Blogging Cultures in Japan and India

For our May joint-post Dr. Amit and I chose to discuss the blogging culture in India and Japan and how blogging plays a role in personal branding.

Blogging Japanese Style

While the Japanese may have been slower at embracing social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, they quickly jumped on board to blogging when it became popular in the country from 2002. Since then, Japanese have slightly edged out English in becoming the dominant language of the blogosphere. Pretty amazing considering that English speakers worldwide outnumber Japanese speakers by over 5 to 1. Here are some interesting factoids about blogging in the Land of the Rising Sun.

  • While 40% of English-language bloggers blog to raise their visibility as thought-leaders, only 5% of Japanese bloggers are motivated by the same reason.
  • Americans blog to stand out, make a point, or complain. Japanese blog to fit in and keep a record of their thoughts.
  • Compared with Americans, Japanese write at less length but write much more often.
  • Japanese are 5 times as likely as Americans, the British or French to read a blog every week, but less likely to actually act on what they read.
  • Japan is the largest and most active blogging culture in their world with 37% of the world’s blog posts being in Japanese.

These facts are interesting for sure, but another cultural behavior ingrained in Japanese from a young age has had a more direct impact on their blogging culture.

A ‘Diary’ Culture

Every day when my 7-year-old bicultural daughter comes home from school here in Kyoto, Japan, my wife tells her to sit down and do her “nikki” homework. “Nikki” is Japanese for “diary” and every Japanese child from first grade to about sixth grade is required to keep a pen-and-paper diary particularly during summer and winter breaks. My daughter writes about every day simple things, which matches the blogging tendency in Japan to write about small stuff – pets, meals, hobbies, favorite TV stars. Before blogging even became popular in Japan, Japanese carried forward the tradition of writing “nikki” into their adult lives by using personal computers to keep electronic diaries.

Japan’s own social network Mixi has reinforced the culture of the “nikki”. Mixi actually refers to their blogging function as a “diary”. One of the reasons for Twitter’s success in Japan can be easily be attributed to Japanese gravitating towards the micro-blogging tool to continue an already familiar culture of electronic diaries, but in real-time.

My view of a diary is something that is secret and only for the eyes of the writer. Certainly not the best way to build one’s visibility. As Japanese begin to embrace personal branding, they will also need to shift their blogging culture more towards expressing their thought-leadership, opinions, and expertise. In this way, they will be able to build their visibility and credibility by demonstrating their unique promise of value.

Blogging Indian ‘Shtyle’

India has a unique style of its own and even Indian English has its own vocabulary with words like suiting- shirting which you will not find in British/American /Canadian or any other variant of English. English has become such a part of Indian culture that we have our own variants of English viz Hinglish (Hindi + English), Tanglish (Tamil + English) and so on.

The Basics

Indian blogging of course has a flavor of its own-spiced up with the variety of Indian masalas and spices. There are a number of Indian blogs catering to various fields that are getting attention and traffic (still dismal compared to western counterparts.) According to a Blogosphere survey, “I Blog therefore I am”, besides English other prominent languages used by Indian bloggers include Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. Around 14 % of Indian netizens are blogging and 39 % are aware of Blogging, which means still more than half of Indian internet users are not even aware what blogging is. Blogs have become popular among educated urbanites and besides personal diaries they are blogging about social, political, economic, technological and philosophical/mystical.

Why should I Blog

Many Indian celebrities have become passionate bloggers and include the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Aamir Khan, Shobhaa De and L.K. Advani among others. There have been many blogging controversies which have put blogs into mass media limelight. Two of the major reasons why Indians blog include communicating their opinions and building their personal brands (particularly IT and media professionals/students).

Blogging is a powerful tool to emerge as a thought leader and share your expertise. In fact I always tell my clients that the blog is the pivot or the foundation of the personal brand.

What should I blog about?

According to an online survey of more than 1,000 MSN portal visitors in India, blogging is dominated by men, and blogs founded by business leaders make for the most enjoyable read, followed by those by politicians. Other topics include technology, news and education.

Other Do’s and Don’ts

Bloggers should note that aesthetics plays a huge role in attracting/retaining audiences. A good blog should be updated regularly with good content/blog posts and catchy pictures. Amongst the most annoying aspects of blogging include poor writing and self-focused content.

The Last Word

You can convert your Blogs into Books, ebooks, micro-blogs and so on. The monetization may take time and deep passion to carry on. But to build your personal brand, nothing can beat a Blog as the Blog only feeds your social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, be in the form of links or extracts. So Build a Blog to Build your Brand.

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About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+