The communication application LINE was launched in Japan in 2011 and subsequently taken the country by storm. Line became Japan’s largest social network in 2013, bigger than Facebook or Twitter. It is one of only 13 apps to have more than 1 million downloads from the Google Play store. According a survey, about 60% of Japanese college students use LINE every day.
The application offers users free text chat, group chat, phone calls, video calls, games, photo editing and a growing range of other services.
The unique feature which separates it from other similar online communication tools like Skype or Viber is the use of “stickers”. For just 200 JPY users can purchase sets of 40 stickers featuring unique characters. Think “emoticons on steroids”. Young Japanese users love the “cute-ness” aspect but also the efficiency of communicating nuanced information through a single image.
The LINE it! Button for Website Promotion
The LINE it! Button enables LINE users to easily share websites with Friends and Groups. The button will only be visible on mobile devices. Clicking the button will open LINE app on the user’s device and they will be asked who they want to share the web page with. If users post to a Group page they can choose between the Group board or the Group chat thread.
To get the code to embed in your website, go to the official LINE page or simply copy and paste this code for the 76px by 20px button version:
Add Followers to your LINE Account
If you have a small business you can download the App and open a LINE account (free). Customers can add you to their LINE contacts in two ways.
a) LINE ID – Users can use the Search function to type in your LINE account name and add you to their friends and groups lists manually.
b) QR Code – Every LINE account has an associated QR code which you can embed into your Website, Social Media page or printed materials. The mobile App comes with a scanner for reading the QR codes and automatically registering in friends lists.
LINE Creators Market
LINE Creators Market is a brand new platform on which all LINE users can sell their original stickers on the LINE Web Store , regardless of their occupation or age, and whether they are professionals, amateurs, individuals, or businesses. LINE’s stickers so far have only featured LINE’s original characters, famous mascots, and corporate-sponsored stickers. Now, LINE is opening up the chance to produce stickers for and sell them to its user base of 370 million people worldwide.
So is this an opportunity for small business to do some guerilla marketing? Can you hire a graphic artist to create some branded character stickers?
Well regrettably – NO. According to the Creators Market Guidelines.
Stickers for sale may not be used for advertising purposes. Please do not include any form of advertisement in the sticker images, titles, and text descriptions, such as the announcements of product release dates, or submit stickers featuring only corporate logos.
Official Corporate Accounts
LINE has a few dozen “official” accounts which also offer “sponsored” stickers. Examples are companies like Coca-Cola and Mr Donuts. LINE corporate customers have access to the LINE Business Connect API. This allows bigger companies to use the application for one way message promotion, as a CRM tool, online ordering or infinite other uses. Feel like a pizza? Just send a LINE sticker to your favorite pizza company.
But official corporate accounts aren’t realistic for most small to medium size businesses. It costs several million yen just to open an account.
If your target market is Japanese users then you should definately consider ways that you can leverage LINE as a social media promotion tool. Feel free to contact Tokyo Web Designs if you’d like to know more about this or other aspects of Japanese web marketing.