Instagram is one of the best ways to market your brand in Japan. In our Complete Guide to Japanese Instagram, we cover everything that you need to know in order to get started.

Instagram's Popularity in Japan

From an individual user’s perspective, there are a number of reasons for Instagram’s popularity in Japan.

One of Instagram’s biggest appeals is that it is easy to use and accessible to all types of users, from the casual, occasional browser to the more serious, uploads-multiple-stories-a-day kind of person.

Additionally, no matter where you fall on this spectrum there’s likely content that you would be interested in.

SOURCE: Instagram for Business

The graphic above shows the most followed types of content by Japanese Instagram users. From left to right: Fashion, Photography, Cooking, Travel, Animals, and Music.

Another reason Japanese users like Instagram is that they can quickly browse through the app and gather new information and pick up on trends, thanks to the app’s visual nature.

Finally, many Japanese Instagram users like how simple it is to edit and share photos and videos all within a single app.

Japanese brands, on the other hand, enjoy Instagram for their own reasons.

With such a high number of Japanese Instagram users, businesses in Japan have a hard time ignoring.

Besides being one of the best platforms to showcase products due to its visual nature, it’s a platform that can be used by businesses of any size.

The fact that one can find both a mix of simple snapshots or extreme curation and carefully planned and executed shots side by side on the platform, shows how versatile Instagram is, enabling small boutiques and independent shops an accessible way to reach potential customers side-by-side major brands.

User Base

As of 2019 Instagram has over 33 million monthly active users in Japan–equivalent to 1 in 4 Japanese–and continues to enjoy growth in the market.

The main user base of Instagram is primarily made up of Japanese in their twenties to forties. Indeed, the users in this age group make up over 70% of the total number of Japanese Instagram users. Breaking down the data by gender also yields useful insight.

According to data from Gaiax, females make up the overwhelming majority of Japanese Instagram users–around 60% in the core age groups. Among 20 year-olds 63% of Japanese users are female, while only 37% are male. That’s almost a 2:1 ratio.

Only in the higher-age groups, people in their fifties and sixties, do we see more male Instagram users compared with female Instagram users in Japan. However, the ratio remains constant at 53:47, respectively, in these two age groups.

Japanese Instagram users by age and gender

Most Popular Japanese Instagram Accounts

As of 2020 the top 3 personal, Instagram accounts are made up of the following individuals.

Watanabe Naomi

Watanabe Naomi is a Japanese comedian who boasts the number one following among Japanese Instagram users. She has an especially strong fan base when it comes to Japanese women, and is often featured in commercials and advertisements.

Rola

Rola is a Japanese model and actress currently based in Los Angeles. Rola has had a number of high-profile endorsements for both Japanese and international brands, such as Puma, and her image adorns a number of billboards and posters here in Tokyo.

Mizuhara Kiko

Mizuhara Kiko is a Japanese model and actress who has served as a brand ambassador for the American brand, Coach, and can also currently be seen in advertisements for Panasonic Beauty products.

Top Japanese Instagram Brand Accounts

The 3 most popular Japanese brand accounts on Instagram include the following brands.

Tasty Japan

tasty japan instagram profile screenshot
SOURCE: Tasty Japan

For those unfamiliar, Tasty is a brand owned by digital media company, BuzzFeed. Their Japanese Instagram account, Tasty Japan, is the brand account with the highest following in Japan, with over 6.7 million followers. The account uploads photos and videos of various kinds of foods and snacks, while also sharing recipes.

Nissan

nissan japan instagram profile screenshot
SOURCE: Nissan

Japanese automobile brand, Nissan, has the second highest Instagram following among Japanese brand accounts, however, it should be noted that this is their global account and they do have a dedicated Japanese account as well.

Regardless, there is no shortage of JDM car fans around the world, and with a number of hit models throughout the years, such as the Skyline and GTR, it makes sense why this Japanese brand would have so many followers.

Honda

honda japan instagram profile screenshot
SOURCE: Honda

Honda, one of Japan’s top 3 car manufacturers, is also in the top 3 most followed Japanese Instagram brand accounts. Like Nissan, this particular account is the Japanese automobile brand’s global account and they have a separate account focused specifically on the Japanese market.

