The figures concerning how many people use social media sites are pretty damned impressive. Over a billion people are on Facebook. This means that if Facebook were a country, it’d have the third largest population in the world, behind only India and China.
China, coincidentally enough, is one of the few countries in the world where the population don’t have access to Facebook. Or Twitter, YouTube and Google for that matter. This means that for the longest time, social media marketers have been missing out on the marketing opportunities that come from a population as vast as that of China. With over 1.3 billion people, China would be any online marketers dream. However, due to the political situation and the somewhat secretive nature of the Chinese communist administration, Facebook and Twitter have been banned since the riots of 2009, which the government blamed on social networking sites.
However, a BBC report revealed early last week suggests that the Chinese government could be on the verge of relaxing their online censorship laws. However, this would only apply to small areas around major metropolises. According to the BBC, The South China Morning Post reported that Facebook, Twitter and other websites will be unlocked in a free-trade zone of Shanghai. An unnamed official was reported to have said that it is being done in order to make foreigners feel more at home. The paper named Facebook, Twitter and the New York Post website as the specific websites that will be unblocked in the area.
Think about the opportunities this could bring. Yes, at the moment it’s a very small window of opportunity, but you have to start somewhere. China for the longest time has shied away from the idea of allowing its citizens any sort of freedom of information. This could be a sign that things are beginning to change, and if it does change, the statistics make it clear what sort of market China will be for social networking opportunities. The country now has more than 591 million internet users and 460 million mobile web users. The sheer vastness of these figures could entirely change the game.
Only time will tell if China will actually go ahead and soften its stance to outside social networking sites, but if it does, then everything will change. Internet marketing will reach a whole new level as it tries to use social media sites to engage with the largest audience in the world.
EBS Marketing Team