Chinese online consumer habits, content trends, and social media platforms are constantly changing, and for those of us doing business in China, it’s vitally important to keep up with the latest information. One of the best ways to get insight is by speaking directly with Chinese key opinion leaders (KOLs) who, by the nature of their careers, must always have their finger on the pulse of the ever-growing online marketplace.
In a recent interview for the China Influencer Marketing podcast, Weibo luxury fashion influencer Anny Lou shared her thoughts on hot social media and influencer marketing topics: Is it worthwhile to invest in Douyin and Xiaohongshu? Can top-tier influencers still generate high engagement? And does product seeding actually work?
But first, a bit of background on Anny: Anny Lou (@安妮时髦) grew up dreaming of becoming a fashion model and studied fashion design in Germany and the U.K. After returning to China, she won a Rayli magazine modeling competition and modeled professionally for several years. Today, Lou is an influential fashion director for the Shanghai Morning Post.
In addition to her full-time role at the Post, Lou is also a prominent fashion influencer, having worked with renowned, Christian Louboutin, Shiseido, and others. She’s been active on Weibo since 2010 and currently has over 1.6 million followers. Lou is also active on WeChat and Instagram, while dabbling in some other platforms.
Here are some highlights from Jing Daily’s interview with Anny Lou below:
Douyin and Xiaohongshu have grown massively in popularity over the past year or so. Are you finding an audience on these platforms yet?
I’m still focusing on Weibo and WeChat because my team and I are most familiar with these platforms. We have been observing all the data on these two platforms, Douyin and Xiaohongshu, and I know they are very hot at the moment, but we are not convinced that they are here to stay. Weibo and WeChat on the other hand, are both established, and Weibo has remained popular for over nine years now.
Data shows that an influencer’s following size and their level of post engagement can have a negative correlation. That begs the question: How do you keep your influence personal while continuing to grow it?
Of course, I will recommend great products and brands that I like, but I often will ask them what they like to wear, their experience with a brand, or if they have anything to recommend. So basically, it’s more like an exchange between close friends, I give you advice, you give me advice.
Many influencers and celebrities in China have turned to live streaming as a way of creating a more intimate, direct connection with their followers. Are you connecting to your fans via any video platforms?
Vlogs are the new sensation right now — everyone is doing it. I think vlogging is really smart because it helps our audience get to know us better — much more than they can from pictures or other types of video. Vlogs also give fans a three-dimensional image of what our lives are like: where we live, how we talk, what we do, everything. Now with vlogs, my fans feel like they are actually my friends, even though we’ve never met in real life. They will say things like, “Oh yea, Anny went there. Anny bought that,” just like they were describing the actions of their close friend.
You said you prefer to collaborate with famous or well-respected brands. What would it take for you to work with a smaller, lesser-known brand?
I’ll be more likely to give it a chance if the packaging is cute.
You receive numerous boxes of free products from brands every day. Is it hard to decide which ones to post about?
My team and I don’t do this just for the money — we do it because it’s something we love to do, so if I find a great product, then we would love to let everyone know about it. For example, I once received these Sailor Moon contact lenses. I love Sailor Moon, and so do my fans, and the packaging and product were nice, so I definitely wanted to post about it and let them know something like this exists.
Which fans of yours actually go out and try the new products you promote?
It’s definitely generational. My generation. We are willing to try new brands after we read reviews and do research online, especially if the newer brand is good quality but more affordable than some of the big brands. But the generations before us aren’t as easily convinced to try something new. They’d rather stick with established brands with a long history like Louis Vuitton.
The answers have been condensed and edited. Listen to the entire interview here.