Talking about video hosting sites, Youtube is the solo mass-market player without question in spite of the challenge from Vimeo. However, the video landscape in China shows a different picture.
Youku/Tudou, Tencent Video and IQiyi split the market and compete fiercely on the audience and revenue in the past few years.
In 2012, Youku, at that time the biggest video site, merged with Tudou, kept its traditional advantage on self-made videos and has grown steadily ever since. But they didn’t expect the fast growth and direct competition from IQiyi.
The video content online shifted from self-made videos, to purchased TV series, and now towards self-made shows. The revenue model changes accordingly. In the old days, those ideo sites only benefit from the traffic and ads income. When the video sites invested in exlcusive TV series competing with traditional TV stations, membership subscription starts picking up. Audience also becomes more comfortable with the ideas of paying for high-quality content and skipping the long compulsory ads. IQiyi, focusing on purchasing top TV shows and broadcast rights at the beginning and now growing its territory in self-made show, announced that its members are over 20 million in 2016, i.e. the revenue from membership subscription is equivalent as the one from paid advertisement.
Another wave of change came this year. The derivative products from the shows or TV series see a strong growth. Audience tends to extend the discussion of the show to the reality. Mobile games, aligned with TV series characters and story background, and collaterals with the show’s elements, which can vary from food to cosmetics, are the most common and well-received ones.
Bilibili stays outside of the battle of the Big Three and continues growing among the young generation. Tan Mu, its key feature, allows the comments fly across the screen while people watch the videos. It motivates people to comment more and laugh over others’ comments. The high engagement from Tan Mu feature brings in a new revenue source for Bilibili other than VIP members and traffic for ads. KFC’s successful live broadcasting campaign on Bilibili pointed out a new direction for the integrated campaign - The copy is customized for the audience, two platform hosts in Japanese maid costume are invited to live broadcast them eating 50 pieces of fried chicken. For 15min session, the video received 190,000 views and over 3000.
Therefore, if a brand wants to enter the video site, Seeniun Media’s suggestion is as below:
Seeniun Media, a full advertising agency with focus on China, will help you produce video that suits Chinese audience, as well as launch video ad campaign in China. Contact us now!
Weibo, once the biggest social platform in China but stuck in big challenges 4 years ago , now comes back to the top player group after four years of hard work. Let Seenium Media dig into its high advertisement revenue, trending hashtags and topics, and increasing micro- influencers, to see the secrets behind a successfully transferred brand.
Weibo, known as “Chinese Twitter” global wise, was once the biggest the social platform in China before 2013. In 2013, it encountered a big crisis that almost killed the company and value proposition, when the government, for the sake of sensitivity, blocked some top KOLs and largely discouraged the different voices.
In April 2014, Weibo went public. It was said that Wechat would replace Weibo in no time because it lost the core assets – the celebrity KOLs. However, the stats from Weibo in 2016 shows us an inspirational story. It has 0.15 billion daily active users. Weibo’s total revenue grew 70% year-on-year in 2016, meanwhile, the profit jumped by 180% in the same year. Weibo grows to almost twice Twitter’s value, while Twitter is suffering from an inevitable decline. The success of Weibo reflects the massive changes in the social ecosystem happened in China.
Three years ago, text and up-to-nice pictures were the dominant content formats, however, videos and live broadcasting by the celebrities, social influencers and medias changed the game plan. Weibo provided the live broadcasting platform, which enabled the existing brand users to run their own campaign with Weibo’s support on trending hashtags and ads. Weibo also captured the social phenomena, such as “315 Consumer Day” and collaborated with traditional TV to integrate the channels. One of best example is Weibo’s collaboration with CCTV New Year’s Gala. It brought the offline traffic online and also generated heating discussion under the same topic. The user stickiness increased by 37.1%.
Another example is the Weibo live broadcasting and online engagement during Rio Olympics in 2016. Over 22 billion audience watched the live broadcasting on Weibo, while Olympics related videos were viewed for over 1 trillion times. Many athletes became famous, such as Zhang Jike who was sponsored by Dubai from 2016 to 2017.
Three years ago, Weibo was the battlefield of the big KOLs, now it seeds the micro-influencers into sub-category and encourages them to position themselves. After the government blocked a few celebrity influencers’ accounts, the influencer ecosystem shifted to micro-influencers. Weibo developed 55 categories to “cultivate” influencers who have niche audience but also high conversion and engagement rate. Like Youtube, Weibo aim at more than bringing traffic to influencers but expanding distribution channels. Therefore, Weibo launched the vertical multi-channel-networks (MCN) plan. Weibo no long gets involved in the business development and operations for the influencers.