That being said, virtually everyone knows what a Honda Civic is, so it’s no surprise to see this brand also ranked so highly.

Japanese Instagram Getting Started

Any business looking to build a following on their Japanese Instagram account needs to keep in mind that it is a serious undertaking.

With a growing number of users, both individuals and businesses alike, relying on Instagram to grow their business the overall standard continues to increase year over year.

Without question it is clear that brands that invest significant time and energy into creating quality content for their Japanese Instagram accounts outperform others by a wide margin.

Building a following therefore has just as much to do with content creation as it does with account management.

Depending on your industry and the level of competition the exact steps your brand should take will vary.

Creating Content for Japanese Instagram

Instagram offers brands the ability to create and upload posts in a variety of formats. In this section we will go over each and show examples from Japanese Instagram accounts.

Types of Posts

Photo Posts

Photo posts were the first type of format on Instagram and remain the most popular choice for users. The vast majority of Japanese Instagram users will use their phones camera for capturing the moment. Using a more professional camera setup has become commonplace as well. As straightforward as they may look, photo posts allow for an incredible of amount of freedom in creativity and are often used by brands to show off their products. In most cases photos will make up the majority of posts on Japanese Instagram accounts.

starbucks japan instagram post
SOURCE: Starbucks Japan

Starbucks is incredibly popular in Japan and uploads content their fans love

Video Posts

Video posts can be a great way to mix things up on your Japanese Instagram account, especially if you tend to otherwise mainly upload photos. 

When video posts were first introduced back in 2013 they had a time limit of only 15 seconds. While usable, this may have felt too restricting for some users. Since then things have changed and the platform now allows users to upload video posts of up to one minute in length. 

While Instagram Stories has somewhat reduced the number of video posts Japanese Instagram users are uploading, there are instances where you may still prefer to use this format for a post. For example, some videos you may want to leave up for longer than 24 hours—especially ones that you spent a lot of time and energy to produce! Additionally, the quality of video is a big difference between video posts and Instagram Stories.

Ultimately the video post allows for a different, not necessarily better, type of storytelling than that which can be achieved with a static image alone.

As seen in the images below, video posts will have an icon similar to the common “play button” on the thumbnail and will briefly show the length of the video in the top right corner when you start watching a video.

brutus mag video post
brutus mag video post 2
SOURCE: Brutus
brutus mag video post 3

Pop culture magazine, Brutus, uses a video post to give us a peek into their latest issue

Shopping Posts

Shopping posts are of particular interest for D2C brands or those engaged in any kind of ecommerce. 

This format allows you to tag up to 5 products per image (up to 20 for carousel posts), which you will have uploaded in advance through Facebook/Instagram. When you make a shopping post you will gain a new icon in your profile, shaped like a shopping bag. This shopping bag icon is also displayed on the thumbnail and image of any shopping post. 

When users click on the shopping bag icon, all individual product(s) information (i.e. name and price) will be displayed. By tapping on the photo again, users are directed to a page with a button, which will allow them to purchase that product from your ecommerce site.

The goal of shopping posts is to use Instagram as a tool to drive sales. It also makes it easier for users to find individual products they like as they browse through your uploaded catalogue. As the only place you place a URL is normally allowed is in your profile’s bio section, the addition of the button linking to your ecommerce site is also incredibly handy.

Many Japanese retailers on Instagram use Shopping Posts and Instagram Shopping regularly as a core part of their ecommerce strategy.

instagram shopping post japan
instagram shopping post japan 2
SOURCE: BEAMS

Fashionable retailer, BEAMS, frequently uses Instagram Shopping posts 

Carousel Posts

Carousel posts are another type of post that has a number of potential applications for brands. 

When you want to show a number of images or videos that are all related it can make a lot of sense to put them in a carousel instead of posting them each individually (Note: the maximum number of images or videos you can post is 10 per carousel). 

With a carousel post you are essentially telling a story through multiple assets, both photos and/or videos, which can lead to some really creative results.

One of the most common use cases we find for carousels among Japanese businesses on Instagram are in B2C, especially when brands are releasing a new seasonal collection or have a product launch. 

