How Does Japanese Twitter Use Differ from Western Twitter Use?


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How Different is Twitter Use in Japan?

Here it is in a nutshell:

  1. Engagement with Japanese tweets are more affected by Social Authority levels than are Western language tweets.
  2. Use of Hashtags, links, and longer tweet length have an even greater positive impact than they do in Western language tweets.

In December we published our study on Twitter Engagement, with a focus on tweets done in Western languages. At the same time, we had also obtained over 1.1 Million tweets that were in Japanese. This left us with a question – how does Twitter usage in Japanese differ from the Western countries? Upon examination, it turns out that there are some pretty interesting differences!

Out of our 1.1 million tweets, 901,760 were original tweets (the rest were Retweets or Replies).

Social Authority

For Western languages, we saw a marked increase in engagement as an accounts Social Authority increased. The Japanese tweets showed the same trend, but the difference between lower and higher authority tweeters was even greater than we saw for Western tweets:

4 social authority

If you look at authority levels from 1 – 49, the increase in the likelihood of getting Retweets is very nominal for the Japanese tweets, but it leaps upward at a very sharp rate from 50 through 89.


Among tweets in Western languages, we saw very significant gains in engagement as a result of including images with your tweets. This same trend was repeated with Japanese tweets, though the degree of gain was even more dramatic, except at the very lowest authority levels:

Imaged Drive a Gain in Total RTs

Among Western tweets the low authority people could get as much as 9 times as many RTs as a result of incorporating an image. At the lowest authority levels the increase in RTs was less than Western, but then the total Retweets rockets up to as much as 19 times more RTs.

The bottom line is that for most Japanese profiles, images are an even bigger deal than it is for Western profiles.

Hashtags and Links

Western tweets with hashtags showed a gain in the chances of getting Retweeted at least once of about 50%. This was fairly significant, but the impact in Japan was far greater as shown in this chart (3x as great a chance of being Retweeted):

Hashtags Increase Chances of RTs

Including a link in your tweet seemed to also show a more dramatic impact:

Links Increase Chances of RTs

In fact, if you compare the total number of Retweets received, it was far greater for Japanese tweets than Western ones. For Western tweets, at many levels of Social Authority, links actually reduce total Retweets. In Japan the story is quite different, as including a link can provide a significant multiplier in total RTs:

Images Drive Gains in Total RTs

Time of Day and Tweet Length

One of the shocking conclusions from our original study on Western languages was that time of day seemed to have no impact. The story is not much different in Japan:

Time of Day Does Not Impact Twitter Engagement

As with Western languages, longer tweets appear to get more engagement:

Longer Tweets Get More RTs and Favorites

However, for Western languages the tweets that are 131 to 140 characters have about a 2x greater chance of getting Retweeted than tweets that are 0 to 40 characters long. The impact is much more dramatic for Japanese tweets where 131 to 140 character tweets are 7x more likely to get one or more RTs than a 0 to 40 character long tweet.


Mentions were shown to have a negative impact on total engagement for Western tweets, and this story was also seen with Japanese tweets:

Including Mentions Reduces Total Retweets


There are two major conclusions to be drawn from this study:

1. Engagement at lower authority levels is lower than it is for Western language tweets. To start getting significant levels of engagement in Japan, you really need to start achieving Social Authority levels of 60 and higher.

2. Other factors seem to have a larger impact in Japanese tweets than they do with Western ones. This was true for images, links, hashtags, and tweet length. Longer tweets that include a hashtag, a link, and an image looks like a master formula for multiplying engagement.

As we discussed in our write up of the Western Language Study, this does not mean you should go do these things artificially, or try to do them in every tweet.

Just know that if including an image, link, hashtag, or longer tweet makes sense, than implementing those things is something you should strive to do. In addition, since the impact of images is so large, they really merit some serious design effort to have the maximum effect.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Enge
Eric Enge is a partner at Stone Temple Consulting (STC), which has been providing SEO Consulting services for over 5 years. STC has worked with a wide range of clients, ranging from small silicon valley start-ups, to Fortune 25 companies. Eric is also co-author of The Art of SEO book.


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