Becky Li is not your average digital influencer.
The journalist-turned-fashion-blogger is one of the most influential of her kind in China. She counts more than three million followers on Weibo and more than 4.5 million followers on WeChat, and has unprecedented influence over the shopping behavior of her followers.
Dubbed “Mai Shen” – Chinese for “Goddess of Shopping” – Li sold 100 Mini Cooper Countryman cars within five minutes on her Becky’s Fantasy WeChat blog last year.
The limited-edition model, priced at 285,000 yuan (US$45,500) and painted in a rare turquoise hue called the Caribbean Aqua, had been made available first to her followers on Becky’s Fantasy.
Li – whose real name is Fang Yimin – had begun working as a journalist in 2002 at the Southern Metropolis News – a daily newspaper based in Guangzhou. She covered local and entertainment news, but quit in 2015 to become a full-time blogger. Since then Li has collaborated with a variety of luxury brands, including Burberry, Giorgio Armani, and Tiffany & Co.
Vivian Chen caught up with the Chinese key opinion leader (KOL) to talk about the secrets of her success.
Do you feel the new generation of Chinese consumers is more easily influenced by KOLs?
Today the new generation of consumers are savvier and more rational. Instead of chasing blindly after the latest trends, they are more focused on their own needs. Hence, they are more connected to KOLs who share their tastes and interests. Now customers have more choice because of the variety of KOLs out there.
What do you think is the role of Chinese digital influencers?
Digital influencers act as a bridge between brands and readers and promote greater interaction. For example, my readers love my stories on the histories of brands, which they wouldn’t have actively sought out before.
Trust is also important. We build up a bond with our readers through daily articles and communications on our platform. We are like friends – but more than friends, because of the trust we’ve built up together. We provide a good channel of communication that shortens the distance between the brand and the average shopper.
As a successful influencer, what kind of content better resonates with audiences?
I don’t really think too much about it. In fact, I trust my instincts when I write and I believe that’s the beauty of blogging. My readers always tell me that they feel as if my stories speak to them like a friend.
I also write only about topics that interest me. For example, when I’m looking to buy a printed dress I’ll write about it. I hear an interesting song and I’ll write about it.
What do you think are the key reasons for your success?
Firstly I think it’s the right moment to run my own blog. Secondly, I think it’s the trust. The topics that I write about truly interest me, and the products I recommend I have tested myself.
Also, I think I understand what my readers want from understanding myself. I also listen to their needs by going through all the comments.
I feel very lucky that I’ve had some great success. For example, our advertorial about a German fine jewelry brand received more than 150,000 page views and we managed to reach one million sales in three days.
How are digital KOLs different from pop idols and celebrities when it comes to changing shopping behavior?
It’s hard to compare because celebrities have a loyal fan following. Fans will buy the products that celebrities promote no matter what. But for digital influencers like me, I connect to my readers because, like them, I’m also an average person. I’m not a pop idol.
My experiences will speak to them in a more direct way.