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Japan Sees a Surge in Instagram Users

But the service still trails Twitter in popularity

October 5, 2017 | Social Media

Japan’s love affair with photo- and video-focused Instagram appears to be growing. According to recent data from Nielsen and NetRatings Japan Inc., the number of Instagram app users in the country hit 17.1 million in August 2017, a year-over-year increase of 43%.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Smartphone App Users in Japan, Aug 2016 & Aug 2017 (millions and % change)

Despite that increase, the number of Instagram users still trails user figures for Facebook and Twitter by a substantial margin.

Nielsen/NetRatings Japan reported that Twitter was No. 1 among the three services, with 26.6 million users. That was up 19% over 2016.

Meanwhile, Facebook app users totaled 22.5 million, a 7% year-over-year bump.

Even though Twitter is getting hammered by analysts for its slowing user growth worldwide, the service is still doing pretty well in Japan. eMarketer estimates Twitter has a larger user base in Japan than Facebook, with a projected 25.1 million users in 2017.

Twitter Users in Japan, 2016-2021 (millions and % of social network users)

As demonstrated by the Nielsen/NetRatings Japan figures, Japan is unusual in that it remains one of the few developed markets where Facebook is not the most popular social network. eMarketer expects Twitter will have a penetration rate of 47.3% among social network users in Japan by year’s end, while Facebook’s share will reach 40%.

Twitter’s popularity in Japan can be traced back to 2011, when it was widely adopted by residents looking for way to communicate after that year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami damaged more traditional telecommunications infrastructure.

But Twitter has also found an audience in Japan thanks to its potential for anonymous posting, something that appeals to a populace that values privacy and avoids behavior that draws attention to oneself.

Nielsen/NetRatings Japan unveiled some interesting differences in its demographic analysis of Twitter and Instagram in Japan. The companies found that, while Twitter’s users were evenly split by gender, women made up the bulk of Instagram users, at 58%.

Meanwhile, Twitter enjoyed a comparatively high penetration rate among younger millennials in Japan, used by 68% of those ages 18 to 29. By comparison, Instagram was used by just 41% of respondents in that age group.

Rahul Chadha

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