In­ter­net celebs: a force to be reck­oned with

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s on­line celebrity phe­nom­e­non has be­come an emerg­ing in­dus­try that has real in­vest­ment value and is sus­tained mainly by short videos, live stream­ing and in­ter­net-based com­merce, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 On­line Celebrity White Pa­per.

Jointly pub­lished on June 16 by Sina Weibo and iRe­search, the white pa­per pro­vides an ex­ten­sive anal­y­sis on the cy­ber celebrity-re­lated econ­omy. It states that cy­ber in­flu­encers are com­pet­ing in terms of ap­pear­ance, con­tent, team­work and pro­duc­tion abil­ity, while shift­ing their fo­cus grad­u­ally to the use of videos, live stream­ing and on­line com­merce to en­gage their fans.

Wang Gaofei, CEO of Sina Weibo, said that in this mo­bile In­ter­net era, con­tent con­sump­tion has be­come more frag­mented and so­cial me­dia cur­rently pro­vides the big­gest en­trance to the new con­sumer mar­ket.

“There is no sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence in the groom­ing of a cy­ber celebrity and tra­di­tional celebrity. How­ever, the fol­low­ers of on­line in­flu­encers tend to be more loyal. We be­lieve the bound­ary be­tween the two will be­come in­creas­ingly vague in the fu­ture,” said Wang.

A sur­vey con­ducted by iRe­search and Weibo shows that as of May this year, the num­ber of peo­ple fol­low­ing some 360,000 Weibo celebrity ac­counts grew nearly three­fold to 385 mil­lion in the last two years.

The mas­sive fan base has sub­se­quently al­lowed Weibo celebri­ties to am­plify their voice — in the first five months of 2016, these celebrity ac­counts gar­nered more than 710 bil­lion views as well as 2.9 bil­lion likes, shares or com­ments.

Of the 360,000 ac­counts fac­tored in the sur­vey, 74 per­cent are owned by fe­male celebri­ties. Mean­while, 87.8 per­cent of ac­count users are aged be­tween 17 and 33 while 89 per­cent of them went to col­lege, said Zou Lei, co-pres­i­dent of iRe­search Con­sult­ing.

The num­bers also showed that most of the on­line celebri­ties are from more eco­nom­i­cally de­vel­oped re­gions such as Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guang­dong, Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang prov­inces.

The sur­vey found that most of the fol­low­ers of on­line celebri­ties are young peo­ple with high ed­u­ca­tion lev­els — 77.8 per­cent of the fol­low­ers are aged be­tween 17 and 33, and 75 per­cent have grad­u­ated from col­lege. Males make up the ma­jor­ity of the fol­low­ers, ac­count­ing for 57.8 per­cent. Mean­while, Bei­jing, Jiangsu, and Guang­dong are home to the largest num­ber of fol­low­ers.

In the first quar­ter of this year, daily view­ing du­ra­tions of video clips posted on Weibo soared 489 per­cent year-onyear. Papi Jiang, an on­line celebrity who of­ten posts comedic speed-talk­ing mono­logues, up­loaded 69 videos be­tween Jan­uary and March, and views of her videos hit 246 mil­lion, ac­count­ing for 45.6 per­cent of all video views on Weibo. She has about 15.9 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Weibo.

Papi Jiang is widely rec­og­nized as the most sig­nif­i­cant on­line celebrity in China to date. The 29-year-old woman, whose real name is Jiang Yilei, is a grad­u­ate from the Cen­tral Academy of Drama and had in March re­ceived 12 mil­lion yuan in ven­ture cap­i­tal.

In the e-com­merce arena, on­line celebri­ties are ex­pected to cash on their Weibo views by co­op­er­at­ing with on­line shop­ping plat­forms. The most no­table ex­am­ple is Papi Jiang, who ear­lier this year auc­tioned off her first ad­ver­tis­ing spot for 22 mil­lion yuan on Alibaba’s auc­tion plat­form.

The white pa­per also said that the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the on­line celebrity econ­omy in China is still in its in­fancy — only 23.8 per­cent of cy­ber celebri­ties in China have signed con­tracts with pro­fes­sional agents. It also fore­cast that the com­pe­ti­tion for re­sources and plat­forms will be­come fiercer as more cap­i­tal flows into the in­dus­try.

There is no sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence in the groom­ing of a cy­ber celebrity and tra­di­tional celebrity. How­ever, the fol­low­ers of on­line in­flu­encers tend to be more loyal.” CEO of Sina Weibo

Bai Yi­meng in Shang­hai con­trib­uted to this story.

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