How to Advertise on LINE Messenger in Japan

Posted By Caylon Neely

このブログは英語表記のみです。

LINE is Japan’s most popular social network and its most popular messenger, all built into one app. This article will explain how to get started as a business on LINE in Japan. We will highlight proven ways to build a network of followers and give advice on how to plan content for LINE users in direct and group contexts.

Though mobile messaging apps haven’t caught on as a strong marketing tool in the west yet, platforms such as WeChat and LINE have become hugely popular among marketers in Asia. As for Japan, LINE is its number one messenger and is installed on over 90% of smartphones. As a result, LINE serves as an amazingly effective tool for creating genuine and useful connections with Japanese consumers. If you’re looking towards the Japanese market, it’s impossible to ignore its potential.

If you’re unfamiliar with LINE or how it is used, check out our previous article that goes in depth on LINE’s general usage in Japan. If you already know how it works, then let’s jump into it and see how to get the most out of your marketing on LINE in Japan.

Start With LINE@ Accounts, or LINE Partnerships

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In order to promote on LINE, you must get a LINE@ account or become a LINE partner.

LINE@ Accounts

Starting a LINE@ account is free, but there is a paid version that comes with more options and lets you choose a custom name. LINE@ accounts allow owners to do the following things:

  • Create an Account Page
  • Post content on LINE Timeline
  • Send batch messages to followers
  • Chat in one-to-one messages
  • Share coupons and announcements
  • Conduct surveys
  • Track statistics

To get your brand started, we recommend going to LINE’s website and setting up a free LINE@ account and then moving up from there.

LINE PARTNERS

A LINE partnership is a more serious relationship with LINE, where you will receive added support and contact from LINE corp. LINE Partners have the opportunity to use the following tools to promote their brand on LINE’s multiple apps and services.

  • LINE Official Accounts
  • Promotion Stickers
  • LINE Points
  • LINE Game Services
  • And more…

A note about LINE official accounts: they provide many of the same functions of LINE@ accounts with added support for LINE partner features. There are also various types of LINE official accounts, such as corporate or celebrity accounts. Creating an official account is not required to become a partner, but many promotions are built around building a following for your LINE official account.

Generally, the top level promotions and advertisement options are saved for LINE partners. We will dive into some of these promotions and how they can be used in the next section.

Use LINE’s Tools and Services to Build a Following

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Your company’s new LINE account won’t come with a network of followers, you will have to build that yourself. Therefore we suggest that you utilize a few of the following methods to effectively promote your products and services on LINE. Some of these techniques are available with LINE@ accounts, and others require you to be a LINE partner, we will highlight the availability of each one accordingly.

LINE Stickers

Available for: LINE Partners

The most notable, yet the most expensive, way to build a network is to use the LINE sticker shop. As characters and mascots are incredibly popular in Japan, companies have flocked to the sticker shop with cute and funny characters for users to buy and use in their LINE messages. Most stickers are sold for 100 yen per pack, but companies can also give away free stickers. Free stickers typically require users to add the company’s LINE account as a friend to download them. This is an incredibly effective way to build a large following on LINE and create a wider reach for further promotions.

This method is not light on the effort, as your company must go through the full process of planning and creating its sticker pack. If you already have a mascot or spokesperson for your brand, that will make the production stage easier. If not, be creative, or ask for some advice. The purpose of promoting stickers should be to focus on attraction and awareness, creating a positive feeling towards your brand.

Exclusive Offers

Available for LINE@ Accounts and LINE Partners

Offering special discounts and promotions to LINE users who add your account as their friend is another common and effective LINE marketing strategy. It is very useful for B2C relationships, as companies can promote their LINE account in stores or online to offer discounts when users add them as a friend.

Once a LINE user adds a company’s account as a friend, they can directly receive discounts and promotional offers. Companies can send coupons and promotions to their followers via direct messages, and the users can instantly redeem them at stores or on websites. Think of it as a newsletter or a mailing list that can be sent and received instantly to your phone.

LINE Points Ads

Available for LINE Partners

Another promotional channel is through LINE Points, where users will have to do a specific task in order to receive LINE points in the app. Users will typically have to watch an advertisement, download an app, or add an account as a friend in exchange for LINE points. The points can be used to buy stickers, themes, and other customizable items within the app. LINE has dedicated packages for various goals, which can be very useful for marketers who are just starting out with their LINE accounts.

LINE’s Next Big Idea

LINE is constantly changing and improving the services it provides. Most of these new services provide more opportunities for companies to connect with LINE users. LINE is expanding into online gaming, taxi services, digital music streaming, and more. We’ll be keeping an eye on their offerings and thinking of unique ways to use them to help your brand connect with its Japanese audience.

