Chinese social media censorship generates entrepreneurship?

Many know that the popular domestic social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. Though this does not mean that China is lacking presence in the social media world. In fact with restricting foreign sites, Chinese based web entrepreneurship has flourished. Although some may feel the increased censorship and government control is harsh or unfair, looking at it in a different perspective, it is enabling China and its own citizens to continue to flourish on its own.

Rather than eliminate social media, restrictions on foreign websites and social media have resulted in a flourishing home-grown, state-approved ecosystem in which Chinese-owned properties thrive. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are blocked in China, but their Chinese equivalents are expanding. By some measures, usage of Chinese social media is some of the most intense in the world.

As mentioned in Social Media in China, The Same But Different the Chinese government’s priority is connecting with other Chinese online.

The Internet has opened access to information for ordinary Chinese citizens in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

The connection is not only on a “social” level, but could be valuable to businesses as well. If businesses are not connecting with Chinese citizens via their Chinese originated web outlets, they could be loosing out on business and exposure in Asia. A lack of understanding and communication with consumers could result in lost opportunity.

Understanding social media is no longer a luxury for companies operating in China—it is an imperative.

The article compared some domestic platforms with China based ones

They are referring to this image as social media “bulls-eyes” that place international platforms on the outside ring and their local equivalents on the inner ring. The system developed by Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence team has strengths and weaknesses, but gives you a nice framework to reference. You can read the comparisons at greater length in the article Social Media in China, The Same But Different .

Additionally China’s censorship has left social media as one of the only platforms in which Chinese citizens access or use the internet. So many users experience the internet through social media only.

When new users join the Internet, a friend will often introduce them to one particularly relevant service, such as how to communicate with friends for free via Sina Weibo or buy goods via China’s e-Bay equivalent—Taobao (www.taobao.com), so that service becomes their concept of the Internet. These examples show how many Chinese netizens would not distinguish between social media and the Internet itself. To them, the Internet is social media and vice versa.

For companies operating in China, the rise of social media opens opportunities to engage with consumers and, at times, avert serious problems. By ignoring social media, companies may not see a consumer-led crisis coming. Companies can use social media in China to conduct consumer research, shift brand preference, launch products, and manage crises.

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One Response to Chinese social media censorship generates entrepreneurship?

  1. sydhavely says:

    Liz–You’ve hit on an important issue with China–capitalism and censorship. As you heard Sabrina say, China doesn’t know what to expect from the new regime and your post points that up in spades. Glad you have the opportunity to be part of the “tilt toward Asia” as your Wharton position put you at the tip of the spear. Great post and very prescient.

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