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Web celebrities promote faraway journeys

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-29 07:21

China's web-celebrity industry is estimated to be worth 52.8 billion yuan ($7.65 billion) and is forecast to exceed 100 billion yuan in 2018, a 2016 report by Beijing-based consultancy Analysys says.

These influencers are emerging in greater numbers as media categories expand beyond traditional types, ‪'s tourism research head Feng Rao says.

Famous Chinese travel bloggers simply wished to share their experiences rather than pursue profit like the blogging heydays 10 years ago, he says.

New influencers' dependence on social media compromises quality since they operate for the purpose of attracting fans to generate money.

"Social media fans are more loyal and interactive," Feng says. "The speed and breadth of communication is greater. But the quality of social media content varies. Market regulations are needed."

Their youth and internet savvy are valuable. They can quickly gather and analyze information, he points out.

"They must continue to produce quality content. Or else, they may be knocked out of the market in a year or two."

Beijing-based Travel Fun Media's founder and CEO Cong Lin also says content is king.

"New influencers work hard to achieve the success of the moment. It's difficult to keep it up."

The company is a multichannel networking platform that trains and provides agents for web travel celebrities. It has signed contracts with 150 online influencers, who focus on travel, food or fashion.

Many were born in the 1980s and '90s. About 70 percent are full-time commentators.

Cong explains early travel bloggers were adept at writing and photography, and rarely appeared in front of the camera. The new generation is often good-looking, funny and versatile. They typically have fashion sense.

"Communication channels are changing," she says.

"Clients like tourism bureaus and travel agencies often value the skills of live broadcasting and making short videos more than professional photography."

Clients are eager to work with such influencers because of the strong results.

A good reputation online is vital for Chinese choosing destinations.

"It's also important to work with traditional media to enhance their influence in the industry," she says.

Income and opportunities are dependent upon the number of online fans.

A travel celebrity with more than a million followers on Sina Weibo may earn tens of thousands of yuan from a sponsored trip to promote a destination. They're also sought by advertisers from such industries as digital products and cosmetics.


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