What makes China 's influencer community different from the US?

The influencers in China (wanghong) are more diverse than the ones in the West. The scope of topics is very broad and goes way beyond fashionistas and food reviews. Some influencers address an audience that simply does not exist on social media in the West. Some managed to reach for people way outside of their original communities. Many are making big money.

A good example of an untypical audience is elderly people. They have a lot of time on their hands, want to keep in touch with their relatives and therefore use Wechat intensively. I have friends on my Wechat that are over 80 years old (they are the best). They share articles, gifs and videos all day. Most of these things come from big influencers. They buy A LOT of things recommended by them - mostly longevity products.

Another example is urban-rural connection. Many young urban Chinese come from small cities or villages. Very often, they feel isolated in big cities and miss their home. Some people have figured out they could exploit that urban homesickness to earn money by broadcasting their daily life in the countryside. It happens that one of the main channel for influencers in China is real time video (zhibo). The micropayment system on most Chinese platforms allow users to send money in the form of various gifts during the broadcast, generating good streams of revenue. Many influencers channels have also grown their own line of “lifestyle” products.

The wanghong business is very large in China. I live in France and if you pay attention it is not rare to see influencers coming for a shooting or a live broadcast with an entire staff.

This text was originally published in quora.

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