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