Influencers on steroids: Live-streaming salespeople are the future of social media

Business & Technology

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Looking to make money from product recommendations and peer pressure, social media platforms from Twitter to Douyin are gradually reshaping their platforms around shopping. Taobao’s live-streamed Singles’ Day shopping event this week offered eye-opening proof that it works:

  • Star salesman Lǐ Jiāqí 李佳琦 sold $1.7 billion in products in just four hours, as people rushed to treat themselves weeks ahead of the November 11 consumption festival.
  • Li has the process down to a science, along with second-place streamer Viya. He talked up 252 products, or one every 57 seconds; Viya got to 341 by introducing something new every 42 seconds.

The context: Live-streamed shopping events are a recent phenomenon that exploded in 2018:

  • 55,000 of the 58,000 Chinese companies engaged in the business were born after 2016.
  • They’ve grown incredibly fast since: over 200 million viewers tuned into this week’s Taobao stream.

Why it matters: If you won’t buy from Li Jiaqi, there’s a good chance you’d buy from someone you know. Imagine the profit potential if both platforms and amateur streamers could replicate just a fraction of Li’s magic: that’s an opportunity commerce-curious companies are unlikely to pass up.