Grandpa Amu and Lin Guoer went out of the circle and went to sea. How did Chinese traditional culture become popular on overseas platforms?

Luban stools, wooden arch bridges, wooden fire trucks… Grandpa Amu, who has been a carpenter for more than 50 years, can make many interesting and delicate objects without using nails and glue, and only relying on the ancient mortise and tenon technique.

Diesel engines, generators, mixers… Lin Guoer, who graduated from water conservancy and hydropower engineering, returned to his hometown to "turn waste into treasure" of pieces of dilapidated electromechanical equipment, known as "Li Ziqi of heavy industry".

After Li Ziqi, Chinese bloggers like Grandpa Amu and Lin Guoer also became popular overseas, with hundreds of thousands or even millions of fans on YouTube, spreading traditional Chinese culture and skills around the world.

Because of the differences in the population base at home and abroad, for Chinese creators who do traditional culture overseas, YouTube’s hundreds of thousands of fans can already be regarded as top bloggers.

Going to sea is not an easy task. The most difficult part is that creators often do not understand overseas platforms. At the same time, content creators such as Lin Guoer and Grandpa Amu were all personal bloggers in the early days, with very limited energy.

What are the opportunities and challenges for Chinese creators going overseas? What is the difference between domestic and overseas audience preferences? Ai Faner talked to two creators and an MCN company focusing on YouTube, and found out from their stories.

More immersive videos are more popular with overseas audiences

Lin Guoer, who graduated with a major in water conservancy and hydropower engineering, has developed a long-term interest in machinery since childhood. In 2018, he returned to his hometown to repair various diesel engines and posted videos on the Internet. His hard-core craftsmanship has attracted widespread attention.

On July 4, 2021, Lin Guoer posted her first video on her Chinese YouTube channel, and has accumulated nearly 160,000 fans, nearly 50% of whom are overseas Chinese.

▲ Picture from: Ziniu News

So before going overseas, Lin Guoer has already made some progress in the domestic market, but her main focus is on vertical screens, and she is active in Toutiao, Xigua Video and Douyin.

When I first set foot in short video creation, the shooting process was inevitably rough. Lin Guoer didn’t pay much attention to camera switching, and occasionally shot close-ups or close-up details. The videos cut out with mobile phones were often not smooth enough, and sometimes the screen would freeze.

After deciding to go to YouTube overseas, Lin Guoer added a device based on the original vertical screen content to make the video a horizontal screen, making the introduction and details more detailed.

This is also related to YouTube's own tonality. The video length recommended by the platform is generally more than 10 minutes long, which is not as fragmented as vertical screen short videos, which means that continuing the previous creative mode is not feasible.

▲ Animation made from: [email protected]林果儿

So far, Lin Guoer has basically completed machine repairs and filming and editing alone, maintaining a frequency of once a week.

Although the shooting technology has gradually improved, there are still challenges for Lin Guoer when going to sea. On the one hand, it is language, and on the other hand, it is the way of operation.

Fortunately, these problems can be handed over to the professional MCN company in the technical industry. Lin Guoer only needs to provide the material video, and MCN is responsible for language packaging, editing and processing, video release, follow-up operations, etc. Lin Guoer will receive relevant data feedback every week, and there will be regular online communication meetings every month to discuss how to adjust the next video.

According to feedback from overseas fans, Lin Guoer found that for machine repair content, overseas audiences prefer the creator's immersive production process. The proportion of language is small, the size of the machine is larger, the technical content is higher, and the video production is more elaborate, and it is easier to be popular.

What impresses Lin Guoer is that some of her overseas fans are technicians themselves. They don’t just regard her videos as entertainment, but concentrate on watching them. and loopholes".

▲ Animation made from: [email protected]林果儿

Therefore, after going to sea, Lin Guoer will pay more attention to shooting, and can't directly omit a few maintenance steps, otherwise the cut video will have a lack of logic or even feel empty. She has also watched some foreign bloggers' mechanical renovation videos, which are more detailed, immersive and slower than what she is currently doing.

At present, some achievements have been made in going overseas, and transformation is an issue that Lin Guoer is considering.

