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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Behind the Twitter Boom

[From June Issue 2010]

Lately Twitter has been gaining popularity in Japan. Hiragana Times CIA interviewed Professor KAZAMA Ryuta, a Twitter and blog expert, and the author of “Twitter Boom Generated from Human Nature.”

CIA: Why are Twitter and blogs relevant to human nature?

Prof.: Simply put, a blog is a diary and Twitter is murmurings. In short, these satisfy the hidden, human “peeping-tom” desire to know about other people’s behavior and private lives, as well as drawing their attention.

CIA: I’ve heard that famous people also use Twitter nowadays.

Prof.: Yes, politicians including Prime Minister HATOYAMA and many “talento” have also started. Fans can learn of their activities and about their daily life, but in reality they usually write something positive about themselves to increase their good PR. In other words, what you read is controlled information.

CIA: Ordinary people do not need good PR, so they write more honestly, no?

Prof.: Yes. As a result, popular bloggers and Tweeters draw more attention and are followed more closely than “talentos.” Their comments are more persuasive since their comments are based on their real experiences.

CIA: Don’t you think that there are many companies that would love to use their influence?

Prof.: Companies ask people to rate their products & services in exchange for free items or a consulting fee. Bloggers and Tweeters would be happy to know that their messages were valued and would surely accept more company requests, maybe even becoming professional corporate spokespersons. Here is where you can see human nature at work – they are similar to politicians, who start out honestly working for the people, but end up corrupted by sweet temptation.

CIA: Without knowing all the facts, people probably buy poor products believing that they are fine products. Is there any way to know the real truth?

Prof.: You should know the 8:2 rule. If there is only admiration for a product, then people will know that it’s PR. To avoid that, 20% should be something negative so the comments seem realistic. The writer’s skill can easily mask the deficiencies, leading the reader to make the purchase anyway. After reading the comment, if you still want the product, you should remember the old adage that still applies. “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

One Comment from CIA

Many companies have their staff write positive comments about their products/services. Do you remember that it became a big issue when manufactured comments were disclosed by a leading supermarket in USA? It has been suggested that Twitter will spread quickly among Japanese, who habitually follow other people’s behaviors. In other words, Japanese are unable to independently judge whether or not something is really good or bad. So dear Japanese readers, now that many people have started using Twitter, saying that it is fun, what will you do?

* CIA(Cynically Insulting Agency /皮肉冗談局)


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