Bilibili: Top Social Media Trends for 2021

A five-part handbook on China’s biggest social media platforms and innovations

In the past year, Chinese consumers demonstrated remarkable resilience, transforming readily with media, retail and in particular, digital. This acceleration has been spearheaded by China’s young generation, reshaping what consumer culture looks like on a global level. A click of a button, a tap on a screen or an emoji post can collectively direct the future of any given organisation, institution and even government. And, with almost a billion citizens in total having access to the internet nationwide, social media is no longer a recreational pastime. It’s become a function central to their day-to-day lives, delivering connectivity, convenience and contributing to China’s new normal.

Bringing together platform highlights, ones to watch and expert opinion from the TONG Activation team, this five-part series addresses emerging technologies, innovations and consumer shifts happening across China digital today and tomorrow.

Bilibili 哔哩哔哩 is a popular video platform for young Chinese audiences to share and watch video content. It’s a leader in China content space for its strong community of millenial and Gen Z users, all highly active on the platform fostering strong connections, dedication and support for channels they follow.

Platform Highlights

TONG’s Media Manager Yue Li highlights its importance, “if a business that wants to tap into the younger generation of Chinese consumers, establishing a presence on this platform is an opportunity that can't be overlooked”. This is due to its unparalleled user base, an influential audience, diversity of users and its strong cultural lens.

The Influential Generation:

Bilibili is a platform with a younger skew hosting and an array of creative content and colloquialisms unique to its members - the average user is just 21 years old. For brands wanting to scale on this platform, it’s imperative to learn and immerse with the language and behaviours of audiences and keep in mind the dynamics and drivers at play. Newcomers must be adaptable and approach content localisation in a holistic way taking into account language, platform and age differences.

Major User Base:

Known as the ‘YouTube of China’, global businesses are becoming more aware and are taking advantage of its significant and engaged user base. This platform hosts around 1.1 billion user interactions monthly, with an average of 450 million videos being viewed every day. With over 170 million users in total, the scale of Bilibili is home to a diverse audience. According to mobile marketing specialists, Nativex, the majority of the Bilibili’s 170 million total users reside in either Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu. A one-size fits all targeting approach will not be successful as demographics only tell one part of the story - user interests and passion points also determine relevant environments.

Both niche content and mainstream content perform well, the emphasis for brands is to seek relevant right audiences amidst an expansive landscape. For example, Luo Xiang 罗翔说刑法, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law launched his channel on Bilibili in March 2020 and received over a million followers in only 2 days. Known for his easy-to-follow videos that explain criminal law through creative storytelling, Luo Xiang now ranks at the top both in education and social studies genres on the website with an average per video of 2.66 million views and nearly 13.2million followers. While his content is arguably ‘niche’, his videos are particularly popular among university students and the younger generation across the country and those studying a variety of subjects.

Many of the most popular channels on the site overarch demographics and geographical locations, such as those across the gaming and fitness genres with swelling audiences based across the country. Top examples include Tomato 老番茄, a finance graduate turned gamer with 14.6 million followers and an average viewership per video being 4.95 million, accumulating one of the highest follower counts on Bilibili (excluding Bilibili’s own official accounts). Zoey 周六野, ranks 5th and is the most popular channel across both the fashion and fitness genres. Known for her easy to follow regimes, tutorials and health hacks, she boasts 7.73 million followers on Bilibili with an average of 2.41 million users tuning in to each of her videos.

Walkthechat, 2020.
Walkthechat, 2020.

Ones To Watch:

Commercialisation and Sponsorship:

While the platform has traditionally been a hub for gaming, we are seeing signs of Bilibili shifting away from this and leaning towards becoming more commercialised, working with big advertisers and establishing partnerships on a larger scale.

This has been demonstrated during the Bilibili New Year's Countdown Gala of 2021, teaming up with beverage giant Genki Forest for an epic sponsorship, the first of its kind for a Bilibili event. Although sponsorship in the last decade has been common practice for traditional, online-based entertainment shows in China, Bilibili has taken a deliberate step forward to embrace this next level of sponsorship with a higher profile partner, setting the tone for what we can expect to see more of throughout 2021.

Bilibili as a cross-cultural platform:

Driving Bilibili’s growth are new communities and diversification of content creator profiles across different backgrounds and passion points. TONG has observed an influx of YouTube content creators joining the platform, making Bilibili increasingly international and cross-cultural. This year, don’t be surprised to see more international voices on the platform and collaboration between local and non-Chinese content creators.

The success of Kurt Hugo Schneider is one example of this kind of collaboration. A popular American YouTuber and songwriter, Schneider made the decision to expand his visibility to Chinese consumers by establishing his official profile on Bilibili in June 2020. Since then, he has scaled successfully gaining 1.5 million followers and over 44 million plays on Bilibili. To engage with his Chinese audience, Kurt started to learn Chinese and has since written songs and covers familiar to Chinese audiences.

Bilibili Profile Page for American Youtube Star Kurt Hugo Schneider
Bilibili Profile Page for American Youtube Star Kurt Hugo Schneider

This is part five of a five part series on Chinese social media platforms covering WeChat, Bilibili, Douyin, Weibo and RED. To read the other four articles, visit our Intelligence page.

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