How to communicate with the younger generation for effective social media marketing in China
The west considers YouTube the dominant video platform. However, Netflix and TikTok are beginning to challenge this standing. Because China has banned these western platforms, you must change your social media marketing strategy for Chinese platforms. And sadly, it isn’t as simple as doing the same thing on a different platform.
BiliBili – A brief introduction
Bilibili started in 2010 as a gathering place for ACG (animation, comics, and games) fans. This attracted young people to the interactive video content. The platform has now expanded to different genres, including food, travel, fashion, beauty, and so on. And it still specifically targets the younger generation, especially Gen Z.
A notable feature of BiliBili is “bullet comments.” These are real-time comments on a video that fly across the screen from right to left. YouTube and Twitch offer a live streaming comments section for viewers to interact with each other and the streamer. However, BiliBili bullet comments are embedded in the video itself. Furthermore, previously uploaded videos can also feature bullet comments.
This ‘in your face’ way of showing what other viewers are saying conveys a sense of community and interactivity. All of which can influence the overall tone of the video.
BiliBili sets itself apart
Like the west, China also has an incredibly competitive video-sharing platform market. The bigger platforms such as Youku, Tencent video, KuaiShou, and DouYin, are all fighting to be the top dog. That said, this article dives deep into how to use BiliBili in your social media marketing strategy.
BiliBili users are younger, more connected, and form stronger groups on the site based on their interests. These users also share many inside jokes and memes, further conveying a sense of an exclusive community.
Moreover, the CEO of BiliBili, Chen Rui, promised to prohibit in-stream video ads, allowing for a better customer experience. This is important because in-stream video ads are a big pain point for Chinese consumers. The ads are usually very long (typically 60 seconds) and un-skippable unless the user pays for a premium membership.
Thus, by excluding these in-stream ads, BiliBili set itself apart from its rivals and won the favor and loyalty of its consumers. However, this decision also caused BiliBili to miss out on a major portion of ad revenue as well.
Despite being a video-sharing platform, BiliBili has diverse business functions and revenue streams. Their four primary sources of revenue are:
- Mobile Games.
- Advertising/value-added services.
With Gaming being a leading sector in China, it is no surprise that published mobile games make up half of BiliBili’s revenue annually. On the other hand, Ad revenue and E-commerce only make up 13% and 7% of annual revenue, respectively.
Even so, BiliBili has and still is running at a loss, with its revenue streams not covering the costs.
2020: The Turning Point for BiliBili
In 2020, BiliBili saw many positive changes and results.
BiliBili’s CEO Chen Rui wanted the revenue stream to be more balanced. So he focused on value-added services, including premium subscriptions, live streaming, and a comic book platform.
Chen Rui was quite successful as reflected in BiliBili’s 2020 Q4 report. It revealed that these value-added services surpassed mobile games as its biggest revenue generator for the quarter.
BiliBili’s monthly active users also doubled from 101 million in Q1 of 2019 to 202 million in Q4 of 2020.
Case Studies in Action
That year big-name brands entered the scene and began posting videos on the platform. First was Tencent on July 1st. Tencent was having contractual disputes with a potential client, “Laoganma,” the famed chili oil brand in China. Despite being a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Tencent discovered the client was an imposter.
To appeal to the audience on BiliBili regarding this gaffe they made a lighthearted video mocking the client. They titled the video “I Was the Penguin That Ate the Fake Chili Sauce.” Since one of Tencent’s brand mascots is a penguin, they superimposed a penguin head on a woman’s body, singing about eating fake chili sauce.
2nd Case Study
Next, XiaoMi’s CEO Lei Jun made an account on BiliBili on July 28th. He explained that he would like to make curated and engaging content for the people of BiliBili. The video included a satirical soundtrack poking fun at his English-speaking ability, which was a focal point in the comment section.
3rd Case Study
Lastly, on October 23rd, BMW posted a video on BiliBili which featured an animated horse. BMW’s Chinese name Baoma 宝马, literally translates to “Precious Horse”. The educational video spoke about transportation before and after the industrial revolution. Then explained how the word ‘horsepower’ came to be.
Besides being informative, the video was comedic, artsy, and avant-garde compared to BMW’s traditional style. This dispelled some negative beliefs about BMW. Such as being exclusive, high tech, and unrelatable to the younger consumer.
