Marketing On Threads in Japan – Is It Worth the Gamble?

Posted By Jim Kersey

With over 150 million users after just 7 days of its launch, Meta’s latest Threads platform became the most rapidly expanding online platform ever. And while Japan stands among its top markets for sign-ups, businesses and marketers remain unsure if it’s worth it. 

In this article, we delve into the platform’s initial reception and potential obstacles to widespread adoption within the context of Japan’s distinct cultural nuances and unique social media landscape.

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Japan’s Reaction to Threads So Far

Initial figures show that India, Brazil and the US are Threads’ top markets for downloads, but Japan isn’t far behind with over 7 million app downloads by July 12th 2023.

*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.


That said, an initial review of the platform shows that only a handful of major brands in Japan are operating on the platform, including the likes of FamilyMart and Lawson (two of Japan’s all-time top Twitter accounts).

Learn More About Japan’s Social Media Landscape in 2023

Are Top Japanese Influencers Using Threads?

Although many famous faces have yet to sign up for a Threads account, including the likes of Rola and Kiko Mizuhara, several of Japan’s biggest influencers have already made the move, albeit with lower initial followings than on their other social platforms.

*Tap or Hover on the graph below to see details.

Discover Japan’s Top Influencers and Content Creators in 2023

Will Threads be Popular in Japan – Key Considerations

Man experimenting with new features on Threads in Japan

From cultural considerations to competition with established local platforms, below are some key factors that are likely to influence whether Threads will be a top social media platform in Japan.

Loyalty to Twitter

Japanese consumers are renowned for their steadfast brand loyalty and cautious attitude towards adopting new products and services.

Consequently, both Japanese brands and social media users may be feeling reluctant to embrace Threads, mainly due to the nation’s strong attachment to Twitter and their fondness for existing relationships and communities on the channel.

Surprisingly, Japan has emerged as Twitter’s second-largest market, surpassing even Facebook in popularity, a trend that diverges from the global norm.

HB Pro Tip: Although loyalty is an essential aspect of Japanese culture and is deeply ingrained in their social values and business practices, younger generations, influenced by global trends and the digital age, may be more inclined to change to new platforms and technologies.

Easy migration from Instagram

Getting started with Threads is straightforward with an existing Instagram account. Given that Instagram has over 49 million users in Japan, this is significant.

All people need to do is download the Threads app on Android via Google Play or the Apple App Store for iOS, log in with their Instagram credentials before making a few simple set-up decisions such as whether to make their profiles private and which of their current community they want to follow.

This is a tactic that seems to have paid off for Meta, encouraging early user adoption by making the sign-up experience swift and convenient for its huge existing audience.

Japan’s Tendency to Buck Trends

The Japanese social media landscape has some distinct characteristics that set it apart from social media trends in other countries.

For instance, Facebook and LinkedIn are not as popular in Japan as they are in other nations. LINE, however particular, is an incredibly popular messaging app that offers various features beyond text messaging, such as stickers, games, and official accounts for businesses and celebrities.

Given that users are already spending large amounts of time on competitor platforms, it’s likely that success for newer entrants will be difficult.

Uncertainty Avoidance

Risk and uncertainty avoidance are significant aspects of Japanese society and culture. Japan is known for its collective and high-context culture, which emphasizes harmony, stability, and adherence to established norms.

As a result, Japanese society can tend to make risk-averse consumer decisions, seeking to minimize uncertainty where possible.

This often extends to the assimilation of new technology and digital platforms, making it likely that many individuals are waiting for peers and wider society to start using Threads before giving it a try themselves.

HB Pro Tip: Reaching a critical mass of users in 2023 will be a huge determining factor in Threads’ long-term popularity. Brands who are uncertain about investing in the channel may want to keep an eye out for app download figures that rival the likes of Twitter, LINE and Instagram.

Discover Top Japanese Advertising Design Trends

Marketing On Threads in Japan

Mobile phone displaying Threads in Japan against Twitter background

Marketers don’t currently have the option to purchase ad space on Threads in Japan. However, the Instagram team have announced they are working on making their branded content tools available in the not-too-distant future, assuming the platform gains enough followers to make this viable.

Until this time, brands, marketers and influencers are advised to clearly disclose paid partnerships by using hashtags or transparent copy.

Connect with Your Instagram Audience

Threads makes it simple to bring your existing followers over from Instagram. You’ll have the option to send follower requests to your existing followers upon signing up, and new users will do the same, keeping your target audience consistent.

This strategy will help to jumpstart your account with a substantial base of followers, meaning you don’t need to start from scratch.

Consider Playful and Interactive Content

The new Threads algorithm is still a bit of a mystery to marketers, but this also presents opportunities during its early stages to embrace the “looseness” of the platform and publish content that is playful and interactive.

Although many brands are playing it safe, repurposing content directly from their Twitter feeds, now might be the best time to experiment with new and unpolished content that can drive engagement and interest in your account before competition increases.

Cultivating communities and relationships with your audience early could benefit you if Threads eventually becomes one of Japan’s top social media platforms.

HB Pro Tip: There’s less pressure to share the “right” content or have a perfect Threads strategy yet — especially if you’re not investing large amounts of time or resources into the platform. This can make it a great time to test different styles and approaches with your content.

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Should I Start Using Threads in Japan?

Woman in park trying Threads in Japan

One potential advantage for brands is the relatively low competition on Threads’ in Japan. Before greater numbers of brands, influencers and users migrate, it could be an excellent time to establish a strong presence.

However, although early indications are positive, global adoption of the Threads app has slowed down somewhat since its earlier days and it’s still difficult to determine how it will be positioned within Japan’s diverse SM landscape in months and years to come.

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