Archive for March, 2010

China’s Response 0

Google on Monday kept the promise it made in January to stop censoring search results in mainland China by closing Google.cn and redirecting search queries from mainland China to its servers in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government reacted by declaring that Google had broken the promise it made when it began operating in the country.

“Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks,” said an unnamed government official with China’s State Council Information Office in a report published by the state-run Xinhua news service. “This is totally wrong. We’re uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on China’s strongly worded response to its actions.

But Google’s partners in China appear to be moving to distance themselves from the company.

China Mobile reportedly plans to cancel a deal to feature Google Search on its home page, according to The New York Times, and China Unicom has apparently shelved plans to release an Android-based phone.

Such punitive action against Google could pose problems for the Chinese government however.

Rebecca MacKinnon, visiting fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, observed in a blog post on Tuesday that retaliation is likely to deepen the anxiety of the foreign business community about China’s trade practices and to harm U.S.-China trade relations.

Andrew Lih, USC Annenberg Journalism professor and director of new media, suggests that Google’s repudiation of censorship in China has touched a nerve in the country.

“The fact that there’s been kind of a strong reaction from the PRC authorities is a little bit surprising because it probably means that the situation has reached a point where they cannot control everything anymore,” he said in a phone interview.

The PRC doesn’t have the same sort of jurisdiction in Hong Kong as it does in mainland China, owing to the “One country, two systems” structure put in place after the British handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

The fact that Google has stopped voluntarily censoring search results in China doesn’t mean that access to blocked content will become easier there. Queries sent to Hong Kong about sensitive political subjects are now being blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China rather than stripped from search results lists by Google.

But Lih believes this may make censorship more apparent to Chinese Internet users and may prompt more interest in the issue among people who might otherwise be content to remain apolitical. “You’re going to have great number of folks who are going to run up right against the Great Firewall,” he said, “and people are going to start asking questions.”

Google pulls out of China 0

The US firm is now offering unfiltered services through this website, but search results are still being censored in mainland China.

Sensitive information that was not accessible before is still being blocked by the Chinese government.

And some other services – such as free music downloads – are still available in China, as they were previously, through the internet firm’s google.cn site.

Google announced on Monday that it had stopped censoring search results for news, images and other information.

It had originally agreed to self-censor those results when it set up the google.cn site, based in mainland China, in 2006.

Internet users who now try to log on to google.cn are redirected to the firm’s Hong Kong-based site, where in theory they can get uncensored information.

That is because Hong Kong, though part of China, is governed by a different – and more liberal – set of laws established when it was still a British colony.

Alert to censorship

But Google’s search results were not just being censored by the company itself – they were also being censored by the Chinese government.

So even though Google is now providing unfiltered information, China’s internet screening programme, known as the Great Firewall, is still at work.

The effect is that many search results on google.com.hk are still unavailable in China.

For example, searching the words “Tiananmen Massacre” in English in China can bring up results, but internet users are still prevented from opening these pages.

The search in Chinese gets no results, just a page with the message, “the connection was reset”.

The same message appears when searching for information in Chinese about the Dalai Lama, the exiled head of Tibetan Buddhism.

Chinese-language information about the spiritual movement Falun Gong – banned in China, but legal in Hong Kong – is also blocked. A message tells users that there is a problem loading the page.

Google’s decision to redirect its Chinese searches to Hong Kong may still have an effect on internet users in the mainland in terms of perception.

Chinese journalist and blogger Michael Anti said users in China might now become more aware that their country censors the internet.

He told the BBC: “For those people who’ve got used to self-censorship, they will notice the existence of censorship. That’s the big impact.”

Search Marketing 2.0 0

It’s no secret that marketing tactics must change over time – just imagine how far a modern newspaper would get paying boys to shout “extra” on city streets – and the search marketing industry may be changing right now.  Experts discussed how, along with how marketers should react, in an SES New York session titled Search Marketing: Analyze This.

Coverage of SES New York continues at WebProNews Videos and at WebProNews Live.  Stay with WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.

Brad Hill, the director of Weblogs, Inc., asserted that SEO has come to be about communities and personal networks as people form direct connections with sources that are important to them.  This doesn’t mean that Google’s unimportant, but the fact that the company’s scrambling to implement real-time search options does send a certain signal.

Erika Brown, an executive vice president of corporate strategy at Frost & Sullivan, then argued that SEO now stands for “search everything optimization.”  Companies need to optimize pictures, videos – everything, really – and intertwine their SEO and PR efforts.

Mobile efforts might pay off, too.  Brown recommended making mobile versions of corporate sites and making mobile apps.  Jonathan Blum, the founder and principal of Blumsday, then added that it might be best to favor the Android platform over the iPhone, stating that Android will scale past Apple’s alternative.