When looking at an account’s main profile page, carousel posts are denoted by two squares in the top right hand corner of the thumbnail. When a user clicks on these posts the first image displays and they swipe left and right to view.

carousel post 1
carousel post 2
SOURCE: Bshop
carousel post 5

Part of a 5-image carousel that really tells a story about the artistry, craftsmanship, and individuals behind these pottery products

IGTV

IGTV, or Instagram TV, is a feature that allows users to post and share long-form content to Instagram. Some accounts can post videos up to 60 minutes in length. 

The IGTV icon is a television set and users or accounts that have uploaded an IGTV video will have an icon in their profile, which you can click to see all of the IGTV posts they have made, and any IGTV post will also feature the same icon in the top right-hand corner.

IGTV Japan 1
IGTV Japan 2
SOURCE: Maker's Shirt Kamakura
IGTV Japan 3

Popular dress shirt brand, Maker’s Shirt Kamakura, has a number of IGTV posts uploaded

Other Features

Stories

Content that disappears after 24 hours, ephemeral content, was popularized by Snapchat before Instagram unabashedly adopted the concept into the app as its “Stories” feature back in 2017. 

Interestingly enough, as Instagram was on somewhat of a delayed adoption schedule here compared to Western markets, the release of this feature essentially sealed the fate of Snapchat in Japan, which is why it never really took off in this country.

Regardless of how it came to be, Instagram Stories have become one of the most popular features and a staple form of content for many users.

The benefit of Instagram Stories is that they do not have to be nearly as polished as video posts. In fact it’s expected for Stories to be a little lower quality as the video quality itself is not as high and the resolution not as crisp. 

Because of this, and the fact that Instagram Stories are only 15-seconds in length, they generally work best when sharing videos of an event happening in real-time that are going to be shared soon after taking the video. They can also be useful to quickly share content that doesn’t warrant a post.

When an account has a new or unwatched Stories, you can easily tell because there will be a colored ring around their profile picture. Once you’ve watched the Instagram Stories, the ring will disappear, although you can still view the Stories by tapping the account’s profile photo.

instagram stories japan
instagram stories japan 2
SOURCE: Isetan Shinjuku

Isetan Shinjuku uses Instagram Stories to promote a special AR exhibit at their store 

Stickers

Stickers are a feature that can be found within Instagram Stories, and allows for a number of ways to further enhance your posts and content. Below we cover a few of the most popular stickers used in Japan.

Question / Poll Stickers

Polls and question stickers can be a good way to actively engage with your followers. Not only do polls encourage people to interact with your account, but it also can be used by brands to conduct some basic customer research. What better way to learn more about your customers and their preferences than asking them directly?

stories sticker poll question
stories sticker poll question 2
SOURCE: Isetan Men's

Isetan Men’s department store used both a question and poll sticker in this particular story 

Location Stickers

Location stickers can be used along with your phone or mobile devices’ GPS to show where you captured the image or video that you’re sharing. This location can be as precise as an actual address or as broad as the city and country.

location sticker
location sticker 2

Location stickers are one of the most commonly used stickers in Japan

Music Stickers

Those outside of Japan have been able to use this feature for a while, but Japanese Instagram users have only recently gotten the ability to add songs directly to their Instagram stories. 

While music taste varies from person, there should be no surprises here that you will find a lot of Japanese users choosing music from Japanese artists. Western artists, especially those who have achieved a global fanbase or are featured in a “challenge” or “dance” post that’s trending are also popular.

music sticker 1
music sticker 2
music sticker 3

Adding music stickers to your Instagram Stories can help convey a mood or theme

Instagram Reels

Instagram’s newest feature, Instagram Reels, was introduced to the majority of users just last month, on August 6th, and is Instagram’s answer to the growing popularity of TikTok.

Since it’s release, however, many users in Japan have simply proceeded to upload TikToks as Instagram Reels. Which raises the question: What’s the point?

First off, current geopolitical issues cannot be ignored here as there are real implications for businesses–especially big tech and social media–in today’s world. TikTok faces major uncertainty moving forward after bans in India, Pakistan, and a yet-to-be-decided fate in the US, and this fact represents an opportunity for Instagram, and more importantly, the company that owns Instagram, Facebook.

Looking at the strategic side of things Facebook has recognized the growing appeal of TikTok among younger, generation Z users, a demographic that they have not been reaching the same way that they did with millennials through Facebook and Instagram.

