Brain Vibe

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China Government’s Role in Social Media

Recognizing culture when leveraging social media marketing in China is more than just how the Chinese interact and their cultural norms.  China is still a communist country and the goverment plays a role in how people communicate as well as what they can say.  Early last month, China issues a list of web portals, including Google, which provide access to vulgar content.  Sites were asked to sweep out “yellow” (offensive) content.  However, vulgar is not just related to obscentities.  It appears that some bloggers are caught up in the sweep due to dissenting views, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

The WSJ writes:

“Gluttonous Suckling Pig is back.


Sensitive eyes: China’s online obscenity sweep doesn’t snare just pornographers, some bloggers believe. (Photo by Reuters)

The pseudonymous blogger known for political satire was one of the main attractions of, a Chinese Web portal seen as welcoming to dissenting views. But the blogger was one of two who were pulled last month from Bullog, which was later closed as part of Beijing’s anti-vulgarity Internet sweep. Some China blogosphere watchers believe the real reason was the number of Bullog members who signed last December’s pro-democracy Charter 08.”

Each year China conducts these types of cleansing efforts.  The focus has primarily been on internet content, and bloggers are affected.  But, social media is beyond blogging and can be contained in micro venues of social network pages, comments, and Twitter.  As social media continues to pervade in China, it goes to reason that the government is looking at these outlets as well.  It may only be a matter of time before it focuses attention here.

Cultural sensitivity needs to be considered not just in the context of those you are trying to communicate and connect to, but also government regulations and perceptions.  This is also true in the US even considering our freedom of speech laws and regulations.  Profanity is regulated.  Access to adult content is regulated.  Advertising of adult tabacoo and alchohol is regulated.  In China, it is acceptable to have a broader regulation of communications.  So, you have to work within these guidelines.

The goal of marketing is to build relationships with your customers and get your message across.  Work within the norms and laws of China.  Afterall, if you don’t, your marketing effort is not received, may even be blocked, and then what did you accomplish?  It is not hard to avoid these pitfalls.  Walking through Shanghai, marketing messages and billboard messages are not all that different from walking through any major city.  It appears that to succeed, it is better to assimillate rather than become rogue.  Take the risk of leveraging social media marketing in China, but be cognizant of how you deliver the message.

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