The Impact of Chinese Celebrities in Social Media
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Nowadays, people are more likely relying on word-of-mouth from their friends and family through the social media platform. Online users believe that their peers' experiences and opinions are significant and reliable. Like in China, Chinese users prefer peer-to-peer conversations and recommendations in the social media world. Particularly, Chinese celebrities act as an influential role in social media sites because users believe what their favorite celebrities talk about in the blogs.
In fact, social media sites act as a celebrity hub in which celebrities can connect with their fans more directly and quickly. As the most popular social media sites in China, Sina Weibo becomes a communication tool for Chinese celebrities to interact with their fans. As a user of Weibo, and my friends from China, most of the blogs and users that we are currently “following” are the celebrities that we are interested in. They always update their blogs with pictures and share what they have done throughout the day with us through Weibo. It is very interesting to look at their blog posts because we might get some useful information from them.
For instance, a female singer that I am “following” in Weibo loves sharing her new cosmetics with us. She always tries different new products like lipsticks and eyeliners from different brands and makes comparisons. From her blog posts, I can learn how to do make up in a better way and understand which brand has a better product.
Another female celebrity that I am “following” is the VIP of many luxury brands; she always has the priority of getting the latest products from the companies. Once she gets a product, she will post a picture in Weibo and comment about it. Through her commentary, I can have a better idea of how the product, like handbags, exactly looks like in a real person, and see if it is worth to purchase or not.
Additionally, comparing with the Western celebrities with their Twitter accounts, Chinese celebrities update their Weibo accounts at least twice a day; they love to share what they are doing. For example, the celebrities will take a picture of themselves and tell their fans that they are filming a new movie, or they will post a picture of what they are eating right now. Regarding to the number of followers, I tried to compare several similar Twitter accounts that some Western celebrities also talk about cosmetics and fashion trend. Indeed, there is a huge difference between the Chinese and the American followers; over thirteen million “followers” are “following” a famous Chinese stylist in Weibo while only one million “followers” are now “following” Rachel Zoe’s (one of the famous American stylist) Twitter account. This is suggested that the impact of the Chinese celebrities through the social media sites is greater than that in the United States.
Meanwhile, there is an interesting thing about the Chinese celebrities and their fans: if one celebrity did not update his/her Weibo account on one day, fans would guess something has happened to the celebrity, they would probably leave a comment on his/her Weibo and ask if he/she is sick or is suffering in any particular issues. This indicates that the blog posts from the Chinese celebrities’ Weibo are very critical to the fans and the people who “following” the blogs.
There is another example showing the celebrities in China have a great influence towards the public. Few years ago, China started to be aware of not eating shark fins in soup (which is a typical custom for Chinese people to eat when they celebrate, such as wedding party).
However, the public neglects the issue and continues eating the soup. Nevertheless, once many popular celebrities started a campaign of “Stop killing sharks. Stop eating Shark fins in soup.” in Weibo, many of their fans supported their celebrities; many users reposted the celebrities’ posts in Weibo. A huge debate on sharks’ fins occurred. The campaign has grabbed the government’s attention; a new rule of limiting the amount of eating sharks’ fins was carried out. Although the number of not eating sharks’ fins in soup did not decrease significantly, the public awareness has increased; Chinese people started to realize the issue of the endangered species.
Based on the examples, it is suggested that the opinions from celebrities are deemed to be more pursuable and intimate to online users. In regard to the influences by Sina Weibo, using celebrities through social media as one of the advertising channels would be successful in China. For example, companies can invite some popular celebrities to their product launch events to grab the public attention, and encourage them to talk about the event and the product through their Weibo. Some companies like cosmetic companies can also invite celebrities to be their spokesperson and give them free samples to try. If they like it, there is a higher possibility that the celebrity would talk about their favorable product through their blogs too.
By using celebrity as one of the online advertising platforms, and the most popular social media sites Weibo, there is no doubt that companies have a better competitive advantage in the Chinese market. Not only is the influence of a celebrity powerful, but also word-of-mouth, both critical in the social media world in China. People are more valuable to influence people’s thoughts, opinions and experiences than those professionals’ websites. In other words, companies should pay more attention on their celebrities’ endorsement through social media as it is an important constituent for consumer activity in the virtual world.