Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The social media trends for today's Japanese dramas

With social media channels being a key tool in PR efforts especially for brands and companies, many Japanese dramas now have dedicated official accounts, sometimes even across different channels. However, not all of these channels deliver the same kind of results especially when you consider that one channel may be more speedy in soliciting responses while one may offer ease in seeing past posts and another can offer a more satisfying experience in visual media. Coupled with limitations such as the number of staff who man these channels or copyright restrictions e.g. the ban on Johnny's artistes' photos in the past, it can be really difficult in navigating these channels to ensure that there is a good return on the cost incurred such as in terms of time spent managing them and how to engage users with quality content. Just posting announcements to remind viewers to tune in for the broadcasts is simply not enough and a waste of such social media channels.

Besides these factors to consider, the target audience's social media habits and reasons for choosing one channel over another may affect the social media strategy of the TV stations. You may have noticed that the same TV station may open different social media channels for each of their dramas whereas some do the same for all their offerings.

Based on the recent survey conducted on Dorama World's Facebook and Twitter pages - thank you to everyone who responded, here are some observations I made based on the comments and the poll results:
- 81.2% of the Twitter followers indicated that they would choose to follow the Twitter accounts only when they wanted to keep track of official updates about Japanese dramas. However, among the Facebook followers who responded, the selection was a lot more varied with some sticking to Facebook only while others liked to use FB along with Instagram and/or Twitter. Seems like "brand loyalty" or rather "platform loyalty" is a lot stronger on Twitter.

- Surprisingly, none of the Spring 2021 dramas had an official Facebook page which seems to suggest that it was probably no longer worth setting up this from the perspective of the TV stations when the follower numbers are likely to be much smaller. Also, we have to consider the fact that these official accounts are primarily targeted at the Japanese viewers and Twitter is a very powerful and popular social media channel there. 

- With regard to the reasons why Twitter followers tended to choose Twitter only, here are the key factors: 
* Convenience - posts are presented chronologically as compared to Facebook or Instagram
* Consumes less mobile data compared to other channels
* Does not use any other social media channel besides Twitter
* More detailed information
* Information is spread faster compared to other channels
* More dramas tend to have a Twitter account

- As for the Facebook followers, many have indicated that Twitter is largely about text so they prefer other channels like Instagram for visually-rich content such as photos and videos.

In line with these observations, you can see a similar trend in the way TV stations are developing their social media strategy. 

I have compiled the follower numbers for all the Spring 2021 dramas across different channels where they must meet this criteria:
- has at least one designated account on one of these social media channels i.e. Instagram, LINE or Twitter

- NHK and WOWOW dramas have been left out of this analysis owing to the fact that these TV stations have a general social media channel for their works but no designated ones for each title.
- In addition, please take note that all numbers were taken as of 21 Apr 2021 and may be subject to change by the time you view this article or visit the corresponding social media channels.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of strategies being deployed by the TV stations:
* Single-platform approach (highlighted in yellow)
* Double-platform approach (no highlight)
* Triple-platform approach (highlighted in beige)

First of all, let's look at the dramas which have a single-platform-approach and coincidentally (or not), their unanimous choice is Twitter. Interestingly, TV Tokyo's offerings are mostly in this category except for "Tantei Hoshikamo" which is taking a double-platform approach. In terms of reach, TV Tokyo's offerings have less than 10K followers while "Tokusou 9 Season 4" and "Ichikei no Karasu" have more than 50K and 30K followers respectively. However, do note that "Tokusou 9" has been using the same Twitter account since it started while "Ichikei" is a brand new drama so the higher number of followers for the former should include those accumulated from previous seasons.

Coming to those which have a double-platform approach, you can see that the same combination was selected across every title i.e. Instagram and Twitter. As pointed out earlier, users tend to go to Twitter for more text content while Instagram is the preferred choice for visual media. By applying a two-pronged approach, they can target different users by implementing some form of differentiation between both channels and meeting unique needs of each platform's users.

