Connection in business

LinkedIn: Challenges in Expanding to Japan

LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, has successfully connected millions of professionals worldwide, yet it has faced significant challenges in expanding its presence in Japan. When international businesses first entered the Japanese market, they chose LinkedIn as their focused SNS platform and quickly noticed it did not perform as well as they first anticipated.
Currently, there are around 3 million LinkedIn users in Japan. For comparison, X(Twitter) has over 45 million users. Though the number of LinkedIn users is slowly increasing, they are still not as known in Japan.
There are several factors as to why LinkedIn is not as popular as other SNS platforms.

Delayed Localization and Its Compatibility with Facebook

LinkedIn launched in 2003 in the States, but it was late 2011 when it was made available in Japanese. By the time LinkedIn adopted its services to the Japanese market, Japanese users had already embraced other social platforms, like Facebook, which came out in 2008 and quickly catered to their preferences and culture.
The dominance of Facebook in Japan has played a significant role in stifling LinkedIn’s growth. Facebook, with its more flexible approach to personal and professional sharing, quickly gained popularity among Japanese users. Many individuals and businesses have turned to Facebook for networking and communication needs, reducing the interest for them to switch to LinkedIn.

Self-promotion and Japanese Characteristics

LinkedIn’s emphasis on personal branding and self-promotion did not match Japanese characteristics. Japanese culture places a significant value on modesty, humility, and group cohesion. The self-promotion and display of personal accomplishments on LinkedIn seemed in contrast to these cultural values, leading many Japanese professionals to find the platform a little too forward.

A Preference for Privacy in Business Matters

Japanese professionals tend to be more discreet when it comes to sharing their career-related information and job changes. LinkedIn encourages transparency and openness, advising users to publicly share their work history and connect with colleagues. In Japan, there is a preference for maintaining a level of privacy regarding professional matters, making LinkedIn’s features less compatible with local sensibilities.

That being said, LinkedIn is getting some traction and gaining users recently, especially global professionals in Japan.
From the marketing perspective, we need to know exactly who we are targeting and see if the persona aligns with the Japanese LinkedIn audience to utilize this platform to our advantage.

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