Popular Chinese Apps in 2021

Paloma Ahlstrand Byrne

As the Chinese market for European and American fashion and luxury brands is becoming increasingly expansive, it is important to understand the market’s use of popular media, especially when it comes to social media. Therefore, in this article, we list some of the most popular Chinese short video and social media apps including their features, to look at in 2021.

Popular Chinese Apps in 2021

Douyin

Douyin

User profile: The platform is a popular Chinese short video app, set to grow in 2021. The user-base predominantly consists of younger individuals, especially young women. In the second quarter of 2020, the app saw user numbers at 600m a day, with more than 2 billion downloads.

***Douyin was originally called Musically and launched in China. It has now become one of the fastest-growing platforms worldwide under the name TikTok.

What’s the content like? The main content remains as sharing and discovering short videos paired with music on the app. However, the content has evolved somewhat in 2020 and it is not uncommon to find videos under five minutes with robust narratives. According to an official announcement from the platform at the Douyin Creators Conference, the most popular content area features vloggers talking about their day-to-day lives. This type of content accounts for up to 21 percent of all content on the platform.

How is content distributed? Douyin’s recommendations algorithm facilitates a slow-burn dynamic. The videos a user is served up today may, in fact, have been published a long time ago – as long as users engage with a piece of content, it will continue to spread further and wider. It is useful for brands to keep an eye on the comments section on Douyin as it is sometimes considered more interesting than the videos themselves.

Brand collaborators: For brands trying to reach a younger segment, the applications are a great tool as most of their users are part of the Gen Z community- Part of what makes the platform so successful is the contribution made by KOLs. Douyin is popular with big-name brands such as Adidas, Audi, Michael Kors, Oreo, and many more.

E-commerce links: In addition to Douyin’s native e-commerce platform, videos can link directly to e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Jingdong, and more.

Suggestions

  • Running product promotions with Douyin KOLs is a useful way of creating a buzz and generate interest among users.
  • By promoting products on Douyin, it will often lead to consumers visiting other platforms like Xiaohongshu to read reviews about the product, or to check out prices on Taobao before buying.
  • As long as you remember that Douyin is typically only one touchpoint in the buyers’ journey, it can be excellent for generating awareness.

Bilibili

User profile: Bilibili’s user base is generally younger than other Chinese short-video apps, with around 80 percent of users aged between 16-25. 

The application can be described as the ‘YouTube of China.’ The average time spent daily on the platform exceeds 85 minutes, and on average 450 million videos are viewed every day on Bilibili. User engagement with the content is huge, with an average of 1.1 billion monthly user interactions. Bilibili has a prevalent feature that allows users to comment during the video, which will then appear like a bullet comment that exact moment to the side of the screen.

What’s the content like? The platform’s traditional focus has been on gaming, however, Bilibili has become increasingly attractive to fashion, luxury, and beauty brands. 

Brand collaborators: Bilibili has a strong user community, which means that as a platform they provide a strong tool for brands to generate avid customer engagement and help manifest retention among consumers. This is especially true for brands in the technology and entertainment industries, as well as what China calls “3C” brands (brands operating in the computing, communications, and consumer electronics spaces). But also with room for growth within the fashion, luxury, and beauty industries.

E-commerce links: In addition to Bilibili’s native e-commerce platform, content can link to e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD. Links can be displayed as pop-up ads or in the text fields, or as purchase links and coupon links, allowing easy transitions to other platforms.

Suggestions

  • Bilibili is currently the largest video-sharing platform in China
  • Brands should consider crafting their bullet comments in advance and strategize when to send them in the video to build a stronger bond with their followers and viewers.
  • As a platform with high user interaction, it has great potential for further growth, especially with expanding topics on the app such as fashion and beauty.

Weibo

User profile: If we describe Bilibili as a Chinese version of YouTube, then Weibo might best be related to a Chinese equivalent to Twitter. Weibo is a microblogging platform where users can upload visual content such as videos and pictures, as well as text posts. Users are also able to share on ‘Weibo Stories’ and create live streams, and of course like, comment, share, repost, and private message other users.

What’s the content like? Weibo works in a similar way to both Facebook & Twitter, which is why most brands looking to establish a presence in China are likely to have an official account on the platform to gain exposure. On Weibo, brands, and marketers implement the use of KOLs or celebrities to promote campaigns and products as part of the KOLs entertainment content. 

Brand collaborators: As it is such a good platform for reach and customer interaction, most major brands will already have an official Weibo account. Through the features of the platform, brands can create their own content, as well as collaborate with KOLs and celebrities.

E-commerce links: With the utilization of what type of content can be shared via Weibo, links for further exploration and information can easily be shared through a wide variety of content posts.

Suggestions

  • The beneficial aspect of the site is that users have real-time access to the latest trends and topics.
  • Through efficient use of the app, brands would have the great potential of establishing strong communication between brand and consumer, as well as the opportunity to widen their reach.

WeChat

wechat strategy  popular chinese apps 2021

User profile: According to the 2019 annual WeChat report, by September 2019, its monthly active users amounted to more than 1.1 billion – the population of China is around 1.4 billion. It is arguably one of the most popular Chinese social media apps and will likely continue to grow in 2021.

In the last few years, WeChat has expanded exponentially with its in-app features which means that all types of content can be accessed without the user leaving the app. These features include ‘Moments’- where users can upload videos and images that can be shared and commented on by their friends and contacts, it also has a search engine, and lastly a vast amount of mini-programs- all accessible through the app alone.

