Case Studies

Social Media & Marketing Campaigns: Keeping Japan Connected

Last week’s earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, leaving behind grieving loved ones, homeless families, destroyed businesses and a nuclear emergency.  Within minutes of the deadly natural disaster, #Japan became a leading Twitter trending topic as loved ones turned to social media to find one another.  Since then, some of the world’s largest corporations have employed marketing campaigns to help the Japanese people communicate with each other and the rest of the world.

It seems like every time I load my Twitter feed there is a new story on social media pitfalls and marketing mishaps, so let’s take a minute and spotlight some innovative uses of social media and marketing that are keeping Japan connected in the wake of last week’s tragedy.

  • Google People Finder – As the death toll climbed into the thousands and with hundreds of thousands of Japanese declared homeless, Google launched a Crisis Response page for global citizens to find government information, make donations and more.  They also launched a People Finder page where loved ones can look up missing persons and enter information about people they know. There are more than 140,000 records on the site.



  • Miswasa Air Force Base Facebook Fan Page – After land lines and cellular phones went down, the military personnel at the Miswasa Air Force Base turned to the base’s Facebook page to communicate with soldiers’ families in the United States.  The fan page jumped from about 1,000 fans to 4,600 in a matter of days.  Thousands of military families have used the page to offer prayers, find loved ones and learn about relief efforts.


  • Mixi – Lesser known in America, Mixi is one of Japan’s largest social networking sites.  Since its inception in 2004, the site has gained more than 25 million users who engage in “community entertainment” – sending and receiving messages, writing diary entries, commenting on other entries and inviting friends to join.  Following the mega-quake, Mixi’s leadership added a donation button for users to click when they log in to their account.  In just two days, the site raised $1.5 million for a Japan relief fund.



  • AT&T, Verizon & Sprint – On Monday, AT&T announced that customers in the United States and Puerto Rico would be able to call and text to Japanese numbers for free through the end of March.  Shortly after AT&T’s announcement, Verizontweeted that it too would offer free calls and text messages to Japan. Sprint ultimately joined the bandwagon as well, offering free services through April 10.

— Anna Ruth Williams