Copycat or not, we must remember that the Instagram Stories feature completely took the wind out of Snapchat’s sails and has quickly become one of the most used and popular features on the Instagram app. As we’ve mentioned before both in this guide and our article on the most popular Japanese social media, Instagram Stories’ release coincided with the growth in popularity in Japan which meant Snapchat never even gained a foothold here in Japan let alone found an audience.

That being said, there’s still some slight confusion by everyone about what, if anything, Instagram Reels brings to the table currently.

Many are wondering what the difference, in real terms, even is between reels and stories. Reels are the same 15-seconds in length as stories. Both stories and reels can stay on your feed if you choose to save them as highlights. Both can be be made private or shared for everyone to see.

So then what is the difference? Right now, to be 100% honest, it’s mainly the fact that reels take up 2/3 of the explore page coupled with the emphasis that is being placed on them by in the app by Instagram and owner, Facebook.

We’ll be closely watching to see how things develop with regard to Instagram Reels, as it’s still basically a brand-new feature.

instagram reels japan 1
instagram reels japan 2
SOURCE: Instagram
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Screenshots of Instagram promoting Instagram Reels to Japanese users in early August

Marketing Your Brand On Instagram In Japan

One of the biggest mistakes brands on Instagram is treating posting as a chore. While a consistent posting schedule is important for social media in general, one should not confuse this as meaning that uploading an image or video is more important than the quality of said creative.

When it comes to Instagram, and most things for that matter, you really get what you put in. Photography and videography are not to be taken lightly as in many cases Japanese Instagram users are interested in seeing the kind of high-quality content, that only brands with a budget can produce. Furthermore, as a mainly visual platform it’s important to upload photos and videos to Instagram that can really stand out.

While the Instagram algorithm tries to show users content that they believe suits each particular individual, everyone who uses the app knows how easy it is to get lost among the never-ending sea of content when scrolling through your feed or when browsing the “explore” tab. Considering over a billion photos are uploaded everyday it really is in your best interest to bring your A-game, and this goes doubly for a market, such as Japan, where you’re the away team.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Instagram Marketing

Instagram Profile

When you first get started with your Japanese Instagram account you’ll be guided by the app to setup your profile. As seemingly basic of a step as this is, your profile, or bio, is an important feature that you should not overlook. 

Not only is your profile one of the first things new visitors to your account see, but your bio is also the only place you can place a direct link to your website or an ecommerce store. This can be important as not everyone uses the shop feature directly within the app and you cannot depend on people to copy and paste a link.

Be sure to take the time to optimize your bio for your audience and let them know what your brand is about.

dean and deluca japan instagram profile
SOURCE: Dean and Deluca Japan

Dean and Deluca (yes, it still exists in Japan) has an effective and straightforward profile, but notice the shortened URL isn’t an actual link

Shopping on Instagram

As mentioned earlier when we talked about Shopping Posts, setting up a shop on Instagram is a great way for brands to leverage the platform to help drive potential customers towards a purchase. 

In order to set up a shop on Instagram, you will need to have a business account and go through a few steps to register, such as uploading a catalogue with product information. Assuming you are able to successfully set up your account, you will now be able to use the Shopping on Instagram feature, which can really help drive sales for your ecommerce business through Instagram.

instagram shopping japan 1
instagram shopping japan 2
SOURCE: Journal Standard
instagram shopping japan 3

The Journal Standard Instagram shop features the boutique’s latest products

Instagram Explore Page

The Explore Page is where users are most likely to be introduced to new content that isn’t from an account they already follow or an advertisement. In other words, this is the only place you’re going to find organic reach enter into the equation on Instagram. (Note: It’s still more organic reach than you can expect out of Facebook these days though). 

There is a lot of personalization when it comes to Explore thanks to the Instagram algorithm. What gets shown to users is primarily based on past interactions—posts they liked, saved, or commented on—but they may also be shown content (posts, videos, reels, and IGTV) from accounts similar to those that they’ve followed. 

