Bilibili (also known as B-station) is one of the most exciting social media platforms for Chinese Gen Z right now. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a video streaming and sharing site with a vibrant, youthful and dedicated user base. While Bilibili is often compared to Western platforms like YouTube, it’s something quite different and quite special.
Today, we explain exactly what Bilibili is, its staggering growth rates and user base, and how it can supercharge your Chinese digital marketing strategy.
What is Bilibili?
Bilibili hit the Chinese social media market in 2009. Since then, it’s grown to be one of the country’s biggest streaming sites. Bilibili currently boasts over 293 million monthly active users, a number set to top 400 million by the end of 2023.
Initially marketed for fans of ACG (that’s Anime, Comics and Gaming to those in the know), Bilibili has also branched out into video on topics as diverse as fashion, technology, food and lifestyle. This move proved successful, with average daily video plays close to 3 billion in the first quarter of 2022. As an increase of 84% on the previous year, it’s a meteoric rise showing no signs of slowing.
With the slogan “all the videos you love are on Bilibili”, this innovative China video platform is now an unmissable tool for brands building deep connections with Chinese consumers.
What features does Bilibili offer?
If there’s one feature that sets Bilibili apart, it’s their “bullet comments” or danmu. Essentially, these are real-time captions, letting users post comments that shoot across the video screen. These witty remarks are visible at specific moments, creating a community-driven chat room experience.
It’s a bit like watching a movie with all your chattiest friends. During key moments, comments wash over the screen in a tidal wave. Bilibili’s young user base loves these funny comments, often citing them as a key reason for returning to the platform time and time again.
As well as this, Bilibili hosts a massive array of high-quality user-generated content. Its videos are mainly created by dedicated individual users, accounting for over 89% of content on the platform.
With over 1 million content creators (providing over 2.8 million monthly videos), there’s a constant stream of high-quality videos to keep users hooked. And as individual creators build their communities, the platform grows as a result… it’s a win, win for everyone involved.
Who uses Bilibili?
Bilibili hosts a Chinese Gen Z and Millennial user base. Over 80% of Bilibili users are under 35, with an average age of 21.
Unusually for video-streaming websites, it’s also got a balanced gender split. With 49% female and 51% male users, it’s a pretty even spread for brands marketing to Chinese men and women.
As well as their youthful nature, Bilibili users are also extremely loyal. They’re what’s known as “sticky”, with active communities focused on specific niches. In fact, the average daily usage time is 95 minutes – a record high for Chinese social media platforms.
While other apps like TikTok rely on algorithms to push viral content, Bilibili depends on the power of its communities.
It’s all great news for brands hoping to engage young, affluent audiences with their China marketing strategies.
What’s behind Bilibili’s success?
To create a Chinese digital marketing strategy that really works on Bilibili, understanding why it’s so popular is vital. There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, the China market for video has exploded in recent years.
The number of video users rose to 944 million in December 2021, an increase of over 40 million since the summer. Accounting for almost 95% of the entire internet population… it’s a staggering amount.
More specifically though, Bilibili prides itself on exclusivity and community standards.
It’s the only China video platform that requires users to complete a 100-question quiz to sign-up.
With topics ranging from Bilibili’s company history to Japanese manga artists and community culture, it keeps quality high and problems low.
Bilibili also actively develops a community of professional video uploaders, who keep fans onboard with high-quality content. They’ll sign-up as exclusive content creators and partner with Bilibili on video pitches, brand collaborations and trending topics amongst Chinese Gen Z.
What are the opportunities for brands on Bilibili?
If you thought Bilibili was just about video marketing, you’d be wrong. The platform offers fantastic video-based prospects for brands, but there’s also much more.
Bilibili offers two main Chinese digital marketing opportunities:
1. Direct Influencer Collaborations
To help brands pair with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), Bilibili launched an official KOL selection platform called Huahuo or “Sparkle”. With this official channel, brands can measure their e-Commerce conversions and see KOL’s engagement rates before signing up.
As the platform’s young content creators are at the heart of its success, this is one of the most popular video marketing strategies. And if you’re wondering about effectiveness? Well, the numbers speak for themselves.
The number of brands using Sparkle increased by an astounding 2,050% between 2020 and 2021. Of brands using this novel KOL-matching service, 75% returned for follow-up campaigns.
To give just one example, a Bilibili influencer He Tongxue worked with the tech-giant Apple to create exclusive video content. After interviewing Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO), the resulting video racked-up over 210 million views in just one day.
2. Paid Advertising and Sponsorship
Like many Chinese social media platforms, Bilibili offers a wide variety of paid advertising. This can be a highly effective way of improving your China branding, conversions and awareness.
Brands choose from a whole host of options, including cost per click, per impression or predictive tools. There are news feed ads (appearing directly on a user’s video feed page), native banner ads (either on the homepage or on videos themselves) and sponsorship options. This last option is the most expensive, but lets companies support Bilibili’s innovative creations – with their name listed underneath.
Another option (used by the luxury jewelry brand Swarovski) are “splash screen ads” that appear when users open the app. When combined with KOL collaborations for extra resonance, it’s an exciting way to make a splash with your China marketing…