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  • Writer's pictureLiz Yin

Top 20 Chinese Live Streaming Apps & Platforms for Businesses

Due to the pandemic, live streaming has quickly became one of the most powerful and popular marketing tools in China. Not only does it have the potential to reach millions of viewers, but it is also a great tool for engaging with your customers and building relationships with them.


Data from iiMedia Research (2019) shows that the Chinese online live streaming population has already reached over 500 million in 2019, with an annual growth rate of 10.6%. During the pandemic, online live streaming has even became people’s go-to place for social, entertainment, and shopping.


Why Live Streaming Is Important for Your Brand in China?


With so many different Chinese live streaming apps & platforms available, businesses are now able to tap into this increasingly lucrative digital marketing opportunity and harness its immense potential to reach out to their target audience in unprecedented ways.


Live streaming provides a great opportunity for brands to extend their reach to more online audiences with almost unlimited capacity, and allow brand to engage their potential customers in a more humanized and interactive manner.


In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most popular mobile applications & online video platforms in China - from Douyin to WeChat - as well as offer you an insight into how you can best use each platform for your own campaigns!


3 Types of Live Streaming Platforms


There are 3 main types of live streaming platforms in China: social & entertainment, e-commerce and business streaming. Each type of live streaming differ from one other in terms of form, channels and engagement.


- Social & Entertainment: live streaming platforms that are built-in social media app, short video apps, and live event streaming apps such as live sports, concerts, gaming. They are most often used by the general public, KOLs (influencers), and celebrities.

- E-commerce: live streaming platforms that are built-in e-commerce apps such as Taobao and JD. Theses platforms usually used by brand owners and certified KOLs to promote and sell products.

- Business: business live streaming platforms are mostly used by comapnies or schools for both internal training and external brand promotions (i.e. live webinars).


Top 20 live stream platforms in China

20 Top Chinese Live Streaming Apps & Platforms for Businesses in 2023


1. Social & entertainment


This is probably the most common type of live streaming platform among all three categories. But there are only 2 of them you need to know-- Douyin and Kuaishou.

Douyin


As one of the earliest live-streaming platforms, Douyin is the most popular short video app in China with over 400 million DAU (daily active users) in 2019. In China, 80% of netizens have Douyin installed on their smartphone.

What makes Douyin an attractive platform for live streaming is its large traffic and the strong engagement between users and the KOL or celebrities. Fans interact with their idols by asking personal questions, sending “likes” and purchasing virtual gifts, such as “balloons” and “rocket”, which can be converted into “sound wave” and cashed out.


At the best times, top-level KOLs/celebrities can generate over 1 million RMB (140,000 USD) during one live streaming show (usually around 3-5 hrs) just by receiving gifts alone. Crazy right?



KOL live stream

So how could brands leverage douyin live streaming?

Brands can promote their brands and sell products by partnering with selected KOLs.

During the important sales events such as new product launch, online shopping festivals, or seasonal sales, a lot of marketers will promote their products and sell them through KOLs live streaming on douyin.


As return, KOLs gets commission+ partnership fee, the commission-driven model also gives KOL motivation to sell hard for you.

One recent successful douyin live streaming case is a Xiaomi x Yonghao Luo, who is a knowledge-sharing KOL and an entrepreneur. During Yonghao's first live streaming show on douyin, he attracted more than 48 million users and generated 170 million RMB revenue for brands.


Xiaomi x Yonghao Luo stream

So, what does it mean for you as marketers?

If you pick the right KOLs that can generate much higher ROIs and increased brand awareness, you might achieve the sales goal for the whole year in just 1 live stream show.

Another advantage of Douyin live streaming is that the product link can be directly linked to the live streaming so the audience can just click and buy without switching to other e-commerce platforms.


However, the platform has become very competitive with more celebrities joined live streaming to compete for traffic, unless you partner with the top-level KOLs or celebrities, the traffic is hard to guarantee.


Kuaishou


Besides Douyin, there is another live-streaming platform called Kuaishou, which is quite similar to douyin despite that it is targeting at users in lower-tier cities. Kaichou rose to fame thanks to the growing digitalization among the suburban and village population.


Kuaishou’s advantage as a marketing tool comes in its strong community affinity. Live streaming KOLs and their fans call each other “Laotie”, which means buddy.


If you have a product that’s targeting at lower-tier city consumers in China, you might consider Kuaishou.


2. E-commerce


Taobao


As the largest E-commerce platform in China, Taobao also has the most live streaming users among all other live streaming platforms. In 2020, Taobao has over 800 million users, which is over HALF of the Chinese population. Because of its large user base, Taobao naturally became the biggest and most popular live streaming platform for e-commerce consumers and brands.

Different from other social live streaming platforms where everyone can start live streaming, Taobao only allows the certified KOLs and Taobao shop owners who met certain requirements to sell through live streaming.

