10 Tips to Creating Viral Videos on Top China Video Site Youku

Youku Tudou, or Youku in short, the best loved China video site, has seen very strong growth in the country, with almost a 20-fold increase in its daily video views and daily unique visitors since its official launch in December 2006. As of March 2018, according to DMR Stats, it has more than 580 million users, 1.18 billion video views, about 150 million daily active users and more than 4,000 videos uploaded. It is estimated to occupy about 60 – 70% of the total online video market in China.

Besides deals with Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox and other huge Hollywood companies, Youku’s main drivers for growth online are its ability to find and generate timely events coverage as well as facilitating the sharing of user-generated content.

Youku – the Best China Video Site for Your Brand

In China, because users have no access to YouTube, brands have taken to using Youku to engage with their audience – this online platform allows their users to search, view and share video content through various devices. Brands such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Cartier all have official Youku channels to share promotional videos of their new collections.

Youku is perfect for magnifying your brand in the eyes of the Chinese audience because the China video site also has an online viewing analytics tool, which enables you to identify your audience by providing users’ information like demographics, browser usage, language and location. This enables brands to show targeted advertisements or other location-related content. And in case you have a good budget, you can also run ads such as static and animated banner ads, text link ads, instream advertisements, branded viral videos and so on.

China video site

You have probably seen and viewed lots of viral videos online, most probably on YouTube. How do we actually define ‘viral videos’? For us, it’s any videos that have spread across the world, hitting every country with almost everyone knowing about it and sharing it across multiple social media sites such as Facebook, Google, Weibo, WeChat, Youku, YouTube, as well as video platforms popular in individual countries. With these videos in mind, you might be asking yourself, ”Is there a magic formula that I can use to make my videos go viral too?” Well, we won’t exactly guarantee it, but after investigating up to a hundred viral videos online as well as talking to some video celebrities and influencers, we have put together something powerful for you, specifically with regard to Youku, China’s most popular video site. I won’t touch on software that have been specially created to help your Youku videos go viral because some of them might just get you banned on the site.

Chinese Language or Chinese Subtitles

Of course, Youku is meant for the Chinese audience, and if you produced some videos without using Chinese dubbing, or Chinese subtitles, chances are, your videos are not going to get much traction. Unless your videos are something that can be understood without the need for textual or verbal explanations, it is imperative that you dub or insert subtitles for your videos that are originally created in another language.

Babies, Cute Animals and Women

We hope this won’t set off another long debate series but it has been proven that some topics or subjects get more video views on Youku than any others, and among the top three subjects are babies, cute animals and women, not in any particular order.

Inject some of those into your videos on the China video site, add on your own twist and you could very well have a winning video on your hand.

Don’t Make It Longer than 1 Minute

In general, don’t make your video into more than 1 minute. The best length is about 15 to 40 seconds for Youku. If you have a longer story to tell, break it down into mini story series or bite-sized snippets for your audience on the China video site.

The Remix Strategy

According to Jesse of Jumpcut, he implemented a strategy he called ‘The Remix Strategy’ on his YouTube channels. Of course, this technique can also be applied to Youku. This strategy is said to have been applied almost everywhere, even by Hollywood. So what exactly is this ‘Remix Strategy’? Simple, it’s just taking an already proven concept on Youku and then adding your own unique twist to it. Instead of creating everything on your own, build on something that has already gone viral on the China video site, and add your own useful content into it. Here is the formula:

[Proven Concept + Add Your Own Twist = The Remix Strategy]

Creating Parody-Worthy Video Content

Another strategy is to create a video that is so simple and funny that it gets to be remixed over and over again by others, much like how a funny meme goes viral. For instance, a voice actor Ge Ping on Youku has been getting his videos open to multiple parodies due to his exaggerated intonations and facial expressions. His “Blue Cat” videos have become recurring jokes within the Youku video community and had helped pushed the branding for the cartoon series “Blue Cat”, with whom he was the voice actor, to greater heights.

Evoke Emotions In Your Videos

If you have to do a video ad, try not to make it too “ad-like” and rather, you can craft it like a story that will evoke certain emotions in your audience. Like this Sony Bravia ad, it adds a touch of fun and whimsicality to it, and make people feel like sharing, or this Thai commercial which tells an emotional story about a mother, a daughter and a pineapple.

Getting Other Youku Owners to Help You

You can also tap into other Youku owners’ channels to help you. Much like how YouTube works, Youku also has some sections such as ‘Trending Now’ and other sections that is dependent on viewer traffic. The more views your video get, the more likely it will get onto that list. What you can do is to reach out (with maybe a little bit of cash outlay) to Youku owners who run relevant channels on Youku or even on other Chinese social media such as WeChat or Weibo, and ask them to help you embed the video on their platform or share it with their audience. The more traffic and views your video gets, the higher the chance that it will be featured prominently.

Share It on Other Social Media Channels

Truth be told, with so many videos being uploaded daily, no one is going to find your video or view it on Youku if you do nothing to promote it. So you need to leverage all the other social media tools that you are using, such as WeChat, Weibo, Dianping or even social media that are or might be banned in China, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Other channels such as Chinese forums, or even English forums are helpful. You can start a variety of threads and embed your videos, but do remember to reply to your fans and maintain a relationship online. If you have an email list, also remember to broadcast it to your audience in this way.

If you could also offer a gift or bonus to your audience for sharing your video, do so! Every share is precious, and who knows, an influencer might just pick it up and share it too.

Optimizing Your Youku Video Title and Thumbnail

Similar to YouTube, you also need to optimize the titles of your videos on Youku. As much as possible, try to include words in the title that you think your audience are likely to search for, plus a catchy word or two that will let users on Youku click on it more than the other videos.

It is also important for you to place an image thumbnail that is more prominent in order to attract users to click on it. A compelling video thumbnail can help you maximise the number of clicks that it gets, so do not neglect this strategy. You can also change thumbnails and test which one works best for you. Browse through Youku’s most popular videos and see how their titles have been phrased, or what kinds of thumbnail images they use and strategise accordingly.

Comments and Conversations

Create another account on Youku to post comments in your own channel on the China video site, as advised by some Chinese video influencers. The secret to every influencer on Youku is to have more than one account each, so that you can create some controversy comments below so that more users will drop in to add to the comments and create some noise. If you have a team of marketers, have each of them create 2 – 3 accounts to log in every day with comments to stir up the community, and it will likely drive traffic back to your site. Do it sporadically and don’t spam the site.

Nowadays, you can’t expect to just upload your videos on Youku or for that matter, any other video platforms and expect to get views or have it go viral without any hard work. Even with videos that have all the components of going viral, you still need to ensure that you first get it out to your audience.

Are you confused over the different kinds of marketing channels available to reach Chinese customers? Fret not, because with a team of Chinese professional marketers, the right resources and many years of experience in marketing to a Chinese audience, we can help! Just fill in the enquiry form below and we will give you a call back.

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Chung Chien

Chung Chien

Chung Chien is a content marketing professional with a tech startup. Previously, she worked as a content creator for many tech software and startups in the US and Taiwan. She graduated with honours from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing. She loves cycling and dogs, in that order. Connect with her at hello@magichoth.com.