For better understanding of cultural influence on social networks I choose to focus on a country with somewhat extreme cultural influence- Japan. Japan is one of the most developed countries to show presence in the blogsphere. In terms of blog posts by language, Japanese generate 37% of all posts (where English takes only 36% of them all).
Japan, which is the leading country on the blogsphere, is far behind when it comes to social networks. In IPsos report Japan seems to maintain a relative low frequency of visitation to social networking websites. (see graph 1 – only 9% visited a SN in the last 30 days, 13% in more than 30 days).
goo Research (via whatjapanthinks) published a survey which provides another evidence: about 63% of the survey respondents using social networks sites never added another person to a social network!
As some of you may know, mixi (the largest social network in Japan, attracting 11.1 million people) is a social network with an “invitation only” participation. That been said, I wonder what potential spread this platform holds when the majority of participants are reluctant to add new friends).
Does it say much about Japanese difficulties to socially interact with others? Probably it does. Blogs, unlike social networks, are individual communication platforms. In blogs, Japanese feel free to express themselves and are not committed to initiate any social interactions. The current form of open social networks is probably not fit to hold the Japanese social behavior. No wonder a new Japanese version of Second Life (Meet-Me) is predicted to be a success.
What can we learn about Japanese online users? What can explain their barrier to add new friends? Is it that they wish to be kept as a close community? or is it that cultural restrains as shyness to reach out, or a respect towards other’s privacy, bring them to withdraw from adding new friends?