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The “YouTube Effect” of WeChat & Sina Weibo

Stories of YouTube stars turning into successful entrepreneurs have become manifold. With the so-called ‘Youtube Effect’, anyone can become an online fashion influencer or money maker from behind their computer. Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Sina Weibo have their own Youtube Effect.

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Stories of YouTube stars turning into successful entrepreneurs have become manifold. With the so-called ‘Youtube Effect’, anyone can become an online fashion influencer or money maker from behind their computer. Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Sina Weibo have their own Youtube Effect.

Since launching in 2005, YouTube has provided society with a new way to consume, create, share and, most importantly, make money. When purely focusing on the platform’s advertising and marketing aspects, YouTube has enabled small businesses to reach millions of viewers, something that could previously only be achieved by big corporate names with equally big budgets.

The ability to upload one’s own videos showing off anything from beauty tutorials to guitar tickling has translated into liquid assets (a.k.a. ad fees) for a lucky few – thanks to those brands drawing in that one YouTuber to promote their product.

Other platform users have taken it one successful step further by landing lucrative deals, gaining fame and fortune (think Justin Bieber) or scoring the chance to create their own merchandising or fashion lines.

From ad fees to reader’s rewards

Vietnamese-American Michelle Phan became a poster girl of YouTube (8,4 million subscribers) when she got to set up a personal cosmetics brand just by diligently uploading make-up tutorials onto the video platform. Now, with all that being very fine and dandy, how do WeChat (also known as Weixin) and Sina Weibo fit into this mold?

“Luxury brands such as Chanel and Prada are turning to online celebrities for targeted marketing. When releasing products, these companies often invite online celebrities to advertise the products on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter,” AsiaOne on March 17 reports: “In China, there are 688 million Internet users so the knack of influencing even some of them could make one a ‘Key Opinion Leader’.”

China’s celebrities boast huge online flocks on leading social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat. They have follower numbers the average Western celeb could only rival in their wildest dreams.

These numbers can become real-life red bills by several means, from the traditional luxury brand ad fee to one of the more noticeable ones being a tip and virtual gift system. “When an online celebrity publishes a fashion-themed article on WeChat, China’s most popular instant messaging tool, readers can reward the author with tips ranging from 1 yuan (S$0.20) to 256 yuan by using its digital payment tool,” AsiaOne continues.

The Sina Weibo Effect

Between WeChat and Weibo, the latter especially attracts China’s young people; nearly 70 percent of its users are below the age of 30.

China’s Post-90s generation is one popular clientele demographic, with brands from all over the world trying to tap into it. Even Vogue China magazine has offered up a small WeChat preview to its new Vogue Me publication aimed at the Post-90s fashionista. Nevertheless, Weibo still excels in the P.R. stakes compared to WeChat. Its impact has been described as follows:

“If you have over 1,000 followers, you are a billboard; if this exceeds 10,000, you are like a magazine. If there are 100,000 people following you, you are a metropolis newspaper. With 1,000,000 followers, you’re basically a TV-channel.” Sounds like music to any brand’s ears – even if it is Justin Bieber singing.

Many a foreign brand today remains eager to further extend its reach across mainland China. Weibo, WeChat, as well as online streaming services such as Youku, have become indispensable components of their core strategies. Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry or Diane von Fuerstenberg (the brand, not the lady) have all managed to capitalize on their social media tactics in the Middle Kingdom. So has Durex, which is in fact one of the top foreign brands on Weibo currently, with 1,130,305 followers as of 2014.

Just think about it: What IT-girl, singer or actress wouldn’t want a brand new Diane wrap-dress or Burberry bag in her closet? One click to upload a pic can generate 100,000 hits and a boost in daily income. To tip it all off, they will have acquired a befitting must-have. It is, indeed, the YouTube effect. What’s on Weibo? Cold hard cash.

– By Elsbeth van Paridon


Featured image: Youtube image of Cyberstar Michelle Phan.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Elsbeth van Paridon is a sinologist and fashion writer. Since 2010, she has been living in Beijing, where she has become an expert on all the ins and outs of the world of China fashion. She has her own blog on China fashion: Chasing the Fashion Dragon.

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China Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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China and Covid19

Happiest Lockdown in China: Guests Undergo Mandatory Quarantine at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

“I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too!” The Shanghai Disney hotel apparently is the happiest place to get locked in.

Manya Koetse

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While many cities across China are experiencing new (partial) lockdowns and millions of people are confined to their homes, there was also a group of people that had to undergo mandatory quarantine at a very special place: the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

On September 7, social media posts started surfacing online from people who said they were required to quarantine while they were at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel. Disneyland reportedly had received a notification from the local health authorities that a visitor who previously stayed at the Disneyland hotel was found to be a close contact of a newly confirmed Covid case.

In line with the Center for Disease Control requirements, Disney created a ‘closed loop system’ by locking in all hotel residents and staff members and doing daily Covid tests. While the Disneyland theme park was open as usual, the hotel became a temporary isolation site where people’s health would be monitored for the next few days while all staff members would also be screened.

During their mandatory quarantine, guests stayed at the hotel for free and did not need to pay for their rooms. Room prices at the Shanghai Disneyland hotel start at around 3000 yuan/night ($433).

Some guests shared photos of their Disneyland quarantine stay on social media, showing how Disney staff provided them with free breakfast, lunch, a surprise afternoon tea, delicious dinner, fun snacks, and Disney toys and stickers.

On the Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) app, one Shanghai Disney visitor (nickname @恶霸小提莫) wrote: “We have three meals a day, there is both Chinese and Western-style breakfast, we also get afternoon tea and desserts, they have shrimp, beef, scallops, drinks, French macarons, yogurt, ice cream, and much more. We watched so many Disney movies for free. We are given so many little gifts, they brought us gifts twice today as they also brought us toy figures at night. We watch the fireworks from our windows every night at 8.30 pm. Although we weren’t allowed to go out, we really had a pleasant stay.”

Another Disney guest named Zoea (Xiaohongshu ID: yiya0313) also shared many photos of the mandatory quarantine and wrote: “When the staff knocked on the door to tell me they were bringing dinner, I even wondered how it was possible that they brought food again. Afternoon tea during quarantine, can you believe it? And fruit before dinner? And midnight snacks brought to us after dinner? And it was so nice to watch all the Disney movies on tv. Disney really is the most magical place.”

“I’m just so happy,” another locked-in Disney guest posted on social media, sharing pictures of Mickey Mouse cakes.

Other guests also posted about their experiences on social media. “They probably feared we would get bored so they brought us glue, stickers, and painting brushes, the kids loved it and so did we!”

Reading about the happy quarantine at Disney, many Weibo users responded that they envied the guests, writing: “I wish I could be quarantined at Disney too.”

“I need to find a way to get in, too,” others wrote.

Earlier this year, one Chinese woman shared her story of being quarantined inside a hotpot restaurant for three days. Although many people also envied the woman, who could eat all she wanted during her stay, she later said she felt like she had enough hotpot for the rest of her life.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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