In Lin Guoer's videos, folks and fans from all over the world often send her machines and ask her to help with repairs. Maybe there will be a time when the machine is almost repaired. Before that day comes, Lin Guoer hopes to slowly transition and transform, and try to invest in a wider range of hand-made.

In fact, apart from mechanical maintenance, Lin Guoer has also made tire tables and chairs and steel rocking chairs, built bamboo houses and dog kennels, and her skills span carpentry, bricklayers, and plumbers. It also seems to be a natural thing.

In the short video industry, it is important to start early

Grandpa Amu’s real name is Wang Dewen. He is an old carpenter who likes to study tenon and tenon structures. He has been in this industry for more than 50 years. Most of the videos on the YouTube channel are handmade exquisite wooden furniture or toys. software", praised by netizens as "contemporary Luban" and "with a CAD system in mind".

▲ Picture from: iresearch

Similar to his father learning carpentry since he was a child, Grandpa Amu’s son Wang Baocheng was also exposed to the short video industry very early.

In 2013, Kuaishou, which started as a GIF animation, just transformed into a short video social platform. Short videos are still in their infancy. Wang Baocheng is already carrying funny videos and producing original animations. In the second half of 2017, Wang Baocheng began to shoot short videos, not only for carpentry, but also for gourmet content, all with his father as the protagonist.

This is the beginning of an "early bird gets the worm" kind of story.

But after he had the intention to go overseas and contacted MCN, Wang Baocheng really knew that in the woodworking industry, they were "the first to eat crabs". There are not many bloggers who specialize in woodworking at home and abroad.

At the end of 2018, Wang Baocheng decided to focus on carpentry content, exporting traditional carpentry images based on personal IP, "that is, to log in first."

▲ Picture from: [email protected]阿木夏Grandpa Amu

Previously, Wang Baocheng was not too rigid about the production process. After all, his father had been doing carpentry for many years, and he had also been fascinated by it for many years. He preferred to see the finished product as soon as possible.

Realizing that he is the first batch of short video creators in the woodworking industry, and referring to the suggestions of MCN, Wang Baocheng decided to lengthen the length of the video to show the entire production process of tenon and tenon crafts, showing every step of sawing, chiseling, grinding, drilling, etc. detail. The original three-to-five-minute video was adjusted to 8 minutes or even more than 10 minutes.

After going overseas, Wang Baocheng will still control the content production itself, and MCN will provide assistance in content distribution, audience feedback and other operational aspects, as well as platform rules such as music copyright.

At present, Grandpa Amu’s account has entered 20 platforms including Douyin, Kuaishou, Bilibili, Xiaohongshu, and Video Account in China, and YouTube and Facebook in foreign countries.

The update frequency of Grandpa Amu's account is controlled at least once a week. The length of video production can be as fast as one day, as slow as seven days or even a month, and it varies according to different woodworking works. The wooden fire truck some time ago was the most difficult and work-intensive work so far, and it took Grandpa Amu more than three months.

▲ Animation made from: [email protected]阿木夏Grandpa Amu

Different platforms have different audiences and tonality. For example, judging from the composition of YouTube fans, the proportion is average all over the world, with slightly more in Europe and the United States. Wang Baocheng often makes videos with the most demanding version, and then continuously condenses or simplifies.

Every time a video is shot, there will be three or four kinds of materials such as silent, sound, horizontal screen, vertical screen, etc. Wang Baocheng then judges which platform is suitable for which format based on his own and MCN’s operating experience from the duration and audience habits.

As a rule of thumb, YouTube is better for long videos in landscape. In Wang Baocheng's view, this is the result of cultural differences:

Overseas audiences are very interested in the Chinese mortise and tenon structure, and they prefer to watch the production process. We continue to lengthen and refine every detail, and it seems that we can do it ourselves after watching it. But for domestic audiences, they may often see certain details in their daily life, so we don’t need too much time and energy to understand them, and we will condense or delete them.

