Xiaohongshu Influencer: What Makes a Content Viral?

If you’ve been willing to advertise your brand in China, you may have heard of influencers on Xiaohongshu. Their content is more viral, optimized for luxury and fashion brands, and lasts over time. With an estimated 10 million influencers on the platform, it’s the jungle. But a Xiaohongshu influencer is a key marketing tool in China.

In this guide, I’m going to take you through all Xiaohongshu influencers’ secrets.

Let’s go!

What is Xiaohongshu?

Xiaohongshu is the leading social media in China focusing on fashion and lifestyle.

With 200 million monthly active users (MAU), the social network is among the most dynamic ones. Especially within the Chinese Gen Z and Millennials. This app, often called “the modern dictionary for everyday needs“, is the perfect blend of Instagram, Pinterest, and TripAdvisor.

The main account categories on the platform are:

  • Users Accounts: Regular users use the platform to share their daily lives, follow brands, watch new content, and search for product reviews
  • Brands Accounts: Official brands set up their own accounts to share their campaigns, products, activities, and latest news with their Chinese customers
  • Influencers Accounts: Small and large influencers build their community around a specific niche, product category, or lifestyle driving more engagement than any other Chinese platform

Let’s dive into the Xiaohongshu influencer’s world.

Xiaohongshu Influencers

A Xiaohongshu influencer is the firm favorite for marketers and PR managers today. Their content is more viral than on any other social media and they can drive more sales. Indeed, Xiaohongshu users said they follow influencers’ recommendations to make a purchase. And when it comes to luxury and fashion, younger generations give a higher credit to their post.

Fun fact, even HNWI are browsing on the platform for their next purchase.

xiaohongshu consumers profiles

In recent consumers interviews for a luxury brand, we interviewed 20 HNWI – High Net Worth Individuals with property assets in excess of $1 million USD. No matter their age, city, or lifestyle, they were all checking Xiaohongshu before making a purchasing decision.

According to a consumer report on Sohu, “48% of Chinese consumers are willing to spend a quarter of their income on products that their favorite KOLs recommend“.

Xiaohongshu Algorithm for Virality

A Xiaohongshu influencer is often selected by marketers due to his/her higher virality.

And this is mainly due to the unique Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) algorithm.

1. User Preferences

The platform is designed to push content based on user preferences. When a user creates his/her account, the first step is to fill in a questionnaire to tell the platform “What are your favorite topics and centers of interest?”.

xiaohongshu feed

Once the user has filled out the form, his account is automatically created. All the content, from other users, influencers, and brands talking about that specific topic will be pushed to his/her feed. The automatic opening feed is the “Explore” feed and not the “Follow” feed. Hence, Xiaohongshu users have a higher tendency to watch content from people they don’t follow than they follow.

Some following accounts can end up in the “Explore” feed though with the mention “Followed by you”.

little red book feed

The platform takes into account the said preferences and the built preferences. Xiaohongshu is monitoring users’ actions to push more content to their evolving tastes.

2. User Experience and User Interface

The user is at the center of the Xiaohongshu algorithm, which is totally different from Instagram. We are now familiar with these AI-powered algorithms like the ones on Douyin (TikTok). The user experience is made to discover.

On Xiaohongshu, the feed is optimized to propose new content to users every day. For instance, the “Nearby” feed enables users to discover new things that are close to them. Whether it is an event, a store, a restaurant, a place, etc. This is what makes content viral for luxury and fashion brands when they have a new store opening or a new event. They leverage both influencers and corporate content to push the activity to nearby consumers.

xiaohongshu influencer nearby

The user interface on the feed itself is made for users to stay longer.

The pictures are not right next to each other but are a little displaced to guide the browsing movement to stay on the app.

little red book posts display

And this interface is particularly useful when you search for a specific thing.

3. SEO Research

The majority of Western brands and individuals forget that Xiaohongshu was a shopping review platform initially.

It was not a social network – it was a platform to read products and brands’ reviews.

The search engine optimization (SEO) function on Xiaohongshu is strong. When you search for a specific term, it will display all the notes related to the topic you are searching for. Let’s say you want more information on “Chanel 22” bag. You hit the search button, type your request, and the platform will show you all the posts related to this bag that you can find interesting. Xiaohongshu will also recommend other topics that may be interesting for you like “Chanel 22 price”, “Chanel 22 colors”, or “Chanel 22 fake or real comparison”.

