Japan: A Social Media “Explosion”

A seminar entitled “Explosive Social Media” held at the Jiji Press Hall in Tokyo last Tuesday brought together people from various sectors of the business world interested in finding out about the explosive potential of social media in Japan. Named after the title of a book by one of the presenters, the seminar featured presentations about “social media optimization,” social networking, the future of Second Life, and the “Web 2.0 paradigm.” The promotional blurb for the event on the website of the Jiji Press Co. reads:

ブログ、SNS、Second Life(セカンドライフ)、YouTube・・・。こうしたユーザー参加型サイトは、CGM(消費者発信型メディア)と呼ばれることが多かったが、最近はソーシャルメディアと呼ばれるようになってきている。英語の頭文字という、いかにも技術者向け用語から、より一般ビジネスピープル向けの言葉になっている証拠だろう。

Blogs, Social Network Services, Second Life, YouTube… These kinds of sites with end-user participation have often been called CGM (Consumer-Generated Media), but recently they are being referred to as Social Media. This is perhaps evidence [of a change]: from a term composed of English capital letters, and oriented toward tech specialists, to a word for general business people.


One of the characteristics of social media is that the number of users rises to an explosive degree. If the momentum continues as it is now, nobody will be able to deny the possibility that its influence will surpass that of the mass media. How then, if the influence of social media grows explosively, should public relations companies, advertising companies and marketing companies change, and how should they alter their business strategies?

One of the presenters at the seminar was president of the Internet PR company news2u and blogger Kanbara Minako, who blogged at her own site about the event, noting the potential of social media in the near future:


Google, the company which attracted attention for its search technology around the year 2000, was only recognized by the general public after the year 2003. This was just at the moment when they established a means to make money. When a way for social media to make money is established, I am sure that it too will “explode”.

Kanbara Minako was earlier interviewed by the author of “Explosive Social Media,” Yukawa Tsuruaki, who wrote in the JiJi Press Co. blog:


The amount of information being transmitted from social media, exemplified by blogs and social network services, is increasing at an explosive rate. In this context, how should companies transmit their information?

早くから企業のネットPR支援を手がけてきた株式会社ニューズ・ツー・ユー の神原弥奈子氏は、情報が洪水状態に陥ると信頼性を確認するために一次情報にアクセスするようになると予測する。そうした時代に向け企業は今から正確な一次情報を出し続けるべきで、社長や従業員がブログなどを通じて多面的な情報を大量に発信するかどうかが企業の信頼性につながる時代になる、と同氏は主張する。

Kanbara Minako of the News2u Co., who has been assisting companies in their online public relations from early on, is predicting that, as we reach a state in which we are flooded with information, people will begin accessing primary information in order to confirm credibility. She stresses that, in orienting themselves toward this new age, companies need to start regularly releasing accurate primary information, as there is a connection between whether a company transmits a large amount of multifaceted information — through company president and employee blogs, etc. — and the company's credibility.

同氏に、これからの時代のネットPRについて話を聞いた。(聞き手 時事通信編集委員・余談ですが、ブログで『踊れ!グローズヌイ』の紹介をしてくださっているのを見ました。実は、私はアムネスティのキャンペーンチームコーディネーター(名ばかりですが…)で、この映画の上映会もなどもチームで担当しているので、とてもうれしいです。)

[In this interview,] I talked with Kanbara Minako about the coming age of Internet public relations. (Interviewer: Jiji Press Co. editing committee member Yukawa Tsuruaki )

The following is the transcript of the interview:


As we enter the age of social media, have there been any changes in the way businesses transmit their information?


The net is a place where every business and individual can transmit information. We are now in what is called the age of social media, but social media is not particularly new to News2u. [This company's] original concept was very close [to the idea of social media].


Currently, speaking of social media optimization, there is a lot of talk about functionality, functions for bookmarking, etc. However, social media comes before this, with the offering of information. The first steps are blogging and [offering] news releases.


Recently, (generally-speaking) [people have become] good at making use of information. Up until now there was a single mindset: that the transmission of information was done by the mass media. As businesses have started actively transmitting information that was formerly only available to a limited group of people in a particular niche, the flow of information has been enhanced. Even in 5 or 10 years, the information on blogs and news releases will still be useful for people who need it.


What exactly do you mean?


Concepts like net archiving and permalinks are growing widespread. This means that blog entries and news releases are being stored as back-issues. As these things increase over time, they become a resource. What I notice about this resource is that, as news items are one by one being circulated on the net, contact points with companies’ information are being scattered across the net. Social media is one of these powerful contact points, I think.


Do people ever really access old blog entries?


The popular entries on my blog in Febuary and March were called “Sayonara to Our Daycare”. Those were blog entries that I wrote last year when my child finished daycare. When the period at which children finish day nursery came around again this year, there were some people who accessed these entries and read them. Blog entries continue to have effects semi-permanently.


Businesses leave a footstep and historical record of their business activities. It will be a characteristic of the age we are entering that, for businesses that transmit their information on an ongoing basis, transmission of information equates to credibility.


Why is that?


Companies that transmit lots of information will be more easily understandable to the people who receive this information. Not only news releases, but also company president blogs, PR blogs, employee blogs, all of these will allow people to see many different sides of the company and more easily understand it.


Lastly, how do you think companies should cope with the age of social media?


I think that they should release credible primary information. People who are highly information-literate will try to confirm this information. Because this primary information will become more and more important [in the future], it is necessary that companies provide pipelines to transmit it.

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