Those who didn’t drop Weibo and embraced Wechat four years ago are now attracted by the new format and content. The Weibo users from tier one and two cities remain, while the new users steadily come from tier three and four cities. Those between 16 and 25 are the core users of Weibo, making up of almost 70% of the whole users. Weibo focuses the product feature on the networking function only instead of invading messaging function.
Weibo started with copying the features from Twitter and built itself into a news-oriented fast consuming social platform. Throughout the years, the product positioning has been changed. Weibo caught the latest trends, successfully walked away from Twitter’s old track and developed a new business cycle.
The debate whether APP is worth the investment has always been there. The typical argument lies in the competition against other APPs and no major alternative in the market. However, Chinese brand marketers face a different decision.
Wechat launched a new function called “Mini Program” in Jan and WeChat announced a new feature called “store mini-app” in its latest efforts to promote the application of its mini program. The new function will promote the formation of a benign business path in which official account owners publish store information on WeChat while users buy services or goods offline guided by the feature.
Before this critical move, Wechat has long split public account into subscription account and service account, so that customer service oriented brand is able to develop their own API and customize the function for engagements such as appointment booking and order tracking. However, limits of service account are quite clear – user is allowed to publish content once a week, while the engagement is quite static.
The benefits for the users are easy to spot: it saves time and efforts to download another one of thousands of APP, go through the registration process and familiarise yourself to the APP, then after two weeks, you can't even remember what's the APP for.
For the brands, it is much cheaper to develop a Mini Program within Wechat framework than an APP from the scratch. For the SMEs and service providers who have frequent engagement with audience, Mini Program is not only a more affordable option but also an option that removes an extra step for user to download. More importantly, it is integrated with Wechat pay, therefore, one-click to complete the payment instead of saving the credit card information on the APP.
Looking at the top 10 Mini Program list, more than half ranking in the first 20 are related to lifestyle, such as O2O bike renting, Didi Chuxing (Chinese Uber), Tencent video, McDonald’s and C-trip flight booking.
Mini Program hasn’t replaced APP yet, not yet. The marketers are not too concerned at this stage. Mini Program is designed to serve all the brands, however, the fundamental objective is to consolidate Tencent and Wechat’s stickiness. The brand prefers owning the confidential user stats and monitoring the their behavior and performance to getting restricted by Wechat rules and regulations. However Mini Program is flexible for the developer side, it still largely depends how much freedom Tencent wants to give the brand.
APPs are also seeking for new angles to break the barrier of downloading and encourage the constant engagement. Gucci travel APP releases a new function and showcases another possibility to succeed on APP. The new function is named “Gucci Places,” which offers customers and travellers alike the chance to take a close look at some of the global destinations that have left their mark on the this classic brand.
Facing the fierce competition, APP is harder and harder to attract new users without massive marketing spend. For those who first enter the Chinese social media territory, the simple subscription account is a better start which can publishes one post a day and easily switch to service account later on. The community management can be done like Facebook or Instagram.
If looking at Huawei’s regional brand ambassadors, you will generate a list of “UAE Top Social Influencers” in no time. The magic of social influencers to the advertisers is not uncommon in this digital era. The capability to reach out to a highly target audience group who share the same interest or values is what every advertiser is in pursuit.
Have a close look at the western and Arab social influencers. Those on the top list are mostly actresses, fashion bloggers, models, singers, all sorts of celebrities or a bunch of good-looking people who always focus the lenses on themselves and present their daily life to the world. Snapchat and Instagram are their main platforms. Visually strong content is a must.
However, as China has grown its own digital world rules and platforms, social influencers in China play a different game as well. The social influencers, more often called Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), come from all folks of life: their identity could vary from novelist like @Fengtang, fashion blogger like @Gogoboi, film cementation like @DuSheMovie, fashion magazine like @Bazaar, to an economist @WuXiaoBo.
The name “Key Opinion Leader” itself tells the difference from “Social Influencers”. The commonality of these social influencers is that they all expertise in one specific area and impose a profound impact on their fans. Those who can interpret the academic research, form their own opinion and spread the knowledge enjoy the popularity as well. The knowledge becomes more accessible and digestible to the general public.
The KOLs could be an individual, a well-known brand, or a virtual brand identity, as long as it proves its value proposition. A good example is @LuoZhengYu, who produces talk show and makes himself famous for commenting on the historical events. There are opposite attitudes to his talk show. Some believe that he inspires more people to learn history, Nevertheless, other people argue that he doesn't give enough in-depth to the facts or even oversimplify the right-or-wrong.