All in all, though, Hill maintained that marketing will continue to come down to anticipating demand.  Companies should keep that in mind in terms of content creation and search optimization.

Twitter Business Advice from 16 year old 0

If you’re not familiar with Justin Bieber (you’re excused if you’re not a 12-year-old girl), he is 16-year -old singer, who was discovered by his manager on YouTube, apparently after his mom uploaded videos of his performances so his loved ones could see them.

Justin Bieber – the Reigning King of Twitter Trending TopicsAccording to What the Trend, Justin Bieber is popular right now because, he “has a lot of fans who like to tweet about him,” and his new album was just released. It has to be more than that though. Bieber has frequently been a trending topic for over a month straight. The tweets just keep pouring in, and they’re generally not spammy.

The week of Valentine’s Day, What the Trend said, “the young Canadian R&B/pop singer has a lot of fans who like to tweet about him! He is trending these days because his solo begins the new version of We Are the World, a song for the relief efforts in Haiti.”

The next week, it was attributed to the same thing. The week after that, it was: “the young Canadian R&B/pop singer is trending these days because his new song, ‘Never Let You Go’ was released for download on iTunes this week, as well as a duet with Sean Kingston, an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He also had his birthday March 1st.”

Last week, it was: “Justin Bieber’s new album My World 2.0 comes out on March 23rd & his fans are excited. He also appeared on Z100.com, QVC, and GMTV in the UK.”

(Hat tip to Mashable for keeping an archive of top ten tweets each week).

“It’s pretty crazy to think about and just to have all the fans’ support,” Bieber said of his Twitter status in a recent interview. “Everything’s just been wonderful.”

So, Bieber has had a busy month. Still, the sheer domination over trending topics that has grown from these happenings has been quite remarkable. Have the Twitter stars just aligned for Bieber or is it all part of the marketing?  Either way,  perhaps there are lessons here that marketers could take away from Bieber’s spark of Twitter interest.

It’s tough for a brand to achieve the fandom of a teen idol (though the good news for brands is that they probably have a better shot at their own fandom lasting for the long run, as teen idols for the most part come and go, despite a few exceptions). Twitter is about what’s happening right now, though, and pop culture is ALWAYS happening right now.

Lessons to Learn from Justin Bieber

1. A stream of Justin Beiber Twitter mentions appears on the Justin Beiber site. Any site can do this, and it helps promote your Twitter presence. However, use caution, because you can’t control what people are saying about you. If you’re ok with that openness, let it show, but if you take care of your customers, chances are they won’t have much negative to say about you anyway.

2. Stay relevant to pop culture. Does that mean go and crank out a bunch of Justin Beiber articles? No, but it may help to show that you are “hip” to what’s going on in some capacity.

3. Perhaps it is hasty to assume, but in this case, I’m fairly comfortable with going out on a limb and assuming that a good percentage of Bieber’s fan-base is made up of young people. If there’s any truth to that, it would appear to mean that Twitter is being more widely adopted by younger generations than previously thought. This could be helpful to keep in mind when considering your potential Twitter audience.

4. Stay relevant not only to pop culture, but to customers. Much of Bieber’s Twitter popularity has been attributed to the various things he has been working on – appearances in songs, TV performances, new singles, an upcoming album, etc. He’s doing things that his fans find interesting and worth tweeting about. Do things that your fans find interesting, and they will hopefully tweet about it.

Is it ok to say no to Twitter? Sure, but you can’t deny the potential reach the service allows you, and this is only growing. A year from now, Twitter is likely going to be even more useful to businesses in a variety of capacities. They’re expected to have an ad platform, for one. Last week, they announced the @anywhere platform.

Don’t expect to get Justin Bieber-like fandom, but I’d wager that many businesses would consider a fraction of that to be a successful Twitter endeavor. By the way, a recent study found that brands on Facebook and Twitter are favored by consumers.

TripAdvisor Mobile Site Launched 0

Travel review site TripAdvisor said today it has officially launched its mobile website.

The TripAdvisor mobile website is now available in 17 countries and 11 different languages. The beta version of the mobile site attracted more than one million unique monthly visitors.

On TripAdvisor’s mobile site, users can find nearby restaurants, hotels, attractions and directions to them via smartphones with GPS capabilities. Users can also post reviews and opinions while traveling.

The mobile site is compatible with all major cell phones and smartphones with access to more than 30 million reviews of hotels, restaurants and attractions.

“Our mobile website offering underscores TripAdvisor’s strategy to revolutionize how consumers get travel advice,” said Steve Kaufer, founder and CEO of TripAdvisor.

“We are continually investigating additional options for users to access our millions of reviews and opinions from fellow travelers.”

TripAdvisor’s mobile website is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The company says it plans to add other countries and languages soon.

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