Given the nature of the Explore Page, we’re again emphasizing the point about why you really want to be putting out the best content you can. If a user is seeing your content on Explore there’s a good chance that they are within your target demographic, and the best way to grab their attention is through appealing, high-quality content.

japanese instagram explore page

The Instagram Explore page is highly personalized but offers a rare chance to reach users organically and is a great place to learn about new products–assuming they stand out!

Best Time to Post On Instagram in Japan

According to data directly gathered by Facebook themselves, and shown in the graph below, the most popular times Japanese use the Instagram app is right before going to bed, late at night, and in the evening, in that order. 

That being said, the only way to be 100% sure of when the best time to post on Instagram for your brand is to test. You will typically want to post when the most users who follow your account are active. 

In addition to the information from Facebook, a few popular times for brands to post on Japanese Instagram include the morning commute, around people’s lunch break, and when people are on their way home from work or school in the evening. While not hard and fast rules, this should give your brand a good place to start when considering optimal posting times on Instagram in Japan.

best time to post on instagram in japan
SOURCE: Instagram for Business

According to Instagram, 37% of Japanese users check Instagram right before bed

Instagram Captions

Despite the visual nature of Instagram, captions can still play a big supporting role. 

As with Japanese hashtags, when using Instagram in Japan to target Japanese users, your captions will pretty much always need to be written in Japanese to ensure that your audience will understand the message which you are trying to get across. 

While some brands may sprinkle in English words, especially slogans, this should not be misinterpreted to mean that Japanese Instagram users on the whole have a strong understanding of English, as that simply is not the case at all.

The right captions will not only complement an uploaded image or video, but they can also help people get a better understanding of your brand through your unique voice.

japanese instagram caption
SOURCE: Isetan Shinjuku

This post from Isetan features a personal story from a member of their staff in the fragrance department and really helps to add value and substance to the image

Japanese Instagram Hashtags

Although they were first used on Twitter, hashtags quickly gained widespread popularity and spread to all the other social networks as a way for users to categorize their posts. This has allowed people to quickly search for themes or topics that are identified by hashtags.

When it comes to hashtags the majority of Japanese Instagram users choose hashtags written in Japanese, more than English, which is why Japanese Instagram campaigns have to be localized to be most effective.

hashtags 1
hashtags 2
hashtags 3

The above screenshots showing hashtag information for Tokyo, Shibuya, and Fashion (L-R)

How to Use Japanese Hashtags

Despite what some may say, there really is no hard and fast rule surrounding hashtag usage; it depends entirely on your brand’s audience and followers. 

While there are hashtag limits for platforms like Instagram (MAX of 30 hashtags per post) most users and accounts will only use a fraction of that number, with 11 being the current average for Instagram in Japan.

Relevant Instagram hashtags vary by industry so a good best practice is to conduct research before embarking on your Japanese Instagram campaign. Checking a hashtag’s popularity, usually gauged by total number of posts with that specific hashtag, is a quick way to determine whether you want to use that hashtag. 

Depending on your goals, however, you might actually choose to target hashtags with slightly less popularity. The reason for this strategic choice is that when using really popular hashtags (e.g. #love) any content that you upload will be quickly replaced by newer content uploaded by other users. In other words, there is an element of strategy involved with choosing and using your Japanese hashtags.

Hashtags can also be a good idea to include in your posts as Japanese Instagram users will occasionally search by hashtag or in some cases be following specific hashtags. This presents an opportunity for your brand to get in front of individuals that have basically vetted themselves as belonging to your target audience.

Finally, many brands will also create their own branded hashtag, which is primarily used to track performance for campaigns and mentions.

Advertising on Instagram in Japan

While the other tips on marketing your brand on Instagram in Japan focused on organic growth, advertising on Instagram is also a viable option to not only promote your brand, products, and services, but your account as well.

instagram advertising website screenshot
SOURCE: Facebook for Business

In a similar vein to parent company Facebook, Instagram has also evolved into an advertising-centric platform.

In addition to the growing number of users present on the platform, another one of the reasons that building a following has become much more difficult since Instagram first emerged is due to the app’s focus on paid advertising.

As happened with Facebook, organic growth on Instagram has become a bit more difficult to achieve as advertising has become more important to the platform.

These days it’s more or less understood that businesses using Instagram will need to incorporate some level of social media advertising in order to promote their business successfully on the app.

