I started writing on Medium in both English and Japanese in March 2019.
Medium is a blogging service, but actually, it is more than that. They say it is a network where you can connect to the people and writers to communicate and discuss. What makes it unique from other social media is that there is no advertisement on it, although you can write for free of charge. How they make money is they charge on readers. You can read all of the posts on it for $5 per month.
I also have registered on Patreon, which is a platform supporting creators, a kind of crowdfunding. I can post my articles on this platform as well, just like a blog, and there is no ad, either. I think both of these platforms, Medium, and Patreon are quite nice and useful. Especially like Patreon, there are not many support systems for all kinds of creators as long as I know. In fact, there used to be a platform similar to Patreon in Japan, called “CHIP,” which didn’t work well and closed in April.
However, I realised that both of them are not popular at all among the Japanese. There used to be “Medium Japan,” though they ended up finishing service in February 2017 (they stopped the activity on Twitter and Facebook, still we can use the platform itself in Japanese). There must have been some Japanese people using it when it was active, but after they finished, there are not many active Japanese users anymore.
I know why it is, even though those platforms are doing so well outside Japan. It’s because of the language barrier.
Both Medium and Patreon is based on English. I am not only talking about their dashboard or setting, but also about the majority of users. On Medium, if you only understand Japanese, your community will be so tiny, you could feel almost alone.
On Patreon, I imagine that most users speak English and not many can understand Japanese. So, if you write as a creator in Japanese only, it will be difficult to find a patron. It is a shame because there must be many great Japanese creators who don’t speak English, and also potential patrons who are Japanese culture lovers willing to support them, I think.
When it comes to other socials, Linkedin is also the one that is not so popular in Japan while it is getting more and more users outside. Personally, I don’t use it, either. I used it sometimes when I was in Hong Kong, but the duration was not long. It is social media specific to business or your carrier if I remember correctly. I think it is because there are not many people in Japan who want to change their job or want to start own business if they have a chance. That’s why people don’t find it very useful.
So, what is the most powerful social media in Japan, now? I have been blogging for more than 4 years, also have been using several social apps. I have a feeling that Twitter and Line, which is developed in Japan, are currently the ones that most Japanese people use.
It is interesting when you think about the fact that Americans use Twitter less and less. It is all about people’s choice and preference, not because it is limited by the government like China.
It takes time to get spread something new in Japan, particularly in the technology industry. When I was in Hong Kong (before 2014), Facebook was so strong that almost everybody around me had their accounts. Still, when I went back to Japan, it seemed that nobody used it, or even nobody knew what Facebook was.
People are often sceptical about something that they don’t know, needless to say about new technology. Plus, the language problem is always sitting there.
A day after I posted this, LINE just announced that they launched a new service “LINE Score,” which provides a user-scoring function (Credit scoring and loyalty program system is already getting popular in China).
If you are high scored, you will get benefits, for example, you may use a car-sharing service for a better price, you can book hotels prior to the others, or even you can borrow some money with a lower interest. They are also going to start “LINE Pocket Money” this summer, which is a kind of consumer loan.