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Japanese Consumers A-Twitter Over U.S. Beef

Published: Jun 06, 2012
While Americans are being cautioned not to text while they drive, or even while they walk, Japanese diners are being encouraged to “Tweet While You Eat” to share their excitement about U.S. beef.

Japanese consumers are accustomed to following bloggers and visiting mobile websites to learn more about U.S. beef, but Twitter is a relative newcomer to Japan. As the number of Twitter fans in Japan recently topped 15 million, USMEF launched a multi-phase Twitter campaign to engage and motivate consumers to digitally share their interest in U.S. beef and win tasty prizes. Funding for the campaign is provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff Program.

The first initiative is the selection of four American Beef Ambassadors from the nearly 5,000 Twitter followers USMEF-Japan has amassed. Over the next six months, these individuals will promote themselves as American Beef Ambassadors, utilizing the “#usbeef” hashtag at the end of each tweet. This hashtag will make their tweets searchable to other fans as they write about home cooking or restaurant dining experiences with U.S. beef.

“As Twitter gains new followers by the day in Japan, we are confident that this campaign will significantly expand the visibility of U.S. beef among a critical audience – the young adults who have built this technology into their daily lifestyles,” said Tazuko Hijikata USMEF-Japan senior manager of consumer affairs.

“Beef Now” In the Japanese Twitter culture, “now” is the operative word. Many tweets end with “now” to create the sense of timeliness and urgency. USMEF is riding this wave with its “American Beef Now” initiative designed to demonstrate the popularity of U.S. beef among Twitter users. Consumers will tweet “American Beef Now” and the location of the restaurant where they are dining on U.S. beef, helping to drive other consumers to these destinations.

Based on their number of followers and influence displayed, USMEF-Japan will periodically select tweeters to receive one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of American beef as a prize.

To support the campaign, USMEF-Japan is running a list of restaurants that serve U.S. beef on its website to serve as a resource for interested tweeters.

“‘American Beef Now’ will encourage diners to try U.S. beef,” said Hijikata. “And when their friends read the tweets, they will see that someone they trust is enjoying and publicly announcing that they are eating it, which supports both the image of U.S. beef and the restaurant offering it on its menu.”
“American Beef Go! Go!” Campaign USMEF is not putting all of its new media eggs in the Twitter basket. To help drive traffic to its website, USMEF-Japan recently conducted the “American Beef Go! Go!” campaign to provide education about U.S. beef in an entertaining format. More than 10,000 consumers participated in the campaign.

Visitors to the USMEF website can acquire basic knowledge about American beef and earn “stamps” as they demonstrate knowledge about the safety, flavor and other positive attributes of the product. Participants will be eligible for prize drawings including one kilogram packages of U.S. beef and popular cooking utensils.

Through the first four months of 2013, U.S. beef exports to Japan were up 44 percent in value ($382 million) compared to 2012, and 49 percent in volume to 59,969 metric tons (132 million pounds).