The People’s Republic of China bans Facebook. Despite this, the mega-million social network is ramping up efforts to make money.
Facebook Inc. is hiring workers in Hong Kong and has also tapped a second local partner to reach advertisers. The social network is increasing its charm campaign to attract more Chinese companies and brands to advertise, despite the network’s ban in the country. The aim is to attract Chinese brands with the benefits of reaching Facebook’s 1.39 billion active monthly users beyond Chinese borders.
Other companies with blocked services are also running a tight race in mainland China. Google Inc., which pulled out some services from China five years ago due to censorship concerns, released a Chinese-language developer on YouTube last February. The company also opened up its Google Play store to Chinese app developers.
Twitter also opened its first Hong Kong office this month. The micro-blogging social network also aims to gain more advertisers from the mainland.
Mark Zuckerberg’s social network continues to seek more Chinese clients such as Youzu Interactive Co., an online game designer based in Shanghai. According to Youzu developers, registered daily players for its game League of Angels doubled after spending 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) on advertising on the social media network.
“Half of our players come from Facebook,” says Liu Wanqin, a Youzu manager involved with overseas advertising. “Facebook is our most important ad tool right now.”
The race for advertising efforts intensifies as Facebook levels up its efforts to enter the mainland. Beijing has banned popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.
Facebook remains on a positive light, believing that the network has a shot in thriving within the walls of Beijing. China possesses its own social media services, but Chinese users continue to crave new offers. Thomas Crampton, a global managing director of Social@Ogilvyy says: “The baseline evangelism is already there.”
Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer and co-founder, has established a respectable profile in the mainland recently. Last October, he spoke fair Mandarin to a Chinese audience in Tsinghua University in Beijing. In December, he showed the country’s top internet regulator his evidence of keeping a book of Chinese President Xi Jingpin on his desk.
Chinese officials continue to tighten its grip on cyberspace these recent months. This includes the government’s renewed push in forcing Internet users to give up anonymity and suppressed content referred to as rumors.
Mainland-based companies using Facebook remain unfazed by their government’s steps. “Companies here look at advertising from a pragmatic perspective and say, ‘Is this the way to accomplish our business goal?’” says Crampton, “If it is, let’s do it.”
Light in the Box, a Chinese online retailer selling everything from wedding dresses to baby monitors, purchased ads from Facebook last 2013, in addition to its advertising efforts on Google. According to Chief Executive Alan Guo, this creates more demand.
“Google is more text based, ”explained Guo. “Facebook ads have a lot to do with pictures and bigger presentation space.” He says the firm appreciates Facebook’s ability to target users in particular demographics.