to reach international executives in Tokyo, not only on LinkedIn, but using a variety of creative strategies? Get in touch with us:

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Meet Custom Media’s Senior Creative Consultant

Meet Custom Media’s Senior Creative Consultant

I’d been a creative sort my whole life, and in fact ended up taking a master’s in music composition in Scotland. Along with that, my other skill was in communication, so after graduating I worked in marketing and communications for a small classical music non-profit organization in London for several years, which helped introduce me to the world of marketing.

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