When it comes to Japanese Instagram advertising, global advertisers do have the benefit of using a platform that is familiar to them; which presents an accessible means of reaching potential Japanese customers. However, they still must grapple with the language barrier as well as significant cultural differences between consumers in their respective home markets and Japanese consumers.

Finally, to be successful with Japanese Instagram ads, both media planning and implementation are crucial elements. 

To begin, you must first properly plan your campaigns to reach Japanese Instagram users and second you must actively manage your campaigns and account. If you do decide to go the true, self-serve route, realize that in addition to familiarizing yourself with the advertising dashboard, you will also need to learn about the various types of ads, targeting options, and a host of other components that go into properly running a successful Japanese Instagram campaign.

Japanese Instagram Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the biggest byproducts of social media’s growth, and as a form of paid promotion activity, it’s a good follow-up to what we just talked about with advertising on Instagram.

While influencers exist on all social media platforms, and with most individual influencers often being active on multiple platforms, Instagram influencers continue to be among the most widely-used for collaborations and other promotional activities by brands.

Depending on how you choose to define “influencer,” there may be as many as 10,000 Japanese influencers covering a wide variety of interests and niches.

Earlier in this guide we listed the top Instagram accounts in Japan, but in the case of non-celebrities, the vast majority of brands would instead be looking to work with Japanese Instagram influencers with a more modest following in the tens or hundreds of thousands of followers (i.e. micro-influencers) rather than these famous individuals.

It’s important to note that working with Japanese Instagram influencers will require a Japanese speaker in almost all cases. Furthermore, while you may be able to reach out to individual influencers directly, even micro-influencers with a relatively smaller following may belong to an agency, which means you may need to communicate with a Japanese business that is not used to catering to a foreign clientele.

Japanese Instagram Trends

The Japanese, especially the younger generations, are well-known around the globe as being trendsetters, especially in fashion and pop culture. At the same time, they are also notoriously fickle and quick to move onto the next new thing. Keeping up to date with the most recent Japanese Instagram trends is one of the more important factors to creating a proper strategy for Instagram marketing in Japan.

Previous Trend

Instabae (インスタ映え)

A few years ago, the biggest trend among Japanese Instagram users was the concept of instabae (インスタ映え). The closest English equivalent would probably be something like the term “instagrammable”. In other words anything that looked like it would make for a good Instagram post might be deemed as instabae and Japanese Instagram users would actively seek out such products, locations, etc., that fit this bill.

Although the term is still in use, the hashtag has been used over 7.7 million times, it’s popularity has definitely peaked. 

Furthermore, as people have different ideas of what makes something instabae, it’s inevitably led to the current situation where a search for the term shows a strange hodgepodge of visuals lacking in any sort of shared identity.

instagram trend japan instabae 1
instagram trend japan instabae 2

The first screenshot showing the info for the instabae hashtag illustrates how popular it is/was, but the screenshot on the right makes it clear how it’s pretty much become meaningless as anything and everything now gets tagged as instabae

Current Trend

Authentic Content

In similar fashion to western countries, one of the growing Japanese Instagram trends is a move towards more authentic-looking content. In a marked departure from the instabae trend from a few years ago, a lot more attention has been given to social media’s power to give unrealistic impressions, which may be behind this new shift.

Furthermore, with the advent of Instagram Stories–mainly their drastically lower image quality–it’s become far more acceptable for content to not always be perfect and shots to be less than immaculately styled. In fact, individual Japanese Instagram users in the younger generation tend to be the ones most likely to distance themselves from the once widespread “Instagram aesthetic” that was once typical for posts on Instagram.

How To Grow Your Japanese Instagram Account

Whether you are starting from scratch or are looking to build your current following, there a few key considerations that you will want to keep in mind in order to grow your Japanese Instagram account.

Define Your Target Audience

The first thing you will need to understand is your target customer. In other words: Know your audience. Taking the time to define your audience ensures you are targeting the right people with your messaging and also gives you focus.

Research Your Competition

Even the most niche of businesses or brands will have a handful of competitors, that’s simply the nature of business these days. Competitive research can help give you a better understanding of the overall landscape as well as insights into what resonates with potential customers. Be sure to check out how your competition is using Instagram for their own marketing as you embark on your Instagram marketing activities.

