We are not going to argue, bloggers actually occupy their niche on the market and play a vital role in digital marketing. However do you know much about Chinese celebrities and key opinion leaders? Let’s make a dive into Chinese blogosphere to realize why cyber celebrities are more influential than TV stars and why content marketing is still the key thing. 


Cyber celebrities are in demand

Bloggers are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, however Chinese social ecosystem anywise differentiates itself from others. The country is characterized by a considerable regulation of mass media and the influence of conventional celebrities does not beat Western countries. Supplement it with more than 650 million social users (the number which exceeds twice the population of the US) and you will get the system, where quite ordinary young people become key opinion leaders, who have a strong impact on tendencies and society’s opinion.

Take, for example, Ava Foo, the 29-year-old girl from Shanghai, who has started with nice selfies and looks in her favorite clothes, and now she has more than 320 thousands of followers on Weibo (Chinese microblogging website) and currently being engaged with Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Vogue and other advertising campaigns. Shortly after this first success, Foo decided to make use of her microblog and the connection with her followers. Together with fashion blogger Nikki Min, they’ve launched an apparel brand Ava&Nikki. The project is not hyped yet, and the sales are small, however bloggers believe in their perspectives and the development of the designer brand.

Such forms of business promotion and marketing may seem quite unreliable and confined, however Chinese social engagement assuages any doubts. Bloggers “cherry-pick” the products they want to promote because they appreciate their reputation which is inseparable from the level of trust and loyalty of their followers. What is more, according to McKinsey’s research, Chinese consumers prioritize the online recommendations of their friends (as well as offline) as the most important factor in their online buying choices.

The way to monetize fame: Taobao’s experience

As previously noted, a part of cyber celebrities move beyond and monetize their online popularity, publishing advertising posts or even launching their own business projects. According to CBNData estimations, the market for bloggers would reach RMB 58 billion ($8.83 billion) this year, which includes endorsement fees and commissions earned by spokespersons for merchandise sales. And honorariums of individual bloggers could also surprise you and exceed expectations: consider the example of Chinese Weibo vlogger Papi Jiang, who sold a one-time promotion in her video for 3.4 million dollars for cosmetics brand Lily&Beauty. Are video bloggers in fact so popular and influential to spend so impressive sums for one-time advertising? This issue is doubtful, however the global tendency encourages video bloggers and makes the majority of brands cooperate with them.

Alibaba company stands the pace: in 2015 it launched a campaign promoting Mobile Taobao (Chinese shopping application) and encouraging bloggers and online opinion leaders to create and share content. By tracking and analyzing views, recommendations and the process of sales generation, Taobao plans to generate RMB 2 billion ($305 million) in overall commissions in its first 3 years.


Deeply engaged users. Mobile Taobao


By this means, Taobao cyber celebrities “play the role of a bridge to connect merchants and consumers, helping merchants to understand real needs of customers,” – states Zhao Chao, one of the beneficiaries of Mobile Taobao program. “Bloggers start as consumers so they understand consumers. They know what they want.” Apparently (and drawing on figures), social users are more committed to bloggers and the level of credibility to their recommendations is significantly higher, so the social factor in e-commerce should never be underestimated.

The place of content in this ecosystem

Content marketing in China is not something established and conventional, however it increasingly picks up momentum and becoming more and more popular across brands and social platforms. According to PR Newswire, 31% of companies in China reduced traditional advertising budgets in 2015 and reallocated those funds to content marketing and new media.

Taobao supports this tendency and the change adoptions are actually aimed at creation of a single social lifestyle platform, which is orientated and highly influenced by its content. The content strategy is designed in a way that bloggers mediate and provide users with the better understanding of brands, products and tendencies.


Taobao. Newsfeed


What is more, company promotes the global trend of live streaming videos, like Facebook, Twitter and other giants already did, and provides Chinese cyber celebrities with an opportunity to share content more frequently and in a live broadcast. This innovation is aimed at creating “more exciting interaction between merchants and consumers,”- said Chen Lei, a manager at Mobile Taobao. Company’s experts believe that they key factors for operational effectiveness are content, celebrity advice and sales, and their opinion, in fact, is not far from the modern global trends.


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