Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) is arguably one of the hottest platforms of 2019 and should be included in every brand’s influencer marketing strategy. Not quite the cross-border e-commerce platform that many marketers predicted it would be, and not quite the review space once claimed by the likes of Dianping, Xiaohongshu is made up of a grassroots community of XHS KOLs where information is spread via word of mouth for products, brands, travel destinations, and more. What makes it special is that the platform strives to retain authentic, community-focused content that brings value to its user from influencers.
Staying relevant on the social media app means constantly staying on top of its guidelines—ones that have been known to throw even celebrities for a loop in their efforts to publish sponsored content. High performing XHS KOLs that master the algorithm are delivering quality and informative content to their fans, but in an increasingly saturated world of Xiaohongshu influencers, success is often measured by their ability to find their own voice.
To gain better insight, we spoke with three Xiaohongshu influencers to find out how they’re using the platform as it continues to evolve.
Who are the Xiaohongshu Influencers:
Luxury handbag influencer Kiki (包包比价狂Kiki) started posting on Xiaohongshu in April 2018 and has amassed more than 19,000 followers. On her official WeChat account, she has cooperated with a range of high-end labels, including Prada, Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Longchamp, and others. On Xiaohongshu, she keeps her content more personal, with posts ranging from tips on investing in bags, unboxing videos, and trend reporting.
Xixi (吃不胖小西西) is a Xiaohongshu beauty blogger and former makeup artist for social media star and fashion blogger Becky Li. She supplements her WeChat official blog, “My Shopping List” with make-up tutorials and posts about cosmetic finds on her Xiaohongshu account, which has 54,000 followers. She started out her beauty journey watching make-up videos on YouTube when she was studying abroad in Canada.
Anita (Anitafeeling) is a XHS KOL with 83,000 followers and her own brand with a focus on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She’s done collaborations with brands ranging from Forevermark to Jo Malone, and uses the platform to share travel and restaurant experiences, skincare and make-up routines, and product reviews.
Understanding Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book)
From 3 XHS KOLs’ Perspective
How is Xiaohongshu different from other platforms?
Kiki: It’s special because you never know how many followers or views you’ll get after posting something. Your audience does not have to subscribe to your account to see a post. Excellent content will stand out.
Xixi: The thing that distinguishes XHS from other apps is that everyone can share their recommended products and their life anytime on this platform. It’s immersive and real.
Anita: Little Red Book is a very special app. It’s different from other social networks like Instagram—everyone who is posting on the platform is recommending something. And despite what some people may think, it is not a pure e-commerce platform.
What is your most important tip for creating content?
Kiki: You should always make your audience your priority by thinking about what content is most useful for them.
Xixi: In my opinion, the most important thing is to share the real you. Users like to watch XHS KOLs share their lives, what products they use, what food they eat, and where they go. That’s the most important content for them. The most popular content on XHS is makeup tutorials and XHS KOLs visiting brick and mortar stores.
Anita: It’s to “be yourself”. You must create content that conveys your real feelings and your real experiences. The content should be real, interesting and motivate users to communicate. Practical content is always popular on the platform, like exercises users can try to lose weight, notes regarding great travel spots, and the right way to apply a facial mask.
What is a successful post on Xiaohongshu and how do you know?
Kiki: You get a lot of likes and favourites when a post is successful. Normally, attractive content written by an influencer with 1 million followers on XHS can easily get 400 likes or more. For me, I’m really interested in doing price comparisons (I realised this when doing my Masters in marketing at Johns Hopkins). My post comparing the prices of classic Louis Vuitton bags around the received 1,000 likes, when I only had 10,000 followers!
Do you usually stick to one style when you post? What gets the most engagement from your followers?
Kiki: No, each theme has a different style. For example, I’ll do a 60-second video for an ‘unboxing’, while a post about handbag trends is usually more visual with fewer words. But pictures with a price comparison always works best, such as the post I did that compared prices of classic Louis Vuitton handbags around the world. Content with practical tips, like a post that teaches my fans how to deal with a long handbag strap, also do well.
Xixi: I share some short video on XHS, but most of my content is text a combination of text and pictures, which I feel like is more appreciated by my fans. The content should be easy to understand.
Anita: Almost all of my content is in graphic form. The combination of pictures and text is easy for readers to digest and I can get more feedback from my audience. I am also going to try to post more video content because this is a new trend on social media.
Do influencers on Xiaohongshu need to be cautious when posting sponsored content?
Kiki: Although I don’t do any sponsored content on Xiaohongshu, I think it’s likely that the same rules apply as my approach on WeChat. You need to always be real and share your true feelings when doing sponsored content, or you’ll lose your audience’s trust.
Anita: The sponsored content on Little Red Book is different from the other commercial advertisements. The content should be soft and reliable, and not only introducing the product, but also relaying your real feelings. More importantly, you have to follow Little Red Book’s rules by indicating whether posts are sponsored.
Xiaohongshu recently changed its rules for sponsored posts and influencers — has this had any effect on your own blogging strategy?
Kiki: Not really. Because we aim to produce excellent content, the new rules provide us with a more fair platform where we can do more cooperation.
What are some of the challenges you face on Xiaohongshu?
Kiki: There are more and more excellent influencers using this platform, so the competition is getting more fierce. Sometimes even high-quality content could get buried, so you should always be coming up with fresh ideas to keep your audience engaged.
Xixi: The rules for XHS KOLs are relatively similar to other platforms—it’s critical to create your own style and structure. The most difficult part is sticking to it.
Anita: You have to produce more quality content while always being yourself. The rules of Little Red Book are always changing, so while you never know what’s coming around the corner, you have to change as the platform changes.
Any other tips for an influencer or brand that is new to using Xiaohongshu?
Xixi: Be approachable for your readers while creating solid content. In my personal experience, beginner tutorial videos are quite popular and have high rates of engagement.