Get Your Brand On LINE in Japan

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Use Different Approaches For LINE Messenger and LINE Timeline

What’s unique about LINE, compared to competitors, is that it serves two functions. LINE is a messenger and a social network all built into one app. When planning your marketing strategy for LINE, it is important to take a unique approach to both styles of user interaction and apply techniques that will work best in their respective mediums. To learn more about the dynamic between LINE Messenger and LINE Timeline, please check out our previous article that goes further into the details.

Create a Direct Marketing Plan for LINE Messenger Promotions

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LINE in Japan is primarily used as a direct social network, where users talk directly to one another in private messages and LINE chat rooms. Businesses with LINE accounts (Line@ or Official Accounts) can also communicate with LINE users in this manner. Once users add a company’s account as a LINE friend, they automatically opt-in to receiving messages from that account.

Communicating directly with LINE users via direct message is like a new-age direct mail service. Users are sent messages straight to their phones and have the added opportunity to interact immediately when they receive them. The trick is to provide content that is engaging and relevant for users, just like any other content marketing strategy.

LINE is a very casual form of communication for most users, and it allows companies to chat with their followers in the same manner that they would talk to their friends. Thus it is important to write content that feels individualized and genuine, as that is how LINE users are expecting to communicate with one another through direct messages.

Innovative Examples of Direct Social Marketing on LINE

Line official accounts allow companies to set up messaging protocols, which can handle tasks such as alerting users of important information and accepting requests from LINE users. For example, a movie rental shop (yes they still exist in Japan) can automatically send notifications to a user via LINE when their rental movie is due back. The messaging protocol can also act on requests like ordering a pizza or calling a cab.

A great example of using messaging protocols comes from the Japanese job-hunting service, “From A navi”, who uses their mascot, Ichiro Panda, to talk to users directly on LINE. (Check him out above!) Users can add Ichiro Panda as a friend and chat directly with him via LINE. An automated Ichiro Panda gives weather reports, sends stickers, and provides advice on finding a job with “From A navi”. Ichiro Panda has been largely successful, logging over 300 million individual conversations with customers. This campaign serves as a very innovative example of using technology to enhance consumers’ experiences with the company.

REMEMBER TO KEEP DIRECT MESSAGES PERSONAL

The important thing to remember is that your LINE communications should speak personally and directly to your customers, with the goal of directly helping them throughout your messaging. You have a unique chance to talk to them on a one-on-one basis, so don’t waste it by writing content that is too general and feels reproduced. Interact in a manner that is personal, helpful, and actionable, while delivering it in a unique and interesting way. It will help your LINE campaign become more successful in attracting and maintaining your followers, as well as encourage them to interact with you.

Create a Social Media Marketing Plan for LINE Timeline Promotions

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LINE’s secondary function is as a group social network via LINE Timeline. When someone follows a LINE@ or LINE official account, they will see posts from that account on their timeline. (You can see some examples above)

Timeline posts can include images, videos, text, and links that will be seen by LINE friends. Timeline users can also share posts from others on their own timelines, similar to a retweet on Twitter, or link them in private LINE chat rooms.

Many companies will post upcoming news and events, as well as shareable content and promotions on LINE timeline. It is important to remember that any links to outside websites shared on LINE timeline must be optimized for mobile, as an overwhelming majority of your Japanese viewers will be on smartphones.

An organic content strategy for LINE Timeline can be planned very similarly to other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Therefore visual elements and videos will gain more attention, and shock factor will encourage more shares and likes among users. Actually, just like Ichiro Panda, cute factor is just as effective as shock factor for Japanese audiences.

Advertising on LINE Timeline

LINE has also added targeted advertising via the timeline function. They offer web, app, and video ads which have slightly different formats to fit the advertiser’s needs. All three options provide clickable areas optimized to encourage engagement. Ads are also likable and sharable, which helps them spread organically amongst users.

Take A Two-Sided Approach to LINE in Japan

One must consider the differences in user interactions and expectations when planning content for LINE. Direct messaging must be interesting and personal, speaking to users in a manner that they would speak with their friends. Group communications on LINE timeline can be executed similarly to other social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, with wide-ranging messages and impactful content that will encourage shares among users.

As LINE is the biggest social network in Japan, promoting on the app can be a great opportunity to gain exposure in the country. With proper planning of direct and group social content, your company can connect with millions of users. If you are interested in promoting your company on LINE in Japan, please contact us for a free consultation on how to make the most of your efforts.

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