In Japan, Line, the homegrown platform, is by far the most popular social network. Even global behemoths YouTube, Facebook and Twitter trail Line. But Facebook's photo-focused service Instagram is among the fastest-growing social sites in Japan.
According to a survey of smartphone users who logged into social media and video-sharing apps conducted by JTB Tourism Research and Consulting Co. in 2016, Instagram was used by one out of five respondents, but usage grew 5.4 percentage points year over year—a figure surpassed only by Facebook.
More than three-quarters of smartphone users who logged in to social media video-sharing apps in 2016 chose Line. YouTube appealed to about 55% of respondents; while just over 40% chose Facebook and a little more than 30% picked Twitter.
Japan is a country where visual expressions often trump verbal ones, and where cuteness and traditional aesthetics are deeply wedded to popular culture. So it makes sense that Instagram, which is ideal for displaying those cultural mores, is growing in popularity.
Data from software provider
JustSystem's online survey platform Fastask, supports the trend. According to JustSystem's findings, Instagram grew from 10% of internet users in May 2015 to 15.2% in April 2016. Line saw a similar amount of growth going from 43.0% to 48.8%, while. Facebook and Twitter remained essentially flat at about 36%.
According to a May 2016 survey of smartphone users in Japan by Mobile Marketing Data Lab, more people used Instagram than Line, Twitter or Facebook for status updates and video posting.
Usage of Instagram is particularly dominant among females. The platform achieves 34.0% reach among female smartphone users vs. only 21.2% among male, according the same Mobile Marketing Data Lab survey. Instagram is also popular among younger female smartphone users, those ages 10 to 29.