What’s the content like? There are several different ways for businesses to advertise via WeChat. These include banners in articles, ‘Moments’ advertising (similar to the advertisements you’d see in Instagram feeds), and of course partnerships together with KOLs who can share sponsored content on their personal accounts.

Brands have the ability to utilize two types of accounts on WeChat, namely Service Accounts and Subscription Accounts. Subscription accounts tend to be most similar to news feeds and are more focused on communication and information and can be shared with subscribers once daily, publicizing 1-6 articles a time. On the Service accounts, the content will appear in the follower’s chat log when posted. The content can be shared with 1-6 articles a time up to four times every month. Although there can be fewer content posts to share, is a major benefit especially with visibility as the users are notified directly.

Brand collaborators: With the wide reach of WeChat there is great space for a wide range of brands, most will have a personal profile on the app. 

E-commerce links: Brands through either Service- or Subscription accounts publish content that consumers receive either directly in their feed, or to their chat log.

Suggestions

  • Many brands see the utilization of WeChat as a basis for the opportunity to strengthen community building.
  • The app supports SEO.
  • As a site that users engage with on a daily basis, it generates a familiarity with brands and content shared on the platform in many different ways through the different features provided.

Xiaohongshu – Little Red Book

popular chinese apps 2021

User profile: The users consist of predominantly females who represent 88 percent and males who show the remaining 12 percent. The users are mostly aged between 24-30 years of age. Little Red Book had over 200M registered users in 2019, and in the second quarter of 2020, they saw over 100M users a month. 

What’s the content like? The platform sees the utilization of celebrities and KOLs to promote e-commerce sales. Brands using Little Red Book rely on the KOLs as they share their content on their personal experiences of brands with their followers. This is a great benefit to brands, as they can list the products they wish to sell directly on the site.

Brand collaborators: Little Red Book is an e-commerce platform with great opportunities for fashion, luxury, and beauty brands and products.

E-commerce links: Through the use of the application brands are able to directly link to their products and share their campaigns with consumers, both directly and through the collaboration with KOLs.

Suggestions

  • The prevalence of KOLs and celebrities on the platform help brands strengthen their place in the market and connect with the consumers, combating problematic circumstances of counterfeits.
  • The app has a strong user base and demographic which can greatly benefit brands as the communication can be very strong between brands, KOLs, and consumers.
  • There is room for further development and exploration on the platform, and brands can also utilize their functions for location discovery and social search engine functions.

Kuaishou

popular chinese short video apps

User profile: Kuaishou’s user base is spread relatively evenly between genders, with 54 percent of users male and 46 percent female. 

What’s the content like? Because Kuaishou KOLs are primarily made up of communities of authentic consumers and micro-KOLs, the content has a very strong authentic feel to it. For instance, a lot of the content features short videos of home cooking or playing pranks on friends. However, the platform also has representation in beauty, skincare, and more.

How is content distributed? The Kuaishou platform’s main content hub is the “Follow” page. In addition to providing Kuaishou a genuinely live and authentic feel, the “Follow” page helps amplify KOL content, exposing influencer content to more users.

The users also have a more active engagement on the platform, spending a lot of time on the platform interacting with content. Compared to Douyin users, Kuaishou users are generally more engaged, willing to do more than just “like” content from their favorite KOLs, but also share and comment.

E-commerce links: In addition to Kuaishou’s native e-commerce platform, videos can link to platforms like Youzan, Taobao, Kuaishou Xiaodian, and others.

Suggestions

  • Personal care brands are the biggest investors in KOLs on Kuaishou – and they see the best conversion rates. However, most of these are local personal care brands.
  • A possible outcome that might be seen this year could be that we’ll see international brands in beauty and makeup promoting their products on Kuaishou, which may well bring surprising results.

Watermelon

Watermelon china

User profile: A high majority of Watermelon users are male, and more than 70 percent of them are aged under 40. 

What’s the content like? Watermelon runs on algorithms (similar to many Bytedance-owned products) including its forerunner Toutiao. By implementing algorithm-driven recommendations, the platform delivers personalized content to users.

Watermelon videos have no time limit, and the creators are driven to provide high-quality content that is supported by the app. Through the use of algorithms and the means of user sharing, high-quality content is able to see great traffic, especially helpful when it comes to videos longer than one minute. 

Brand collaborators: Brands that have been very popular with users of Watermelon tend to be found within fields of fashion, parenting, dining, and automotive.

E-commerce links: Content creators can insert product links to e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, Taobao, daily deals platform Juhuasuan, JD.com, and Koala.com.

Suggestions

  • As the userbase is fairly well established and consistent, there are plenty of opportunities for brands to develop a strong presence through Watermelon.

Final Thoughts on Popular Chinese Apps in 2021

There are many different popular Chinese social media apps on the market in 2021, with differing features, users, and types of content. In order to establish a strong presence within the market and amongst consumers overall, brands may do well by utilizing a variety of platforms or paying special care when choosing the ones best suited to their needs.

With KOLs on the rise, both micro-and more popular ones, collaborations with KOLs to generate engaging content is a useful strategy. And equally importantly- to have a link for communication where consumers can interact with influencers who help ensure trust in brands and their products.

Content, especially combined with live-streaming has seen great success with faster sales and traffic among consumers. But as people are becoming more interested in personal connection with brands- creators might see more focus on personalized engaging and communicative content across platforms. Therefore, co-creation of content and KOL collaborations on popular Chinese social media apps seems to be the way forward in 2021.

popular chinese apps 2021

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