Last but not least, the triple-platform approach is an add-on from the double-platform by incorporating LINE in the strategy. Generally speaking, LINE is the top communication app used among Japanese viewers so it is no surprise that they choose this over other similar apps like WhatsApp or KakaoTalk. However, if you look at the numbers, it seems that the number of followers is still on the low side when compared to the other channels but this may have the potential to grow especially among people who likes the content to be "pushed" to them via LINE instead of having to search or check for it on Twitter or Instagram. Personally, I get rather annoyed when I get too many notifications so I've resorted to turning the notifications off for some of the very active accounts I follow.

If you look at the choices across the TV stations, it appears that:
- FujiTV seems to have a tendency to "customise" its strategy for each title - with 1 drama having 1 platform and the other having 2. "Omameda Towako" is technically under Kansai TV so it's likely that the choice to have 3 platforms for this title is not so much influenced by FujiTV.
- TV Asahi favours the double-platform approach and is applying it uniformly across the board.
- TBS' minimum standard is at least 2 platforms with "Kikazaru" bucking the trend with another platform on LINE.
- NTV has always had a tendency to use LINE for its dramas but this season, "Nemesis" is the only one without a LINE account.

In terms of total follower numbers, the top two which adopt a triple-platform-approach, do have a slight advantage. However, even without the 16K or 17K from LINE, their strong following on Instagram alone would have beaten those ranked No.4 and below. Interestingly, "Koi wa Deep ni" has 3 times more followers on Instagram as compared to its Twitter account and "Kikazaru" has a similar trend of 2 times more followers on Instagram. This seems to suggest that most of its social media followers are inclined towards visual content rather than text. On the other hand, "Nemesis" which is ranked at No.3, has almost the same numbers on both Instagram and Twitter (133K vs. 123K) so that's why it ranks high at No.3 even though it has 110K less followers on Instagram as compared to "Koi wa Deep ni".

When you compare the average numbers for all platforms, you can see that some of the extreme values at both ends of the spectrum have skewed the average to a large extent. For example, the average value of Instagram followers is 69,316 but this means that only the top 4 would have been performing above this level. Likewise, the average figure of 43,035 for Twitter would mean that only 8 out of 18 titles would be performing above average. As the sample size for LINE is too small and the figures are too extreme, we will skip this part for the analysis.

Alternatively, if we are to take the median values, it gives a clearer picture on which social media accounts are doing fine. For Instagram, the median value is 49,886 so "Koi wa Deep ni", "Kikazaru", "Nemesis", "Dragonzakura 2", "Konto ga hajimaru", "Kotaroo wa hitorigurashi" and "Omameda Towako" can be considered to be doing well. 

As for Twitter, the median value of 29,724 would mean that "Nemesis". "Koi wa Deep ni", "Dragonzakura 2", "Konto ga hajimaru", Kikazaru", "Tokusou 9", "Kotaroo wa hitorigurashi" and "Omameda Towako" would be considered as performing above average.

What we can conclude is that the top 7's social media strategies seem to be working out as they are all performing above average for each of their channels. "Rikokatsu" failed to make the cut in terms of individual channels but when combined, the total number somehow helped it to stay above the median value of 55,302 for total numbers. "Tokusou 9" despite relying on just 1 channel, is still able to perform above the median while its counterparts with the same strategy all did not exceed the median.

As such, it does appear that in order to make sure that the social media strategy can at least stay at or above the median, it pays not to put all your eggs into one basket. With varied needs from users for different types of content, it may be more worthwhile to pursue a strategy that employs more than 1 platform. Then again, the other option of having more than 2 platforms may not work out as well since LINE only contributes marginally to the total. It might be more efficient to devote resources to two platforms only just like "Nemesis" which is just around 5,000 shy of the total achieved by No.2 "Kikazaru" that has 3 channels. 

Of late, a small number of dramas have branched out into video sites like TikTok and YouTube which still remains a niche area for most so it remains to be seen if they can become the third most popular social media channel choice or LINE can continue to hold on to this position. Or there may be a new challenger in time to come. For now, Twitter and Instagram looks like the popular choice for most.

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