Line, Twitter, Facebook: Japanese people vote on their favorite social networking services

By Philip Kendall

Like them or loathe them, social networking services, or SNS for short, have become an integral part of our daily lives and society as a whole. While Facebook, Twitter and Naver Corp’s Line offer very different experiences, most users will agree that without them, they’d feel lost, or at least have a sudden and unexpected amount of free time on their hands.

Recently, a survey was conducted in Japan which asked respondents about the services they used, asking them which they turned to most often, which they were most careful about using and sharing information on, and which they’d hate to be without.

Comparatively speaking, Japan was fairly late to board the Facebook train, with many people as little as two years ago saying that the idea of putting their personal information online “for anyone to see” was a disturbing one. Now, however, along with a boom in Twitter users no doubt helped along by the 2010 drama "Sunao ni Narenakute," in which the main characters spent much of their time communicating in 140 characters or fewer, Facebook has become as much a part of life in Japan as in most other countries. Naver’s Line, too, has been leapt on by thrifty smartphone users over the last 18 months owing to its free and unlimited text messages and data voice calls, not to mention the dozens of cutesy “stickers” that can be bought and shared using the service.

But which of the “big three” – namely Twitter, Facebook and Line – does Japan love most? Which gets the most daily attention, and, if they had to give two of the services up, which service would win out in the end?

Japan’s Fast-Ask surveyed 680 men and women aged between 10 and 50 who used all three of the aforementioned services with questions about them. Here’s what they learned.

The SNS that respondents said they used most on a daily basis turned out to be Line (40.4%), followed by Twitter (32.6%), and Facebook (23.5%). Of these responses, however, nearly 50% of those aged 10-20 chose Twitter as their most-used service, while 37% of those in their 40s spent more time with Facebook.

When asked which of the three services they most used as a method for contacting people, Line again came in first place with 71.8% of the total votes. What was most interesting here, though, was that 91.8% of those aged 10-20 said that they turned to Line when they needed to get in touch with others, suggesting that for the younger generation, fast messaging means much more than things like status updates, photos of your cat or “Look Back” slideshows. Despite having an equally good messaging service and even a separate messaging application for those who want it, Facebook, the second-ranking service in this category won a mere 14% of the vote.

The responses to the following question stuck out as particularly interesting, however. When asked which of the three services they most worried about or took care when using, almost half of the respondents pointed to Facebook, no doubt because of the plethora of information that could potentially be obtain from a single account and its more personal nature than the other two. So while Facebook may have become hugely popular in Japan, it would seem that people are still, perhaps understandably, wary of the service.

The SNS Japanese people most worry about? Facebook, by a long shot.

More than half (59.5% to be exact) of those aged 40-50 chose Facebook as the SNS to take extra care with, while those aged 10-20 said that they were more mindful when using Line, with 39% of them choosing Naver’s messaging service instead.

Finally, when asked which SNS they’d be most troubled to go without, Line took the gold with 49% of the vote, followed by Twitter (18.7%), and Facebook (17.8%), suggesting that while photos of people pretending to kiss a made-up girlfriend and shared links to articles about cats failing are all well and good, what the people of Japan most seem to want is the simple ability to chat with their pals. Well, that and send them unbearably cute stickers of bunnies and bears holding hearts, obviously.

Source: My Navi News

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91.8% of those aged 10-20 said that they turned to Line when they needed to get in touch with others, suggesting that for the younger generation,

Despite having an equally good messaging service and even a separate messaging application for those who want it, Facebook, the second-ranking service in this category won a mere 14% of the vote

thats true. most of younger generation in japan stopped using FB and started using LINE

More than half (59.5% to be exact) of those aged 40-50 chose Facebook as the SNS to take extra care

I'm almost 40s. i never used LINE. FB and twitter is my tool

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I find FB and LINE (and Twitter) to be an odd comparison. The latter two are simply for direct communication or posting status, while Facebook is much more than that. I'm not saying the latter is my favourite, though it helps me keep in touch with family and friends back home and elsewhere, but I'm just saying they're not really the same.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I'm 61 years old (not that it matters) and of the 3 listed above I have FB and LINE. I use FB daily, no contacts for LINE yet so it is hard to compare. I will say this with all the sms that I have and I have a lot, FB is the only one that my friends in Japan use. Maybe that will change someday.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

LINE isn't really a SNS, it's a messaging app. It's become so popular by not trying to be a full SNS, just doing one thing and doing it extremely well.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I use Line with my English club kids. We set up a group chat, and now I can send a message to all 10 of them at the same time...anywhere at anytime. It's been great. They can respond, and we can all read the chat. It's been a fantastic way to practice English with them even when they're not at school.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

LINE is okay, but there's an undercurrent of "dodginess" to it. For example, it will randomly add people to your list who are "promoted" users (ie. random people that just send you sponsored spam). Then, you get random sponsored messages by friends on your list - WHO DIDN'T SEND IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Naver is trying to get too big for their own good, and it will bite them in the arse one day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I like LINE and FB, but they are two separate animals and to say that FB's "messaging service" is as good as LINE's is ridiculous. Of course I'm going to use LINE when I want to get in touch with someone quickly.

Most of my friends in Japan (Japanese and international) say that Twitter is just for talking to yourself. There's very little communication going on. I use LINE when I want to talk with friends or groups of friends quickly and I use FB mail for messages that I don't need a reply right away or just want to send them links.

With that being said, I don't believe that survey taking in Japan has reached the quality and accuracy of North America. The way questions are phrased are usually leading.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I hate TWITTER!! Not sure what is so great about tweets like "I just brushed my teeth" "Just had break fast" "wow, had a hard time taking a crap but luckily everything came out ok" this is basically the crap I have seen on Twitter and with LINE I contact people I want to contact and Facebook, it really helps me keep in contact with family and friends but Twitter??

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And I guess Mixi (Facebook's closest competitor in Japan, in format and intent if nothing else) has fallen off the map completely...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What those who have unlimited messaging and phone calls already

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I must admit that I'm a 'lost' soul, or as I like to say, 'techno-dinosaur', because I don't use an SNS - just regular PC email and personal face-to-face meetings. Makes for a much calmer life. And when I read how hurt people would be without their SNS, I have to wonder if they're unknowingly increasing their anxiety by using it to the degree they do.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

21 years old here and don't use any of them. Perhaps that makes me an old fogy in name but I don't get the need for them.

Hotmail, phone and SMS does the trick for me, set up a meeting place - usually the pub, then talk face to face.

I did have a Facebook account once but got tired of all the ugly ducklings and the cat pictures and the "LOOK WHAT I HAD FOR DINNER YOU ARE SO INTERESTED IN EVERY MINUSCULE PART OF MY LIFE" status updates.

It was pretty handy for getting gig information from my mates band though.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think there is no point in comparison between these three services, I use equally FB (to connect with family and friend all over the world and access large amounts of photo albums) Twitter (to be up-to date with news which i'm interested in - in 140 characters-) and Whatsapp which is equivalent to LINE, sans the stickers

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I use LINE for connection with a family. Facebook is mainly used for companionship with a friend, and acquisition of information. I'm 56.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stephen Knight: Mixi is more or less dead. I know a few people who still use it, but they also have FB accounts now and use that far more. Mixi killed itself when it became more and more isolated. To register now you need to fill out a profile AND have someone else vouch for you by mobile phone email. To join a community you need permission, and no one uses their real photos or names. It went from being social to being more anti-social. The same people who use it and have FB accounts use their real names and more often than not have selfies as their profile pics.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Never liked Mixi either!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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