July 28, 2018 (Sat)
Facebook, China, and Domains
Image courtesy of Setn.com
He married a Chinese woman. He learned Chinese. And he connects with young Chinese. Mark Zuckerberg has made a lot of efforts to win friendship in China, including giving a talk completely in Mandarin at a top-notch Chinese university. Yet, Facebook is not in the Middle Kingdom. Well, it actually was in China – only for a few days.
On July 18, the company name 脸书科技 (Lian Shu Ke Ji) was registered in Hangzhou with Facebook being the sole shareholder. "Lian Shu" is the Chinese translation for Facebook. When this news appeared in Chinese media a few days later, the registration suddenly disappeared -- probably because the central government did not like the local decision.
Zuckerberg has been interested in China for a long time. In 2007, only three years after the company was founded, he registered Facebook.cn. Subsequently, he has tried different Chinese brand translations and acquired corresponding domains, as follows:
脸书 (Lian Shu)
This is a literal translation from "face book". Matching LianShu.com was registered in 2003 and recently sold for 220,000 yuan. However, it is not known whether Facebook is the new owner. The domain has not been put to use.
脸谱 (Lian Pu)
This is a translation from "face book". Matching LianPu.com was registered in 2006 and currently owned by someone in Hangzhou. The domain has not been put to use.
飞书 (Fei Shu)
This is a mixed approach. "fei" rhymes with "face" and "shu" is literal translation from "book". FeiShu.com was registered in 2006 and acquired by Facebook in 2015. The domain has not been put to use.
Based on the Chinese company information and Baidu search, I conclude that the Chinese brand for Facebook is now "Lian Shu". Unfortunately, Facebook does not seem to own LianShu.com, and LianShu.cn is already used by a Chinese game developer. The social media giant needs to secure these two domains for brand protection and future use in China.
So, what is a good domain strategy? If you start a business with global aspiration, build it on a brand-matching .com domain and also acquire the corresponding .cn domain. As soon as you can translate your brand into Chinese, acquire the matching Chinese .com and .cn domains simultaneously. Doing so will help you secure the two biggest economies in the world -- and many more.
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