Diaspora micro-influencers and COVID-19 communication on social media: The case of Chinese-speaking YouTube vloggers

Leticia Tian Zhang , Sumin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diaspora vloggers – migrants who produce video blogs in the language of their home countries for a transnational diaspora community – have been a largely overlooked group in the studies of social media. This paper focuses on the unique role of Chinese diaspora vloggers during an unprecedented global event—the COVID-19 pandemic. Using manual keyword search (e.g., zhaijia riji, faguo yiqing) and chance sampling (i.e. following platform recommendation), we collected 26 videos (07:44:30) from six Chinese YouTube micro-influencers (1–100k followers) located in Germany, the US, Australia, France, Italy, and Korea. Drawing on theories of narrative and stance-taking, we analyzed how these diaspora vloggers relate their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results show that vloggers display both universal (e.g., fears) and culturally specific (e.g., mask-wearing) feelings, and invite their viewers to co-construe the emotional experience (e.g., the pronoun ni and address term dajia). Moreover, through different ways of “being Chinese”, vloggers orient their discourse to a unique audience—transnational Chinese-speaking diaspora. Our findings point to the emergence of a new form of migrant identity in the age of social media and highlight the importance of understanding such identities in delivering public health information in global emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553–563
JournalMultilingua - Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication
Issue number5
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2020


  • Chinese diaspora
  • migrant identities
  • narrative analysis
  • YouTube vloggers
  • social media discourse
  • COVID-19


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