▲ Animation made from: [email protected]阿木夏Grandpa Amu

For example, there are all kinds of drilling equipment in foreign countries, but Grandpa Amu’s manual drilling without electricity makes overseas audiences feel unfamiliar, and thus arouses interest. There will be more close-ups during the shooting. Referring to this logic, YouTube videos involve several shots, and one shot in China may be enough.

Domestic traditional culture is suitable for going out

Founded in 2017, Xiaowu Technology is an MCN company deeply involved in YouTube, dedicated to helping Chinese content creators go overseas.

MCN, the full name of Multi-Channel Network, is an intermediary between content producers and video platforms, helping creators solve the problems of promotion and realization, and then share with creators in a certain proportion.

According to Zhu Danjun, CEO of Xiaowu Technology, traditional culture is suitable for going out. Under this premise, Xiaowu Technology will further sort out and think about the content that overseas audiences are more likely to understand or be interested in.

▲ Synchronized multilingual subtitles.

"Handmade, pastoral culture, martial arts, gourmet food, etc. are all available, but there are differences in the length of the video and the viewing habits of audiences in different countries. This requires specific operating strategies. The operating strategies for various types of overseas bloggers are different. Yes. If you ask what can be done, it can be done.”

Most of the time, when it comes to going to sea, MCN is the one that takes the initiative. In order to find suitable overseas creators, Xiaowu Technology will search for and invite them on various domestic medium and long video or short video platforms.

So what kind of creator is more suitable to go to sea? The standard of Xiaowu Technology is: look at the data.

Among them, the data of YouTube videos or channels of the same category is a very important reference, and then Xiaowu Technology will judge the differentiation of domestic and foreign platforms and the future potential of creators.

Generally speaking, for the categories they are optimistic about, Xiaowu Technology will recruit more creators, and different creators of the same category also have different cooperation models. In addition, the stability of content updates and the willingness of content creators to go overseas are also criteria for measurement.

After the cooperation intention is reached, the cooperation between MCN and creators in going overseas is not a process from 0 to 1.

▲ Some services of Xiaowu Technology.

Content creators like Lin Guoer and Grandpa Amu often already have content and an audience base in the domestic market. Xiaowu Technology does more with operations-related matters, and judges whether domestic content is suitable for overseas. According to data changes, it provides creators with better operating strategies and helps creators make adjustments in terms of content, video rhythm, post-production packaging, etc.

However, it is not for Li Ziqi, Lin Guoer, and Grandpa Amu for creators to go overseas and let traditional culture go out, but to form an ecology of their own.

▲ Picture from: Xinhua Net

According to the observation of Xiaowu Technology, starting from 2020, most of the content of the YouTube Chinese market comes from mainland China. Whether it is the number of fans of mainland creators and the proportion of top channels, or the quantity and quality of content of mainland creators, there has been a significant increase.

This is mainly because the domestic short video ecosystem was good enough at that time, and there were more content creators, so a considerable part of the content could also overflow overseas.

Domestic UGC content began to flourish around 2017 and 2018. After three or four years, it may be around 2020. The Chinese content of the entire YouTube ecosystem not only has a place in mainland China, it surpasses overseas and Hong Kong and Macau. creators in Taiwan.

▲ Picture from: iresearch

In the future, what kind of situation will creators face when they go overseas?

Zhu Danjun, CEO of Xiaowu Technology, believes that creators who entered the game early like Grandpa Amu in the past few years will of course have an advantage, because the platform lacks such content. But when the content of the platform is gradually enriched, the new tipping point that can impress the audience, the time period for change will become shorter and shorter.

On the one hand, audiences have higher and higher requirements for content quality, and new sub-categories are constantly emerging; on the other hand, there will be more personal creations in cooperation with MCN, and creators need to invest more resources to make content more stably .

After that, Xiaowu Technology will do more operations on the short video platform Shorts launched by YouTube in July 2021, including directly cooperating with the creators of Douyin and Kuaishou.

The whole world is becoming TikTok. In order to meet the audience's viewing habits, vertical short videos are the general trend. Of course, what is more practical is that because of the low threshold, the content creator base of ultra-short videos is much larger than that of medium-length videos, which means that MCN services will also have more and more customers.

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