Douban Time: A New Approach to Paid Content

Douban, launched in 2005, is a Chinese culture online community that focuses on film, books and music recommendations and commenting. It is also a social network that integrates friends, groups and collections. Gathering hundreds of millions of users, Douban has built a strong user base for its knowledge-paying product; Douban Time.

The network for entertainment-related content

At the end of February 2017, Beidao, a well-known modern Chinese poet, registered on Douban. He posted his first status on March 6th, announcing the launch of his poem classes on Douban. The post received over 1,000 reposts and likes within one day.


Beidao’s joining the platform was associated with the announcement of Douban’s new product launch: Douban Time (豆瓣时间) – a paid platform for outstanding content sharing.

Douban invited experts and KOLs from various sectors to contribute customized educational content.

Interested users pay for access to the content.

2  3

↑ In-site banner ads on Douban promoting the first offerings from Douban Time

The first set is entitled “Wake Up in Poems”. Beidao and 16 other poets and scholars will read and explain 51 excellent Chinese and foreign modern poems in audio format. It costs 128 RMB for 102 classes and can be paid via WeChat Pay or Alipay.


Douban is not the first social media platform trying a paid content model.

Fenda (a paid audio Q&A App), Zhihu Live (an instant Q&A product launched by intelligence sharing platform Zhihu) and WeChat Reading have led the boom in the paid content field since 2016, and encouraged more exploration in this new business model.

But Douban Time is still slightly different from the pioneers. It’s not just a platform presenting content from others but more like a “producer” or “co-producer” playing a key role in the entire production process.


↑ The Douban team is also involved in copywriting, video production and other promotional activities.

The differences with the other social networks

In contrast to other social media platforms in China, content is Douban’s key feature and focal point. Progressing from a platform for movies, books and music reviews, to an online community well known for its interest-based networking and its quality user generated content, Douban has a unique advantage in terms of content production and consumption.

So it can use its database to explore possibilities in regard to business models. For users, it’s also a great chance to access high quality, tailor-made content while saving time.

For brands, it’s easy to see potential and commercial value in the paid content industry. Brands related to culture, art, lifestyle, food and design can use this model as a new distribution or marketing channel.

By cooperating with platforms like Douban Time and industry KOLs, sharing expertise and insights can strengthen the connection with target audiences and build a stronger brand identity.

What do you think of the paid content model? Are you interested in learning more features and marketing options of Douban? Please leave a comment below.

To get deeper insights into Chinese social media marketing and utilizing it to serve your business, join ChoZan, a training and resources platform for Chinese social media marketers.

Please follow our official WeChat account to get more updates about the latest news, feature updates and case studies.

Wechat Chozan

Share this article on your favourite social media

Rate this post