Develop a Strategy

Having a strategy to guide your marketing activities on Instagram is crucial to success.

While there are many approaches a brand might take in developing their strategy, those who take a customer-centric approach might start with asking questions about their customers. In other words, who are they and why do they follow you? Everything from how often you will post to what kind of content can be discerned from this kind of activity.

Decide on an Aesthetic for Your Brand

Here’s where the branding part comes in. Notice it’s not number one on this list. 

There’s so many ways you can approach this point and it all really depends on your brand. The content you upload should be recognizable and in line with your overall identity. It should also clearly represent what you do and what you are about.

Post Relevant AND Original Content

These days you’d be hard-pressed to find Japanese Instagram users actively following and engaging with brands that aren’t producing their own original content.

If your brand is on Instagram but not producing relevant and original content, then you should not expect this particular channel to support your sales funnel in any truly meaningful way.

Additionally, posting relevant and original content is one of the most straightforward ways to grow your Japanese Instagram account, as you are actually giving people a reason to follow you as opposed to simply hoping that they will.

Create a Posting Schedule

When you’re creating a lot of content, managing your Instagram operation suddenly becomes a much bigger issue. A posting schedule or content calendar can really help you stay organized and on task. 

There are a number of tools are out there, like Hootsuite or Buffer, which allow you to schedule your Instagram content in advance. While the various tools will each have their own respective pros and cons in terms of features, the main takeaway is that having a schedule allows you to more efficiently implement your Japanese Instagram strategy and there are solutions out there to help make this task more efficient.

Frequency

Regularly uploading content to Instagram can be a great help in growing your account. While there’s a lot of theories surrounding the exact impact frequency, in other words, how often you post, has on your Instagram account’s performance, the thing we can say for certain is that posting on a regular basis keeps you top of mind–and therefore more relevant–among potential Japanese customers. 

Consistency

If you decide to use Instagram, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly, it’s important to commit to putting in the work on the platform. There’s nothing worse than following an account only for the quality to drop. When this happens it can lead to an exodus of people who unsubscribe, which never looks good. Consistently posting content that your followers want to see (e.g. images, photos, videos) is important to maintaining a good Japanese Instagram account.

Engage With Your Customers

Social media is meant to be social. This may come off as a self-evident statement, but you’d be surprised at the number of brands who miss opportunities to actively engage with customers on social media when they initiate conversation with the brand. In the case of foreign brands marketing to Japanese, this can be due to their inability to communicate properly in the language. 

Brands that actively engage their Japanese Instagram audience are rewarded with greater loyalty, so it’s a good idea to have someone who can communicate with followers and potential customers as needed.

Analyze and Iterate

The final point is to take every opportunity to make your Instagram account better. Analyze your performance data. Test and try out new content that improves upon previous content that performed well with your target audience. Businesses on Instagram have access to various types of data that can help inform your content decisions. Don’t let that data and insight go to waste.

souda kyoto official instagram screenshot 1
souda kyoto official instagram screenshot 2
SOURCE: Souda Kyoto Official

The Souda Kyoto Official Instagram account is a great example of many of the points we outlined above. In addition to the stunning content they upload, all highlighting Kyoto prefecture and Kyoto city, they have a clear understanding of their target audience. The account is part of the long-running JR Central campaign of the same name そうだ京都、行こう (souda kyoto, ikou), which encourages people to travel by train to visit Kyoto.

Bottom Line: Japanese Instagram

Instagram is well-positioned to remain one of the top social media platforms in Japan for the foreseeable future. 

In addition to a substantial user base equivalent to 25% of the Japanese population, the app also enjoys popularity among men and women from a wide range of age groups. 

Furthermore, when compared to other social media platforms like Twitter and LINE, it’s proven to be a much better fit for brands to showcase their products and find some organic reach. At the same time, Instagram also offers the versatility of a self-serve ad platform, with Instagram ads providing an additional means for businesses to reach Japanese customers through paid advertising.

That being said, for non-Japanese brands there are still a number of challenges to finding success with Instagram in Japan. In order to truly resonate with Japanese Instagram users, the importance of localized content and messaging cannot be stressed enough.

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Categories: Social Media