Censoring Your Message

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Create Buzz: “Buzz marketing is a big trend in experiential marketing which is very appealing to young people,” said Wang. “It empowers the consumer.”
  3. 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.

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3 Responses to Censoring Your Message

  1. You raise a great question in your post about how brands can connect with Chinese audiences while treading lightly when it comes to activities that could be likely to get censored or involve the government. You also present your point of view that social networking may not be the answer, as Snyder seems to think. As you move on through the post, your examples from BusinessWeek don’t really end up proving this point or supporting your argument against social networking. This ultimately leaves a good question that you pose without a strong answer and a detailed case with your point of view. (3)

  2. maurice09 says:

    I really loved your Obama Inauguration’s speech example. I have heart about stuff like this – but actually never saw it. Your written introduction and the linked Youtube video outline in a very short but clear way political censorship in China. A great thing would have been, if you had listed further details on political censorships in the Internet era. Further down you make your point that political censorship is different than censorship for a corporation’s marketing strategy. I think, this is a very important point. However, I would love to see an example of a censored marketing strategy – would China use censorship to protect its market and products? -Moritz

  3. sroneill says:

    I had no idea Obama’s speech was censored in China! I wonder, do people in China know about this? If so, how did they hear about it? Through social media I am sure. I like Moritz’s idea of outlining further examples of political censorhips in China in the internet era. Other than communism, what other topics have they censored? And, what has slipped by them? Great post.

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