More Japanese Users Logging On To Facebook

By Justin Lafferty 

For years, Mixi has been the social media site of choice in Japan. But new reports suggest that Facebook could overtake Mixi by the end of the year, thanks to The Social Network and a model that promotes more sharing of information.

According to the latest Nielsen/NetRatings survey (note: link is in Japanese), Facebook had 17.2 million Japanese users in May — and that figure has been steadily increasing. Mixi, by comparison, had about 20 million Japanese users.

Here’s a chart showing the steady increase of Japanese membership:

On Mixi, users are largely anonymous. The same is definitely not true for Facebook, which places a premium on sharing as much personal information as possible. Japanese Mixi users have grown tired of messages from people they don’t know, opting for Facebook, where they can see exactly who is who.

Facebook also gained a huge popularity boost with The Social Network, which spent two weeks in January 2011 as the top movie in Japan. It also grossed nearly $17 million in Japan, most of any country outside of America. A Facebook spokesperson told New Scientist that until that movie came out, few people in Japan had heard of Facebook.

More Japanese residents flocked to Facebook after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. After cell phone towers and telephone lines were destroyed, Internet channels remained the most reliable way to keep in touch. People set up groups and pages to spread information. Additionally, many people used Facebook in that time as a vehicle for donations to help those affected by the tragedy.

Japanese users are also growing hip to Facebook as a job searching tool, according to Japanese college student Ayumi Matsuda:

I heard that companies not only seek out potential recruits through Facebook, but even advertise jobs. The employment situation for graduates is getting harsher, so this kind of feature gives Facebook users a bit of a head start … The like button is simple, but very clever. It doesn’t require a lot of thought but has a certain emotional meaning attached to it. If someone likes one of my photos, it puts a spring in my step.

Readers: Do you think Facebook will overtake Mixi as Japan’s social network of choice by the end of the year?

Chart courtesy of Nielsen/NetRatings.