On January 20, 2009 people around the world sat and watched Barrack Obama’s inauguration speech including the People’s Republic of China up until Obama said, “Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.” Like Twitter and YouTube, China censored the president of the United States.
China’s censorship is the government’s effort to neutralize critical online opinion. According to Britney Wilkins’ 25 Shocking Facts About Chinese Censorship, offending China online warrants jail time and fines are often issued as punishment.
What does this mean for social media in China? According to Bill Snyder social networking trumps censorship every time.
I’m not so sure that is the case. So how can brands tread lightly to reach their Chinese audience without offending its government?
Social media is all about the online conversations and engaging others. In order to tiptoe around the government’s regulations while reaching its target audience, brands have to do their research. Utilizing a number of social media sites could greatly benefit a brand because while one may be censored at the time, one may not.
According to BusinessWeek, in order to penetrate the Chinese market brands should:
- Build Links: Chinese consumers are more focused on brands than most of their Western counterparts. They want to know which new trends will give them added status, and buy luxury goods not because they necessarily like them but because they are representations of success.
- Create Buzz: “Buzz marketing is a big trend in experiential marketing which is very appealing to young people,” said Wang. “It empowers the consumer.”
- An increasingly popular means of engagement is inviting customers to generate brand-related content.
Although brands should be flexible with the platforms they select, they should not censor their message.