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Empowerment for international talents & third culture kid

How to produce short viral videos and make money on Chinese social media platforms





Attention has become a scarcity.


Drawing attention is the first step in the series of winning a client. As we say, in the age of the attention economy, those who succeed in attracting people’s attention will make money.


Short and visual content is probably the best way to attract people’s attention, especially short videos.


In this article, I will talk about 4 basic rules for creating video content and different ways of monetization for any educator, creator, or marketer who is interested in online marketing and the Chinese market.


Below are 4 basic rules that will help you create videos that will most likely stand out.


1. “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” Mindset


It’s best to always tailor your content following Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because no matter which industry you belong to, you have to deal with humans.


There are 5 basic needs of human beings: physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization.


For example, during a pandemic, when a lot of uncertainties are involved in everyday life, safety needs become crucial as most people want to protect their health and wealth. If you are in the F&B industry, financial advisory industry, or healthcare and wellness industry, you can create short videos to educate people on many topics and provide practical tips to manage their health, safety, and wealth better.


The sense of connection and friendship is also very important, especially under the current circumstances where mobilities are limited. In an always-connected world with social media and smart devices, people crave real connections. Video creation is not just about business or the practical side of things, in fact, it can also be used as a tool to touch people’s emotions.


The key is to not sell your products or services directly but generously sharing authentic information & knowledge with others and connecting with them.


2. AI mindset – understanding the characteristics of each platform and how algorithms are used to distribute content to users


Several platforms distribute video content to their users, but each platform uses a different algorithm to recommend videos and targets different groups of users. The important thing is to understand the characteristics of each platform and the recommendation/distribution system.


Some popular platforms include Kuai Shou, Bilibili & Dou Yin (TikTok).


While Kuai Shou’s current core audience is Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, and nonurban areas in China, they have also started expanding to Tier 1 cities. Bilibili’s core audience is young students & professionals, aged 16-26. Dou Yin (TikTok) probably has the most diverse and largest group of viewers.


With regards to the algorithm, Kuai Shou is more focused on creators and Dou Yin (TikTok) is more focused on viewers.


For example, once a new video is posted on the social platform, Dou Yin (TikTock) first recommends it to a small group of users. If the initial feedback is good (based on the users’ comments, likes & the number of views), then the platform recommends it to more users. If the video continues to perform well, it is recommended to more and more users and stays trendy for a long time.


On the other hand, Kuai Shou recommends videos to its users based on users’ interests and social preferences, etc., and tries to match creators with the same type of viewers. The platform provides an equal chance to all videos so that hot videos don’t stay on top forever. Each creator gets the same amount of exposure to attract his/her targeted audience.


In summary, Dou Yin (TikTok) is content-oriented and Kuai Shou is people-oriented, especially creators. The key is to identify your ideal customer group and test a few platforms, after which you leverage your strengths to focus on one platform.


3. Value Chain mindset – which component of the value chain can you provide massive values to?


Competitive advantage is not just important in the operational & sales side of your business, but also online marketing, including video content.


The essence of any great video is to provide value.


First, you need to identify the core values of your domain (category). For example, when we talk about food -- presentation, taste, smell & the recipe are the most important components.


Secondly, you need to understand which component you can provide a lot of value to, whether it is the easy & quick recipe, great taste, or the aesthetic aspect of the food.


Lastly, to consistently provide that key value to your audience, you need to understand what skills/capabilities you have to learn and improve.


The key is to focus on one of the key values of the category that you have chosen. All your video creations should consistently show and enhance such a value to distinguish yourself from others.


4. Improv-novation Mindset – Do micro innovation by creating a new subcategory under the existing category of content to distinguish yourself.


What is the best way to build a new brand? A lot of times, a major innovation is probably not needed to differentiate yourself, but small improvements and upgrades in your content work best. Based on different user scenarios and needs, you can create a new subcategory.


For example, the mobile phone category can be further divided into photo mobile phones, game mobile phones, mobile phones for seniors etc. Each subcategory has different characteristics and can attract a specific type of customer/viewer.


Doing micro innovation of the video content is to add new components to the video types that have already been validated and liked by a lot of users on these platforms.

If you are in the wellness industry and share healthy breakfast recipes with your audience, you can create videos focusing on healthy breakfasts that are especially for kids. Videos for healthy breakfast recipes are quite popular on social media, and by creating a new subcategory, your videos will not only get a higher chance to become popular but also attract a new group of viewers/customers.


The key is to combine the popular types or topics of the content with different user scenarios and your strengths to create a new category hence fulfilling the needs of a specific group of customers.


With regards to monetization, there are 4 ways of monetization through short videos.


1. Short video + traffic


The basic and most common way is to create viral videos and increase the number of views and likes. Ads on platforms can be added to popular videos and displayed multiple times to the viewers. The creator/marketer can earn money based on the platform’s Ad profit-sharing model.


2. Short video + e-commerce


You can live stream and present products to the audience. Most of these platforms including Kuai Shou and Dou Yin (TikTok) have a shopping cart function and are integrated with e-commerce giants like Taobao and Jingdong (JD) so while you are live streaming and interacting with your audience, you can add links and direct them to the e-store to buy products.


Selling products online through video live streaming is quite trendy in China. If your presentation is reliable and people like your content, you can close a lot of sales during each live stream session.


3. Short video + selling knowledge and educational content


With new technologies, learning has diversified.


There are many ways of learning outside the traditional classroom and learning costs have been reduced significantly.


For knowledge workers and educators, it is good to sell your knowledge and educational content using short videos.


First, you can post short videos around a specific topic or problem your targeted audience is interested in and share your knowledge, then you can sell the upgraded content with a course that comprises a series of full videos/audios.


Secondly, you can also post educational videos to attract traffic to your platform (i.e., create a community) and then sell solutions to your community on a subscription model. Solutions can include a monthly consulting service, or online or offline courses/seminars, etc.


Lastly, create videos to teach people in your area of expertise, then put the content of these videos together and write a book about it. Publishing a book not only summarizes and synthesizes the most important knowledge of a specific domain but also provides advanced learners with deep knowledge and an efficient learning system.


4. Short video + Selling Ads


Using short videos is an effective way to promote a brand.


There are 3 ways of selling Ads through short videos:


a. Product placement: When creators work with a brand, they can show the product’s logo in the video’s storyline.


For example, when creating a video about cooking or a healthy recipe, you can show your audience which products you are using while displaying the brand in your cooking process. It doesn’t look like a hard sale but more like an advice or a recommendation and sounds natural as well.


b. Video content creation for brands around a specific topic: Platforms such as Kuai Shou, Dou Yin (Tiktok), etc. have a database of advertisers and brand marketers and they match them with the video creators. As a creator, you can create videos for a brand based on its products’ characteristics and your positioning.


c. Paid video creation for title sponsor’s campaign: Large platforms collaborate with brands (title sponsors) to organize activities regularly. They invite creators, especially those with a large following to participate in these activities. Creators get paid by creating videos that meet the requirements and include hashtags set by the platforms. This is a good way of making money while increasing your own channel/brand’s visibility.


Nowadays, short videos are very popular in the Chinese market and a lot of creators, educators, and marketers have successfully built their brands and monetized their content through them. However, building a successful brand requires a lot of effort. Before you see the results, you have to work hard and make enough videos. Always keep the long term in mind -- because quantity counts. Eventually, adequate practice will lead to success.


If you enjoyed this article, please share the article with a friend ( or 2 ) :) Be sure to listen to my podcast and subscribe here to receive exclusive tips.

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