“I enjoy good company rather than the video!”
Bilibili is an interactive video sharing website themed around anime, manga and game based in China. Due to its exponential growth these years, Bilibili now offers not only animations but also videos about music, dancing, sciences, entertainment, movie, drama, fashion, and live broadcasting rooms where the host of the room and the viewers are able to interact with each on the specific topics. Unlike Youtube, all the user-submitted videos on Bilibili are hosted by third-party sources.
Homepage of Bilibili
Real-time overlaying comment system – Danmu
Bilibili features a real-time commentary subtitle system for interactive playback experience, which differentiates Bilibili from other video sharing platforms. The bulletin comment is called “danmu” in Chinese, meaning the bullet curtain. When you watch a video, the comments usually show on the screen, which looks like bullets flying through.
Danmu on a popular anime series, ONE PIECE
Users post danmu responding to what’s happening in the video, which are overlaid directly onto the video. Therefore, users can communication with other users at certain time of the video. Moreover, when other users watch this video and see the danmu, they are actually getting connected through these danmu. Furthermore, Danmu has more functions than before, which increase the benefits of viewers and thus increase amount of viewers. For instance, in science or history related videos, danmu can popularize scientific knowledge or provide background information; in a foreign language show, danmu can provide subtitles and even explanation information on culture differences.To sum up, danmu creates a sense of sharing watching experience and makes the video more interesting.
Danmu is not just a tool for bilibili users, but also a culture! Users who post their danmu would like to watch the video once again just to see other’s responses. Moreover, when users discover a show they love or hate, they would possibly watch them all over again on Bilibili in order to see if others have the same opinions. In such a way, Bilibili attain a high user retention rate.
Having enough video posts and comments every day is key to success for a video sharing website. Both uploader and viewer create value to Bilibili, so how to mutually stimulate them is key to value co-creation (H., Kannan, 2013). For viewers, they can easily explore new and popular videos, and have more fun compare to watching videos in a normal way. Also, social benefits increase due to interaction with others online. For uploader, they can gain reputation and become popular using word-of-mouth marketing via Bilibili.
Members with High Level of Community Commitment
Due to its ACG nature, only when users pass the ACG based test of Bilibili (60 out of 100 questions) can they become the members of Bilibili. Members can upload videos and better control danmu in color, style and movement. In such a way, members would believe that the social costs of leaving Bilibili is high, and thus have higher continuance community commitment and more likely to watch videos on Bilibili. Moreover, members have strong sense of attachment and belonging, and therefore they are more likely to post videos or/and danmu. All of these are in line with the theory of Bateman, Gray, and Bulter, 2011.
The stylized danmu
Form an audience may attract content providers, which is key to community growth (Butler 2001). The more viewers or comments there are, the more video the members upload, which results in a sustainable community. Bilibili serves as a good example so far.
Butler, B. S. (2001). Membership size, communication activity, and sustainability: A resource-based model of online social structures. Inform. Systems Res. 12(4) 346–362.
Patrick J. Bateman, Peter H. Gray, Brian S. Butler, (2011) Research Note—The Impact of Community Commitment on Participation in Online Communities. Information Systems Research 22(4):841-854.
Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P. K., & Kuusela, H, (2013). “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications.” European Business Review, 25(1), 6-19.