What is the Line App? Everything Brands Need to Know in 2021
The Line app is big in Japan. In the 10 years since its inception, Line has grown to become the country’s leading social platform. Around 68% of the population use the app. Aside from YouTube, no other social network has matched Line’s impact on the Japanese market.
Line began as a mobile messaging app, but has since developed into a kind of “super app” with the mission of becoming the “life infrastructure” for its users.
The app’s portfolio includes everything from news and social feeds to banking and health services.
Until recently, it was a little too complex for companies abroad to market the app. But with its ownership having global growth in mind, that is changing. The official accounts have been tweaked and more information is now available in English.
Do you want to reach the largest audience in Japan? Learn more about the Line app and find out if it suits your company.
Download the full report on social trends To get an in-depth analysis of the data, you need to inform your social strategy in 2021.
What is the Line App?
Line is a Japanese social media app. It started in June 2011 in response to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan three months earlier. The app was designed to provide people with a reliable line of communication in the event of a disaster, but it soon became an everyday messaging tool.
Line is now considered a “super app”. Similar to China’s WeChat and South Korea’s KakaoTalk, the platform evolved from a chat app to a center for entertainment, social and everyday activities. Think of YouTube, Spotify, WhatsApp, Instagram, Reddit, Clubhouse and Uber together … and a few more.
As media scientist Marc Steinberg recently put it in an article: Line is “an app in the Swiss army style that does pretty much everything”.
How does the Line app work?
As with other social platforms, users can create profiles online, connect with friends on private or public channels, and switch between a personalized timeline and the recently added Explore tab.
In addition to posting posts and videos, users can also create stories, much like they do on Instagram and other websites.
What is the Line app used for?
What sets Line apart from other social networks is the range of functions and tools.
In addition to mobile messages, voice calls and video calls, Line integrates tools for banking, shopping and more. The app also centralizes access to health services, travel agencies, restaurants and shops, and job boards.
Line also acts as a news aggregator and media streaming service, providing users with access to daily articles, more than 70 million songs, manga, live videos, games, and more.
To sum it up, here is a non-exhaustive list of what Line can be used for:
- Voice and video calls
- Share and create stickers
- OpenChat forums and threads
- Make payments or send money with Line Pay
- Ordering grocery deliveries from Line Man
- Predictions received from fortune tellers of the lineage
- Discover and read manga
- Consultation with health professionals
- Send gifts to friends with Line Gift
- Investing in stocks or cryptocurrency
- Streaming music, live concerts, sports, and more
- Watch and speak to streamers on Line Live
The full list of Line App services can be found here.
Who owns the Line app?
Line is a consolidated subsidiary of South Korean internet giant Naver and SoftBank Corp. Each company has a 50% stake in Line.
In March 2021, Line merged with SoftBank subsidiary Yahoo! Japan, renamed Z Holdings. Line, in turn, was renamed A Holdings Corporation, although it is still labeled and recognized as Line.
The consolidation of Line and Z Holdings creates a significant alliance between their parent companies. Softbank is committed to investing 500 billion Japanese yen ($ 4.7 billion) and hiring 5,000 AI engineers to help make the company more competitive in the global marketplace.
“The integration is expected to lead to a significant expansion of the user base, as LINE and Yahoo Japan served the so-called ’10-20 generation ‘and ’40-50 generation’, respectively,” said Naver’s 2020 annual report.
With 86 million users across the country, Line may be the largest social app in Japan, but it’s popular elsewhere too. Line is also the most popular social network in Thailand, with 21 million articles published daily and 170 million views daily.
According to Naver’s 2020 annual report, Line has 165 million monthly active users (MAUs) in Japan and Southeast Asia. Worldwide that number rises to 182 million MAUs. Like many other social platforms, Line is blocked in mainland China, where WeChat rules unchallenged with 1.2 billion monthly active users.
Source: Line Business Guide 2021
What is remarkable about Line’s demographics is how evenly things are collapsing.
The gender distribution is split in the middle. Use by age group is also consistently constant and only drops to 52% from the age of 60. In terms of work, the majority of people who use Line (49.9%) work in an office.
How to Use Line for Business
Wondering how to use the Line app for your business? Look no further.
Open an official account
There are more than 3 million official accounts held by online companies in Japan. With an official account, your company can send up to 500 targeted messages per month and access user trends and analytics data.
To create an official account:
1. Download the LINE Official Account App.
2. Tap Log in with the LINE app or Sign in with email.
3. Tap Create a new account.
4. Fill out the form and tap Continue.
5. Tap create Account.
Official accounts can be verified upon request.
Business accounts start for free and then switch to pay-as-you-go (based on the number of messages sent) or subscription models.
As of March 2021, Premium Accounts will not be available in the US, Singapore and the EU.
Once you’ve created a business account, make sure to promote it. People have a high chance of engaging with a company after following it.
Source: Line Business Guide
Use the profile functions
An official online account gives businesses access to a number of features.
All official account profiles include:
- Profile picture (640 x 640 pixels)
- Cover picture (1080 x 878 pixels)
- Status (20 characters)
- Website link
Businesses can also enable location settings so users can find stores near them and set up chat tools based on their preferences.
Plugins can be added to contain digital loyalty program cards, menus or product lists, delivery or appointment options, and more.
Provide customer service and support
As a messaging app, Line has proven to be an important customer service and support channel for many companies on the platform. Account managers have the ability to turn off chat, set up automatic replies, organize chats with tags, and track customer history and preferences. Official line accounts can also be added to group chats.
For a less practical approach, numerous customer support tools are available, including chatbots from Streamchat Enterprise. These bots can be used on Line and Facebook Messenger. They also integrate right into the Hootsuite dashboard so you can manage all customer inquiries in one place.
Create promotional stickers
Stickers are a popular feature on the internet, and companies can get in on the action by creating their own.
The goal is to design stickers that are nice enough that people will share them in their chats and have “befriended” your account.
Source: Line Sticker Expression Guide
Line offers free stickers that are available for purchase. Companies can choose to increase their reach Sponsored stickersthat appear in the “New” and “Free” categories of the sticker shop and can be available for 90-180 days.
Mission sponsored stickers are another option that, as the name suggests, requires users to complete a task in order to access the sticker.
Direct stickers are sold exclusively by companies and are not listed in the sticker shop.
For more information, see the Line Sticker Expression Guide and the Sponsored Sticker FAQ.
Offer coupons and promotions
Official accounts also have the option to create vouchers that can be made available to everyone, followers or followers and their friends.
Coupons appear in the Promotions section of your profile and can be included in timeline posts and messages throughout the app.
Conduct line surveys
Line allows official accounts to create surveys that can be shared with news, posts, and other shows in the Line app.
You may want to conduct surveys for product feedback or just learn more about your online audience. As an incentive to participate, Line offers the opportunity to provide thank you vouchers.
Try line advertising
Line Ads gives advertisers access to a range of formats, targeting tools, and ad location options across Line’s family of services.
Be strategic. With so many touchpoints available, brands can choose whether to target audiences tailored to their location, interests and behavior and place ads in highly relevant areas.
Sizzler, a Thai steak restaurant, used a combination of similar audience and location targeting to increase its presence in the delivery market. When someone showed interest by visiting Sizzler’s profile or website, they would receive targeted promotions and offers.
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