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Would a Chinese Facebook be a boon to marketers?

2 min read

Marketing Strategy

Facebook may be looking to expand into China despite the government’s blocks against it, Mike Froggatt reasons in the top story from today’s SmartBrief on Social Media. It doesn’t defy credulity to think that the most popular Western social network would want to develop a presence in the world’s most populous country.

The question is, if Facebook enters China, how will social marketers react?

China has its share of its popular social networks already, and taking the Facebook experience to China could prove difficult because of the Chinese government’s censorship rules. Facebook may have a difficult time convincing Chinese users to abandon the networks they currently use for a sanitized version of an American import. And diving into business in China without stopping to understand the culture is a great way to step yourself up for failure.

At this stage, marketers may be better off taking a wait-and-see approach. Usually, the conventional wisdom is that early entrants to a social network are the ones who prosper. But I’m going to argue that devoting a lot of time and effort to a nascent Chinese Facebook would be the very definition of being late to the party. I think marketers looking to reach Chinese consumers would be better served meeting would-be customers on their own networks, instead of trying to lure them over to a familiar American standby.

Will Facebook be able to enter the Chinese market? Will Western social networks be able to compete with China’s social outlets? Which kind of network should marketers looking to connect with Chinese consumers invest their time in?

Image credit, Carsten Reisinger, via Shutterstock
PS: For more of thoughts on the intersection between China and social media, check out our coverage of this panel from SXSW.