So in social media today, there are two totally competing narratives. On one side: Twitter’s getting the presidential treatment, Facebook had got users on pins and needles and hedging bets on a possible assist from Skype, and Google+ continues to find fanboys in a tizzy. On the other side: Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Sean Kingston are flocking to Chinese social apps, like Sina Weibo.
But it’s clear that in everybody’s fight to the top, the big three social players in the U.S. are still awkwardly dodging the issue of international reach. That is, in territories like China where the government controls the internet, our top players are locked out of securing a much larger of the world. Clearly celebrities like Cruise, Kingston, and even Radiohead realize that this is a neglected and very big market.
With Chinese celebrities averaging roughly over 2 million more followers apiece than some of the most well-known names in the West, this is a huge market that celebrities outside of China are not being able to reach. And given the rapid rate of development in social (last week, we got Google+, this week we got Facebook’s answer to Google+’s group video chat feature), a contender will eventually stand up and serve as a connection for American celebrities and businesses looking to reach and monetize such a vast swath of audiences.
But existing titans like the big three might would do well in the interim to muse spin-offs of existing products whose sole purpose is to develop inroads into territories where the internet is censored by the government. Once that ground is broken, they can establish a way to bridge users of those spin-off products back to the rest of the ecosystem of their respective apps.