Japan’s biggest social network Mixi (which crossed the 20 million member mark in April) may have just found yet another way to expand its user base and boost engagement. Mixi yesterday introduced a new function that makes it possible to find colleagues from your company on the site and befriend them.
Unlike Facebook and other social networks outside Japan, most members use nick names and no face pictures on their profiles (using your real name isn’t required anywhere on the site). In other words, if you want to i.e. re-connect with your old high-school friend, it’s much harder to do than, say, on Facebook (Mixi provides a special tool to overcome that particular problem).
Another point worth mentioning is that Japan doesn’t have a single business social network like LinkedIn that ever reached a critical mass.
Mixi says the new company search is ideal for those members wishing to connect with colleagues to have lunch, do sports or drink with. After befriending your colleagues, you can share photos or your Mixi calendar with them in a sort of “LinkedIn light” environment (friends you made this way will be hidden from your “non-professional” contacts).
Even though just entering the name of your company is enough to start (another company called Teikoku provided the database), actually getting through to individuals seems to be much harder in my test (I entered “???” (GREE) to try the new function out).
Here’s how a sample “LinkedIn light” within Mixi looks like (click to enlarge):
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