Under the dome, a 103-minute documentary released last weekend by the former CCTV journalist Chai Jing, went viral and became a national storm, reaching 200 million viewers in just a few day. The documentary discussed in depth the current state of air pollution in China and the underlying problems that need to be tackled. Chai first released this documentary on her Weibo account @ChaijingSaw (@柴静看见) and was reposted tens of thousands of times. The documentary was jointly released on partnering platforms @Youku (@优酷) and @People (@人民网), where the video amassed a huge amount of followers, some of which are very influential in their own social circle. In a short period of time, Under the Dome was featured in Weibo’s hot topic section thanks to tens of thousands of reposts and comments. It was played at least 120 million times in less than one day, 80 million on Tencent Video and 40 million on Youku. The day after it was released, even offline media wanted to catch on to this trend and Chai Jing’s name was on the front page of all the newspapers.
In terms of social media strategy and creating a viral campaign, it’s clear to say that Chai Jing achieved huge success. It contains all the elements of a viral topic that I can think of, passion, sympathy, danger, conspiracy, controversy, and concern. Of course there are people questioning Chai’s motives because of the blunt manipulation of the media, but one cannot deny that this is a clever move. The release date of the video was timed only a few days before the CPPCC, an annual political event that was being heavily covered by the media. Unfortunately, the last few days, “Chai Jing” and the “Dome” have been among Weibo and Wechat’s most censored terms. The authority ordered all the major media outlets to stop discussing this topic and remove all articles about the documentary. We do not know the exact reason why the Chinese government had a change of heart and decided to ban all discussion of this documentary, nevertheless the campaign did achieve what it set out to do, arousing public awareness, introducing debate and highlighting problems…(I think we have a reason to have banned it now). It is clear to see that the Chinese government doesn’t want anything to overshadow it’s key events, and important point to keep in mind when trying to create a viral campaign. Weiyi Huang