No matter what people's attitude to these KOLs, they do change the advertising landscape. Let’s compare the format of content between Chinese influencers and foreign influencers. The function of precise targeting is born as the fruit of social influencers all over the world. But it is presented differently. Due to the nature of Wechat, KOLs in China enable to write a long blog on Wechat account with images, video, GIF and QR-code, which is close than a blog than a quick posting platform like Instagram. In this sense, the line between media and social influencers are very blurry.
The complexity of the content decides that the advertisement collaboration with these influencers varies. For example, if a fashion blogger in UAE is paid to talk about my new collection, she might post a picture with the new cloth and tag the brand in the text, with a few behind-the-scene Instagram stories. Or she might do a few snaps and Instagram Live while attending the brand event. Then what’s equivalent in China?
Live broadcasting on the event is the same, while editorials are different. The cheapest option is to repost what is given by the brand in the lower rank. However, Most high-profile influencers are reluctant to share the brand content directly but to write the editorial blog themselves, to keep the brand consistency. Some even mark the editorial content, so that their followers can choose whether to click and consume the ads. The more expensive option is to . Instead of a hard-sell, the KOLs prefer choosing an angle which has no difference to their regular content. The promoted brand and product will be bought out only at the very end in a subtle way.
Identifying the right KOLs for the brands and managing these influencers to deliver on-brand message are not easy. Seeniun Media, the integrated marketing agency in Dubai with a special focus on China, can help you handle KOLs and plan your campaign in China and Dubai.
Contact us now!
Image how your life would be with no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and Google products? 1.3 billion Chinese have no choice but develop its own social media network and tools. You can find almost all the equivalent websites or platforms in China -- Weibo is Chinese Twitter, Youku/Tudou is the localized Youtube, Baidu dominates the search engine market. However, the social media giant is no doubt Wechat.
What's Wechat? It is a combination of Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram, Paypal, Uber and RSS. It has 889million active users and 10 million corporate accounts to push content and provide services.
If you download it for the first time, wechat is just another version of Whatsapp, which is commonly used in Asia predominately in China. You might drop Wechat after playing with it for an hour, and find no joy on exploring all the mysterious but hidden functions it has. But I can be your first wechat friend (xiniwei911) to chat about everything you wanna know about China.
After the personal level, you may start exploring official account by following DUBAIREN on Wechat (press “Plus” button on the right hand corner, then “add contacts”, choose “official accounts” and type “dubairen2009”, and ADD). Entering the official account, you will find it a mini-website/blog. You will receive daily articles in the “subscription” .
However, Wechat’s magic is far more than chatting and information consumption platform.
Magic QR Code
Wechat’s basic function of adding contacts is through QR Code. QR Code might be one of the most important tools to connect online and offline user experience, and an alternative way of exchanging business card in China.
Scan personal or corporate QR code and save as contacts. Scan the brand QR code to redeem the discount, visit the content, follow the official account or play the interactive game. Scan the QR code on the restaurant table for the electronic menu and pay the bill.
Red Pocket and Wechat Pay
Giving away red pocket has been an old tradition in China, when people celebrate the Spring Festival, big birthday, marriage and newborn baby. With Wechat-red-pocket function, those who are not physically there to give family and friends find a perfect solution.
More interestingly, the Wechat red-pocket introduces a mechanism for the group. You set a amount of red pocket and number of people to share it. The system will automatically split the money into random amounts. Those who “grab and open” the red pocket first will see his luck, i.e. you might get the least money among your friends even if you open the red-pocket first. But if you are too late, you might end up finding an empty red-pocket. (If you can’t manipulate the luck, train yourself to become fast-hand!)
Behind red-pocket is Wechat Pay. As another old tradition, Chinese like to keep and carry cash. Not even the introduction of credit card changes this mentality. However, Wechat pay successfully replaces the changes and small bills in the restaurants and food court. People no longer need to carry coins to visit food court, or ask waiter to split the bill. Everything can be done on Wechat with a QR-coding and 5s scanning.
How to use Wechat Pay is very likely your following question. One simple step: link your E-wallet to a Chinese debit or credit card...!
E-commerce and Monetization
There are a dozen of ways to make money on Wechat:
If the official account has a great quality follower base (over 5,000), it can sell the banner position for programmatic buy, similar as website banner ads. But it only gets paid if people click on the banner.
If the personal official account has a close community, he/she can encourage the readers to pay “awards” for the efforts.
Selling stuff on Wechat is another approach. Inspired by Alibaba, Wechat enables small business owners to set up a “mini-shop” and sell their products there. The product description, customer service and links to review or other products won’t be much less overwhelming than Taobao, however, it is a great channel to sell clothes, toys, travel products.
New York Times made a brilliant video last year on Wechat: How Wechat is in every piece of your life.
Enjoy it yourself, and we will talk about how to use Wechat as a brand soon, and Chinese social influencers' management.