But there are other ways you can do it without having a Taobao or T-mall shop.

Generally, there are 3 ways you can sell through live streaming on Taobao:

Live streaming through your own Taobao or T-mall shop – This is the most common and cost-effective way to live streaming on Taobao because you don’t need to pay for anyone to sell for you. Of course, you need to have your own verified Taobao shop or T-mall store to be able to use this function.


Sell through KOLs—If you don’t have any existing followers you can sell to or want some extra traffic boost before important online sales event, consider collaborating with Taobao KOLs, they will help bringing considerable traffic to your store. To make KOL collaboration easier for T-mall brand owners, Taobao even has its own KOL management platform called “Ali V-task”, which allows brand to select KOLs based on their audience demographics, past sales data and price.


Affiliate shops“What if I don’t even have a shop on Taobao, how can I leverage Taobao live streaming?” you ask. The answer is—through affiliate shops. There are many Taobao shop owners sell products they brought from oversea and resell them on Taobao, we call them “daigou“. Brand can partner with these shop owners and sell through their Taobao shop. This approach is best for small business owners who want to test the market before opening their own e-commerce shop in China. But be aware of shop credit score, you want to partner with those who only sell the authentic products or you will put your brand image in jeopardy.


What makes Taobao a good live streaming platform?


Taobao is a sole e-commerce platform, people who come to Taobao are ready to shop, which makes the conversion rate higher and more stable than other types of platforms. According to Alibaba’s annual report, the average conversion rate of Taobao live streaming is 65% in 2019.

Besides, Taobao’s big data and complete in-app ecosystem made it easy for marketers to do targeted promotion by showing their products and live streaming to only those who recently visited your shop or browsed similar products.

One successful KOL live streaming campaign on Taobao is Loreal’s collaboration with the NO.1 KOL on Taobao—Jiaqi Li. During the first 5 minutes of the show, he already sold 15,000 lipsticks. This record-breaking live streaming show also made him the Guinness record keeper for wearing the most lipsticks in 5 minutes.

Jiaqi Li's stream for Loreal

The success of Taobao live streaming also attracted many international brands to try out the new format, including Kim Kardashian who promoted her perfume line through partnering with KOL during the double 11 online festival last year.


The show was hosted by Viya, another top-level Taobao KOL who has 17.5 million subscribers on her channel.


The result? 6,000 bottles of perfume sold during the first 30 seconds of the show.

Just recently, Viya also unprecedentedly sold rocket launch services for 400 million RMB.


Viya streaming campaign

So, be creative and think out of the box, who knows what you can sell and how much you can achieve through Taobao live streaming?


Red


Besides Taobao, another e-commerce platform— “Xiaohongshu” is also a popular platform for live streaming. Red is a community-based cross-border e-commerce platform for women’s beauty and fashion.

The platform has over 300 million users, 85% of them are female with majority live in tier-1 cities or abroad. These women have strong purchasing power and enjoy shopping for oversea products.

Because of the unique user base, Red attracted a lot of cross-border and luxury brands to join its platform.

One recent successful Red live streaming campaign is Givenchy’s collaboration with several fashion KOLs to introduce its new clothing line. During the live streaming show, Givenchy attracted 5 times more users to follow its Red e-commerce shop. Besides Givenchy, other luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany all got their foot in Red and promoted their products through KOL live streaming.


Multiple KOL promoting brands in their live streams

Comparing to Taobao, Red has a more niched user base and a lower entry barrier for foreign brands to open a store. Well, at least for now.


3. Business


Although live streaming is more prominent in the e-commerce and entertainment field, more and more business organizations have adopted live streaming to further their audience reach.


In this part, we'll focus on the most popular business streaming platform——WeChat.


What makes WeChat a great tool for marketing is its “all-in-one” functionality that integrates instant messaging, social, entertainment, and live streaming features.

Businesses can leverage WeChat live streaming in two major ways——broadcasting a live webinar or expanding the reach of an offline event.


Businesses can reach targeted audiences by tapping into their existing sales network leveraging the platform's powerful relationship-based algorithm.


A business live streaming requires some planning ahead in order to fully capitalize the session. A typical business live streaming starts with a warm-up poster to attract the WeChat users join a dedicated group chat.


After the end of live streaming, businesses can use the group chat to follow up with interested participants and nurture potential leads.


Conclusion


There are plenty of live-streaming platforms in China. However, most businesses only focus on 1 or 2 as their main channels for audience engagement.


As live streaming become more popular in China, many new emerging social and news media platforms also added the live streaming feature to their apps, allowing brands to further expand their audience reach beyond the channels covered above.


Choosing the right channel is only the first step, successful live streaming also requires strategic planning including influence/KOL collaboration, live streaming promotion, and post-live streaming follow-up.

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