Chinese Video Creator Identities – a Cross-Platform Social Media Perspective

Ziying Meng & Bjørn Nansen
– University of Melbourne

Platform: Journal of Media and Communication

Volume 9.1, Visuality: Truth and Politics (2022): pp.24 – 42

Within a globalised digital environment characterised by increasingly diverse and dynamic social media platforms, video creators and their content production and circulation now typically operate across multiple social media platforms. Focusing on Chinese content creators and their cross-platform and cross-cultural social media practices, this paper draws on digital ethnographic research to analyse how user-generated content and creator identities are constructed across Chinese and Western social media services including YouTube, Bilibili, Douyin and RED. This article asks: how do Chinese content creators produce and circulate videos across multiple social media platforms and diverse cultures? How do these creators navigate platform architectures to present, manage and commercialise their identity given the cross-platform and transnational context? The findings suggest that Chinese creators’ cross-platform practices can be seen as a form of platform migration, in which they learn to move within and across platforms to ensure they create the optimal conditions for their content to spread and be viewed. These migratory platform practices are, however, constrained by audiences, algorithms, and advertiser expectations for creators to construct and maintain a single and consistent creator identity. These transnational creator identities include elements of both novelty and normativity in video content, such as niche or exotic performances, which serve up content for negotiating algorithmic visibility, or negotiating audiences for achieving a “cosmopolitan Chineseness”. As such, we can see that creator identities are both afforded and shaped through the globalised cultures, economies and politics of online video-sharing platforms.

Video-sharing platforms, social media, online identity, Chinese creators.

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