The SEO function is one of the strongest tools for content virality used by Xiaohongshu influencers. With the right words and keywords that people often search for, you may end up in their recommendation. This is why KOCs are so powerful in Xiaohongshu in China.

4. Content Quality over Time

This is the final algorithm asset used by Xiaohongshu influencers: content quality.

In brief, it means that no matter when your content is posted, it can appear in users’ feeds.

Even 3 years later.

This is why luxury and fashion brands love Xiaohongshu. Because any campaign you did with an influencer can have a lasting effect, even days or years after. On Instagram, it’s estimated that an Instagram influencer post has between 1-3 days of impact. On the other side, a Xiaohongshu influencer post has an impact from 1 day to 2 years.

Let’s see a case study.

For a luxury e-tailer, we worked on a KOC campaign with 20 influencers on Xiaohongshu. We implemented the campaign in 2 phases during 1 month of activation. In this single month, the sales of the luxury e-tailer reached 200,000€ in China. Why? Because users saw the new posts about the brand, searched for it, and ended up on older posts that talked about the good quality and service of the brand. Exposure turned into sales.

If you want to receive our case studies with more examples, you can click here.

Now, let’s move to our tips for selecting Xiaohongshu influencers.

How to Select the Right Xiaohongshu Influencers?

This is the main question I cover during my meetings with brands. Since, as we said earlier, there are an estimated 10 million influencers on Xiaohongshu, the selection can be very complex. A nightmare for some brands.

Here are 3 tips for selecting the right influencers when it comes to Xiaohongshu:

  1. Positioning
  2. Engagement
  3. Organic Content

Niche Positioning

A regular influencer style around 25-35 years old, living in Shanghai, and sharing her daily life will have a low impact on your brand’s success in China. The key is to find a Xiaohongshu influencer with a niche positioning.

By niche positioning, we mean an influencer who has a specific topic and a community engaged around this topic. For instance, a woman living in Sanya and doing surf. A man working as an artist in Beijing and sharing his daily inspirations. A woman working as an accountant and sharing brands or tips helps her in her work-life balance. The possibilities are unlimited and they will give more depth and intensity to the marketing message you want to convey.

And when the message is clear, the exposure and engagement rise.

Average Engagement over Followers

This is our second tip, the average engagement as a quality proof.

In the West, we have a tendency to review influencers through their number of fans and followers. In China, the number of followers is not the right criterion (especially in Xiaohongshu) where exposure exceeds largely the number of followers. To give you a concrete example, I launched my own Xiaohongshu account. I have only 12 followers (yes, very low) but I generated 600 views on each of my posts and I received 15 proposals for collaborations.

So, when you review a Xiaohongshu influencer’s potential, you need to look into his/her engagement – number of views, likes, collects, and comments. Not his amount of followers.

xiaohongshu influencer agency

Organic Review

Since Xiaohongshu’s algorithm revolves around consumer experience, organic reviews from influencers are key. If a Xiaohongshu influencer is posting bland content without actual pros and cons for his/her followers, the post can be taken down by the algorithm. Your post will stay on the platform but the views will be very low.

This is why key opinion consumers in China (KOCs) are important for brands. Because brands have less control over their content. It doesn’t mean they will affect your brand image. It means they will share honest feedback that will increase consumers’ trust in China. And this is when brands achieve the best results.

Luxury and Fashion Brands with Xiaohongshu Influencers

The running brand On managed the perfect leverage of Xiaohongshu. They worked with large and small influencers to increase their notoriety among the different consumer groups. They did not only target athletes but also runners, athleisure lovers, youngsters, comfort seekers, etc.

This is where the Xiahongshu influencer with a product review, organic feedback, and lasting effect played his part.

At Reverse Group, we organize influencers campaigns for brands and companies of all sizes. We have our own pool of Chinese influencers and Western influencers posting on social media in China. Xiaohongshu is our key asset with 100+ niche influencers.

Contact us for your influencer project in China, we manage from profiles’ selection to posting and data monitoring.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top