These three cases of brands entering the BiliBili platform all share certain commonalities. They made curated content that matches the culture, tonality, and overall vibe of BiliBili users. The vibe is characterized as being young, satirical, witty, and unapologetic.
Brands carefully curating content for BiliBili users further reflect the strong sense of identity, exclusivity, and unique culture of the platform. On the other hand, more serious brands can show up humble and lighthearted and appeal to the younger generation.
Opportunities for brand marketing on BiliBili in 2022
People born in the ’90s and Generation Z have become the primary consumers in the current Chinese market. Thus, designing a brand that appeals to these younger consumer groups is becoming increasingly important.
A vital component of any brand design is its content marketing, which aims to attract more consumers to a brand. With BiliBili having a group that values high-quality curated content means any content that fits the bill will have the potential to reap great rewards.
Therefore, if you are considering creating content on BiliBili for your brand, here are some tips to help you along the way:
1. Clear marketing goals and target demographic
Before opening any social media account, your brand must define its brand positioning and marketing goals. This is a fundamental point that is straightforward yet needs to be emphasized.
As mentioned before, BiliBili has a real-time “bullet comments” feature that makes the content of the video much more interactive. Thus, you must come up with an Intellectual property (IP) with distinct personality traits. When done well, the bullet comments will complement the talking points of the IP. This creates a sense of dialogue that is engaging and memorable for the audience.
Tencent did this with their fake chili oil video. Xiaomi, made their CEO a meme for his eccentric personality. BMW used the animated horse that stemmed from the wordplay of BMW’s Chinese name, “Precious Horse.” For your brand to target the correct demographic, there needs to be extensive research conducted to find the right community. BiliBili is a platform with clear divisions between different groups. There are over 2 million hashtags and dozens of different aesthetic styles for content. Hence, if your brand does not have a transparent and formulated content plan, it will be tough to get attention from your target community or demographic.
2. Marketing styles need to be innovative
BiliBili content focuses on being engaging yet light at the same time. Therefore, content that is too blatant in terms of trying to sell something will not fit in with the overall content culture of BiliBili. It will even garner backlash from the target community.
This is why brand IPs are a necessity. As mentioned above, a brand can create a distinct and engaging IP to tactfully garner attention from their community. While at the same time not being too sales-oriented. The IP will act as the bedrock and amass a following, build brand exposure, and increase brand credibility.
After building rapport within the community, your brand can leverage the opportunities from critical dates. These could be essential product launches or shopping festivals, to engage in heavy promotion.
Another excellent method is to partner with original content creators on BiliBili. However, it’s important to give the content creator a lot of trust and autonomy to promote the product in their way. They best understand their community and seeing how they promote a product can be a great inspiration for future marketing ideas.
3. Be on top of internet meme trends, and be able to poke fun at yourself
Companies typically have a conventional method of brand promotion and marketing. However, the communities in BiliBili are young and resonate more with the hottest internet trends, memes, and topics. Thus, if your brand wants to resonate with the communities on BiliBili, you must follow and understand these trends.
The internet does not discriminate, and every brand could be the target of mockery or satire. Thus, another point is for you to have the ability to poke fun at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. This playfulness is key to earning respect and attention from BiliBili communities as well. And money will follow the respect and attention.
So, do you have to use BiliBili in your Social Media Marketing to be
Social media dominates the day-to-day lives of most of the world’s population. China’s economy is no stranger to the powerful influence of a strong social media strategy. BiliBili attracts the younger generation and the communities built within it. So, if you are targeting younger buyers, you need to be on BiliBili to follow this hot trend.
Is it absolutely necessary for you to have a firm grasp of each of China’s social media channels?
No. But if you want to leverage the power of social media marketing in China then you need to invest in learning it or outsourcing it. We can almost guarantee that without using BiliBili in your social media marketing strategy that your company will not thrive, and may not survive.
With almost a decade of navigating and excelling in China’s ever-expanding social media channels, GAB China has:
- Amassed invaluable hands-on experience,
- Developed unique strategies,
- Built a powerful skill set, and
- Developed client-focused values that you can trust.
We want to be your partner in your China Social Media Marketing.
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