The internet is often cited as a great engine of ‘freedom’ in China. However, blogger, Peter Foster, believes (as many do) that there is a counter-perception that says the internet in China is actually a tool of collective repression, since the Chinese state has far greater resources than ordinary citizens to control it.
The Great Firewall of China has recently precluded access to Facebook, Google, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress, Blogger, Bing and Twitter (among other sites) in the wake of last week’s Uighur riots; and according to The Wall Street Journal, while Chinese internet users have been regaining access to most social networking websites, it seems that the bans have not yet been lifted for YouTube and Blogger, both subsidiaries of Google.
For many internet enthusiasts domestic and abroad, the omnipresent censorship ability of this ‘machine’ that is the Chinese government presents a point of major contention; however this yields a unique opportunity for the people of China to take back their technological freedom through peer-to-peer information sharing and BBS sites. And for US marketers to utilize uncensored, Chinese-based tools ike advergaming and virtual word platforms.
Companies who want to market in China using social media would do well to realize the tremendous potential of these digital marketing platforms and use them judiciously for the promotion of their brands, services and products in the “Middle Kingdom.”
Although China is said to be thriving online, a deeper delve into the subject reveals that China’s great firewall is formidable and omnipresent. The Chinese government is able to block foreign media content and suppress local SNS networks and netizen content using sophisticated software and government technology monitoring policies and processes. It can do so on a whim, without court order and repeatedly.
In response to this challenging digital marketing environment, US companies wishing to engage Chinese consumers online in China, would do well to consider alternatives to Western marketing techniques by utilizing secondary platforms. For example, <a href="Mashable “>Mashable reports that Twitter can still be accessed through third party clients such as Seesmic Desktop or Tweetdeck; and many brands like Apple and McDonalds are utilizing SNS platforms like 51.com and QQ.com using avatars within online virtual worlds.Additionally, US brands like Addidas are using online gaming forums like Xiaonei.com to engage Chinese consumers in advergaming platforms.While BBS (consumer watchdog) platforms largely serve to channel the frustrations from Chinese consumers who are enraged by the digital censorship tactics of their communist regime; brands wishing to demonstrate a non-interrupted advertising presence in the Middle Kingdom should learn a lesson from highly embattled Google, who tried bucking the Chinese government. For Google the battle to scale China’s digital wall of fire has largely been downhill, and has left them with sustained and painful burn marks that have yet to fully heal.
From this example, a valuable lesson to US Brands can be derived: “When in