LINE for Brands

LINE_Messaging_Application_LogoNot only is LINE one of the largest messaging applications, it is also one of the fastest growing. In fact, Global Web Index reported in a Q2 report on mobile messaging that LINE was growing at a faster rate than Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and Snapchat. They reported 99% growth in Q1 of 2015. Facebook Messenger was up 71%. So what do brands need to know about this platform? Here’s an overview and some key takeaways for brands.

What is LINE?

LINE was developed in Japan and first launched in 2011. It allows users to message friends and groups and also serves as a free Wi-Fi phone and video chatting service among LINE users. Similarly to the Skype business model, LINE Out allows users to purchase credits to be used for other calls outside of the LINE network. To further diversify the platform, earlier this year LINE also launched a TV streaming service (similar to Netflix) and a paid music streaming service accessible within the application. LINE’s revenue is driven mostly from in-app games and paid stickers that users send to their friends. They have also recently launched LINE Pay for in-app purchasing from select retailers and brands.


Line is a to 5 messaging application if you exclude China

LINE Usage

According to Global Web Index, LINE is the most popular messaging application in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. The majority of LINE’s 211 million MAU (monthly active users) are located in those areas. However, they are also growing in influence in Spain, Argentina, Singapore and Hong Kong, largely due to their specialized global marketing strategy (I’ll explain that part below).

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  1. The application is widely popular for its use of stickers and stories about the characters they feature. It’s often described as one of the most fun and enjoyable platforms. Those characters (think emoji for different characters) are used within the application as a sort of storytelling feature and even have their own TV show. Each is so widely adopted that LINE has experimented with pop-up stores that sell merchandise featuring the characters, including novelty items, t-shirts, and other gear. 
  2. Many celebrities have channels on the network, and they share content regularly. iHeartRadio had their San Diego broadcast personalities set up accounts and within 6 months they reported that their follower counts were larger on LINE than Facebook, Instagram and Twitter COMBINED. Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 are also top producers on the network. If you’re a brand with a celebrity partner, explore the options of syndication to their networks on these channels.TaylorSwift on LINE Messaging Application
  3. Similarly to WeChat, Official Account holders can build their own experiences/applications within the app. This functionality is called Business Connect. Many brands have delivery services, dry-cleaning pickup reminders and a number of other functionalities built
    into their Official Accounts.
  4. LINE has its eye on global adoption. In addition to their unique breadth of services, each user experiences the application differently depending on their native country. Characters are slightly altered to appeal to cultural norms in certain countries and LINE targets partners that can extend their reach and influence in those regions. If you’re a brand hoping to jump on the LINE bandwagon, exploring partnership opportunities may be a good way to do so while being mindful that the user base is still mostly centralized to Asia.
  5. Engagement is key on the platform. Even though some celebrities have fewer followers on this network, they routinely receive more likes on their content here. That’s because the users are engaged and enjoy the lighthearted nature of the platform. Content for this platform should be created with this in mind.
  6. The platform is popular for its games and characters. Brands should be as native to the platform as possible, which may mean integrated the LINE characters in content.

If you want to learn more about LINE, this Fast Company piece on the business is fantastic.

Is your business utilizing LINE? If so, we’d love to hear how in the comments below!

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