LINE was created in March 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and was released to the public in June of the same year. It became quickly popular and LINE developed more and more features for its users. It is possible to make free video and voice calls, to use stickers, to send messages, photos, gifs, videos, voice messages or even money.
Brands or artists can also have an official account, which will enable LINE users to follow them. To be able to interact with users, businesses need to pay a fee to get a LINE@ ACCOUNT or a LINE partner account. If users add these official accounts to their contact lists, they will be able to get their latest news, coupons or even stamps of their mascots. You can see below two examples of Japanese brands sending information about their products. The first is the official account of Toho Cinemas, a chain of movie theaters in Japan, which sends weekly its subscribers information about new movies released in their theaters as well as a ranking of the most popular movies of the week. Since it is also possible to send videos in chats, users also receive new trailers directly in LINE. Then, by clicking on the movie’s pictures sent by Toho Cinemas, it is possible to book directly the seats for the movie in the nearest theater! On the right, this is a screenshot of Suntory, a famous brewing company. They use LINE to introduce their newest drinks, and to send their commercial videos directly to their followers.
In Japan, there are more than 75 million active users monthly on LINE, so it is a real need for businesses to advertise their brands on this platform. When a brand creates its account, they can use stickers to get more followers quickly. This is a promotion tool that is very specific to LINE. It is possible for businesses to sell their stickers in the dedicated shop, but if they want to get followers to be able to send them information, they will rather choose to offer their stickers for free… if the user follows their account. It is of course possible for users to delete the account once they got the stickers for free, but it seems to be a proven method to get followers. You can see below examples of stickers offered for free in exchange of a follow of their account, in this case Expedia and Japanese skincare brand skinvill.
By sending discounts and information about their business, about new products, brands can really build a connection with their followers. LINE is a very interesting tool, because, as it is originally a messaging app, it combines the one-to-one aspect, where users can feel privileged, with the social network aspect. Users also have a timeline, where they can post what they want and where they can see advertisements. To display their ads in users’ timeline, companies can target users to show their contents to a chosen audience. This works the same way as targeting on other main social media.
If you want to promote your brand in Japan, LINE is a media you cannot avoid. With more than 75 million users only in Japan (compared to Facebook’s almost 30 million users), this is where your target is more likely to be. A very unique approach is necessary to reach your potential customers, whether you choose to reach them on a one-to-one basis or by displaying ads in their timeline. Build your strategy and open your brand’s LINE account now!