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How to increase your LINE friends – our tips and strategies

The LINE Japan Official Account is a unique feature brands can use to raise brand awareness,  by creating a loyal fan base in Japan. Users can become ‘friends’ with business accounts, which allows for direct communication between customers and businesses. By increasing the number of LINE friends, brands can attract more people to their ecommerce websites, promote new products and services, or run LINE-exclusive promotions. In this article, we introduce several methods of increasing the number of friends, which is a crucial step after launching an Official Account.

What are LINE Japan Friends?

On LINE Japan, users who add a LINE Official Account to their network are called ‘Friends’. Brands can then use their friend base to run digital marketing campaigns.

There are plenty of advanced targeting options available for marketers running LINE Ads, that allow them to narrow down ad delivery. Apart from classic targeting options like gender, age, or region, it’s also possible to choose their usage frequency of LINE or other LINE services.

It is important for brands to continually grow their friend base. Users who become friends with an Official Account are usually already familiar with the brand, service, or product. Therefore, it is easier to encourage them to make a purchase and increase sales.

Understanding your LINE Japan friends

While it is not possible to check the personal information of users who are friends with an Official Account, there is other data available to help you understand your audience, such as some of their profile information.You can access it through various methods, for example, when a user sends a direct chat message to your Official Account, or an Official Account that uses Messaging API is added as a friend. You can find more details about this here (Japanese only).

Each Official Account has access to detailed analytics, which include the number of friends, their attributes, as well as profile ‘befriending’ routes.

5 ways to increase the number of LINE Japan friends

Here are our 5 tips on how to increase the number of LINE friends for your brand’s Official Account.

1. In-store Activity

Examples: printed posters, bulletin boards, shop staff informing customers at checkout.

If you have a physical store, displaying information about your Official Account around the shop is one of the best ways to let customers know about it. Many brands use the following methods:

– Posters displayed around the store including the LINE Official Account ID and a QR code (‘scan to add a friend’)

– Flyers or pamphlets announcing the launch of the LINE Official Account that shop staff give out to customers, encouraging them to become friends with a brand.

When running an in-store promotion, it is important to consider the optimal place to display the information as well as the timing of the announcement, in order to catch shoppers’ attention.

Apart from posters, there are also plenty of other ready-made assets that can be purchased via the LINE Official Account Management Screen (desktop only). These include table-top stands, cards, door stickers, and more.

Successful case study:

A car parts store in Saitama Prefecture had a target to gain 25 new ‘friends’ on weekdays and 50 on weekends. In addition to informing its customers about the account, it added QR code posters to the till and added the QR code to staff name tags, and business cards. As a result, the store gained over 24,000 friends.


2. ‘Add friend’ button or custom URL / QR code

Every LINE Official Account can easily create an ‘add friend’ button, URL, or QR code through the management screen. Brands can then use it in online campaigns, emphasising the benefits of becoming friends with them. Once users tap the button, they will be redirected to the ‘add friend’ screen of the LINE Official Account. By placing the button on a website or blog, you can encourage visitors to become friends.

You can learn more about custom URLs here (Japanese only).

Successful case study:

Party Photo is a website that gathers professional photographers that users can then hire. It allows photographers to include ‘add friend’ buttons, which allowed them to grow their friend base to over 1000.

It is also possible to add a new friend by simply scanning a QR code – which can be printed on business cards, menus, flyers, etc. On social media, where it is not possible to install the ‘add friend’ button, a custom URL is a great way to easily share it with other users.

To be able to better understand the new friends coming in, LINE allows you to add special parameters that help you analyse which promotional campaign performs best. Click here to learn more about campaign parameters (Japanese only)

Successful case study:

Shinra Garden is a restaurant serving A5 grade wagyu beef. They use simple A4 size printouts placed on top of tables at two stores in Kawagoe City. Customers can easily scan the QR code and add a new friend while dining.


3. Friend-exclusive promotions

Running friends-only sales and promotions is a great way to increase the number of people who want to become friends with your business. Monthly discounts or early bird type promotions are great incentives. Also, when users are happy with the special discounts they can get through being friends with a brand, they are more likely to recommend doing the same to their friends, increasing organic, word-of-mouth advertising.

Successful case study:

Boteju is a restaurant chain serving okonomiyaki pancakes, with around 100 stores in Japan and overseas. They regularly distribute coupons and discounts encouraging customers to visit their stores. They also send out user-friendly information with details about special campaigns or free dessert gifts, and their messages have an open rate of over 90%.


4. New friend incentive

This is a method of offering on-the-spot incentives to users who add them as friends. For example: ‘add us as a friend, and get a free dessert’. The benefits of adding the business as a friend are easy to understand and quick to get, which makes many people willing to do it. 

Successful case study:

Suzu Cafe is a cafe chain in Hiroshima and Tokyo. They place table top menus with ‘free cheesecake’ coupons for users who become friends with their LINE Official Account. It helps them not only increase their number of friends, but also lets customers try new menu items, and hopefully visit again in the future.


5. Cost-Per-Friend (CPF) Paid Ads

LINE Official Accounts allow brands to run unique Cost-Per-Friend campaigns. The goal is to increase the number of LINE friends, and advertisers pay for each new friend acquired throughout the duration of the campaign. It is a very effective method, frequently more efficient than any other mentioned in this article. It also allows you to reach new users who are unable to visit a physical store, or are not aware of the brand quite yet.

Successful case study:

UZUZ provides job-hunting support for second-time graduates. It used CPF campaigns in mid-March 2020, during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, they managed to find 10 new interviewees (new friends), at a cost of just 300 yen ($2.31) per person.

With over 94 million users, LINE is the most widely used messaging app in Japan – making it an ideal platform to promote products and services. The LINE Official Account allows businesses to gather a loyal fan base, grow brand awareness, and communicate directly with customers through a variety of features and LINE-exclusive promotions.

As certified LINE partners, we can help you open and manage the LINE Official Account, and help navigate through the ads platform. Get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation with one of our LINE experts.


Additional resources (Japanese only):

  1. ‘How to Gather Friends’ – Detailed Guide
  2. Understading LINE friends
  3. LINE Official Account printable assets
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