China takes another leap forward in how news and life is consumed. While Americans lose trust in the media, the Chinese are turning to KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders who provide news on a more emotional, rather than reason-focused, level.
Through the use of “self-media” or user-generated content, KOL’s are not just trying to report the news on their ground level, they’re becoming influencers on a greater scale. Aside from just reporting the news, content creators are able to team up with brands and even add links to their articles so consumers can get the product immediately, rather than waste time searching for it on their own. Former finance reporter and now public account writer, Xu Yang says “Once you have a following, ad agencies will find you and you will start to earn”. With advertising on WeChat doubling from 2015 to 2016, it’s no surprise more and more are signing up.
In 2016 alone, 33 teams of content creators generated over $15 million. When you take into account the fact that WeChat has over 938 million users in a given month, from people all over the world, those numbers don’t seem so impossible. One WeChat columnist, He Caitou informed that he averages $602 per click, once receiving over $4 thousand on a short piece he wrote.
This is achieved through the tipping option in WeChat. Users can send tips to content creators. That combined with the soon to be included “Pay-to-read” option, content creators have the potential to receive more and more money while keeping their viewers and followers well informed. Some say the pay to read option could increase censorship, however, others say it will be increasing journalistic standards, not held by traditional journalism.
However, traditional media outlets are beginning to understand the power of the WeChat reporting as more and more articles posted on WeChat are being featured in news papers, tv news, etc. With 34.6 percent of the 938 million users are on the WeChat app for over 4 hours each day, traditional media outlets learned quickly how to source more content to get their viewers.
Another reason WeChat is becoming more and more popular and content creators are gaining more power, is they report more with emotion vs. logic. Hitting their viewers where it matters most so they can see the outcome of the news, rather than just the reporting of it. The understanding of how creators are connecting to their viewers is understanding what makes them tick. One reason for the influx is called, “the three friends phenomenon”. This ties to if you have three friends that tell you what you should buy, read, and watch. WeChat steps right in the middle of that and provides each one.