In recent years, Tiktok, Kuaishou, Livestreams and other video-sharing social networking services have rapidly emerged in China. Which brings huge business opportunities and creates a huge opportunity for large-scale viral marketing as a new way to promote the sales of products. To quickly occupy the consumer market, influencer marketing also has become a necessity for many brands. Let influencers use viral marketing to obtain huge profits from the market. Among them, the most popular and profitable influencer is Jiaqi Li (Austin Li). He is “Lipstick King” the leader among the influencers in China. According to Huang (2020), Jiaqi Li earned 200 million yuan (29 million US dollars) in 2019. This is due to his utilising viral marketing well.
Want to be as successful as ‘Lipstick King’ Jiaqi Li (Austin Li) and earn more than $10 million within a year? Then you must know how to utilize viral marketing well with four steps: Clear position and target segmentation, Methods of making content go viral, Good use of the media platforms. Then, understanding channels of gaining profit.
Step 1: Clear positioning and target segmentation
Firstly, Chinese influencers need to know what the purpose of their viral marketing is. Is it to promote a brand? Attract customers to shop? Increase the click-through-rate of web content? Only by clarifying the purpose of marketing can find a clear positioning. For example, if Jiaqi Li’s purpose of using viral marketing was selling lipsticks as much as possible, He is positioned as a lipstick salesman. So, his viral content should relate to lipstick. Only having a clear position, influencers could go the next step.
Finding the right target group is a prerequisite for viral marketing. According to Domingos (2005), if influencers find the optimal customer group, they are easier market products to their audience and get profit through customers’ sharing and word-of-mouth. Moreover, only customers who are interested in products will have the motivation to buy, and the more such customers, the better. For example, Jiaqi Li focused on selling lipsticks, the target audience is mainly women. Because lipsticks can help women have more beautiful makeup, women have the motivation to buy them. But if his target audience is men, selling lipsticks is ridiculous. Thus, It is important for viral marketing to find optimal target segmentation.
Step 2: Methods of making content go viral
Use unique and impressive content
Novel and unique content is useful for influencers to attract customers and build a relationship with their target audience. The content should be impressive and arouse customer emotions. For example, Catchy and memorable slogans could be good viral content, such as Jiaqi Li’s famous slogan “OMG! BUY! BUY! BUY!”.
This slogan is not only powerful but also full of hints of “purchase” signal, which is easy to inspire customers’ subconscious of “go buy”. Moreover, influencers could make good use of the uniqueness of the language to deepen customers’ impression. Compared with the monotonous descriptions of lipstick colours in other beauty salesmen, Jiaqi Li exaggerated descriptions, such as “colours that stop my heartbeat” or “colours that are as soft as water”. Such interesting descriptions could make customers impressive and more willing to buy and share. It can be seen that unique and impressive content can attract customers’ attention very well.
Use customers’ motivation
People desire good things. Jiaqi Li utilizes girls’ motivation of desiring to become beautiful so that girls are willing to buy lipsticks and share viral contents. For another example, foodie influencers who use people’s motivation that love food to let customers buy and share. It shows the audience’s motives could drive them to “buy” and “share” behaviours (Wilson, 2000).
Finding a unique advantage
Having a unique advantage is key to being long-term popular and having more resources and followers. In the beauty makeup market, influencers are generally women without freshness. For Jiaqi Li, gender is his unique advantage in the beauty market. It is undeniable that male beauty influencers (figure 3) can more easily arouse curiosity among female customers. Also, the market lacks professional male beauty influencers like Jiaqi Li. Therefore, his unique advantage makes him go viral. Which shows to find a unique advantage in the demand market is the key to standing out.
Step 3: Good use of media platforms
Choose media platforms that are easy to spread.
According to Wilson (2000), multimedia platforms not only make instant communication so simple and cheap but also helps viral marketing to spread on the internet. Viral marketing can be attached to various emerging channels such as Tiktok, Kuaishou and other popular short video platforms or Taobao Livestream platforms (figure 4) to strengthen influencers’ power of interpersonal networks.
Furthermore, Lu and Lakshmanan (2012) mentioned that popular online social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (figure 5) also have provided huge opportunities for viral marketing to diffuse quickly. Also, these channels are all easy to operate, which could make audiences more willing to share content so that the content goes viral.
Keeping high exposure
Chinese influencers need to ensure high exposure while making full use of various publicity platforms. Because there is no shortage of popular influencers in the market. Influencer marketing is highly competitive, and the speed of replacement is very fast. If influencers can’t occupy the audience’s vision continually, the audience will forget them quickly. Even Jiaqi Li said if he only stops Livestreams for one day, then his followers are likely to be attracted by thousands of such Livestreams (Xu, 2019). Therefore, don’t test the memory of the audience, please maintain a high exposure rate.
Only after Chinese influencers can well utilise these first three steps of viral marketing to make themselves and content go viral, they probably become the leader of influencers. This is the prerequisite for making huge profits.
Step 4: Understanding channels of gaining profit
WOM effect is one of the most effective channels for brands to spread content. Also, maximizing WOM could maximize net profit. Because audiences’ positive WOM not only is free but also could help influencers to build a better image. A good reputation helps influencers attract more followers, sponsors, and increase click-through-rate. Thus, positive WOM is a kind of intangible wealth.
By converting click-volume into cash
In the online market, the volume of clicks on content can be directly converted into benefits. Each click can be profitable. Also, The influencers with more volume of clicks mean they go viral and popular, consumers are more willing to buy the products they recommend. Which makes them earn more profit by selling out more products. Generally, first-class influencers can charge up to RMB 800,000 or even RMB 1 million for a selling Livestream with high-click-volume (“Online influencers turning,” 2019). Assuming a first-class influencer accomplished 10 to 20 high-click-volume (eg: million of clicks) Livestreams within a year, to earn more than $10million is a piece of cake. But only 10-20 Livestreams within a year are very few for the top influencer. For example, Jiaqi Li who is the top influencer earned billions of RMB (more than $100 million) through thousands of high-click-volume Livestreams every year (Xu, 2019). It shows high-click content can bring a lot of profit.
Sponsorship and commission
When a Chinese influencer has a good reputation and viral content, it will attract many sponsors and cooperating businesses. Sponsors are mostly from big brands or large trading platforms such as Alibaba, Jingdong (JD), etc. Also, the sponsorship amount is usually huge. According to Feng (2019), JD has invested at least 1 billion yuan to cooperate with popular influencers in short video sharing platforms such as TikTok and Kuaishou. Top influencers like Jiaqi Li can receive sponsorships of tens of millions a year. Besides, the commission is generally 20% of the total sales. To give an extreme but intuitive example, if Jiaqi Li sells goods worth 100 million US dollars, his commission will be $20 million. Actually, Jiaqi Li could achieve it and even more. Predictably, sponsorship and commission provide huge profit for top influencers.
In conclusion, Chinese influencers have to master these four steps of viral marketing: Clear position and target segmentation, Methods of making content go viral, Good use of the media platforms, understanding channels of gaining profit. Which is not only the key for influencers and content to go viral but also letting them earn more than $10 million in one year is no longer a daydream!!!