#01 How to be internet famous in China (Part 1 of “China’s internet and creation”)


China has only 55% internet penetration, but almost every person online is using a smartphone, therefore a lot of phone-optimized content (video, news, silly applications to make your selfies look beautiful) is created every day. As of this month of recording, October 2018, Bytedance, the Chinese company owning news aggregator Toutiao and short video app Douyin/Tik-tok, is now THE most valuable startup in the world, more than Uber or Baidu.


So, as I work on a television project I wanted to talk to those who just create articles, funny videos, and news on the Chinese internet. How do they make a living by creating online content? How do they find followers? And how big is the competition?


This episode will be a two-part series on how the internet is changing content creation in China. Next month we will look at how today’s advertisements are light years away from what was done just 5 years ago.



  • Erman – Weibo & Wechat influencer / 微博和微信( 就是曼仔 )影响者

Erman’s WeiboErman Instagram

Ben’s Instagram / Ben’s (personal) Douyin

  • Tang Yiqing /唐宜青 – Founder & CEO of media app “Juzi Yule” / 社交软件‘橘子娱乐’创始人兼CEO


  • And as usual, your host Aladin

Aladin’s LinkedinAladin’s TwitterAladin’s Instagram

From this interview we have found three take-aways: 从这次采访中,我们总结出三个主要观点:

1) Whatever you do, do it with heart, and glory awaits – 无论你做什么,精诚所至,金石为开

As you will create content solely in Mandarin, there are so many people in China waiting for quality content that fans will soon flock your account and be your die-hard fans. No need to overthink a strategy or work on something you don’t like just because it is today’s fashion. Content is king and you should first focus on what you like and what you are good at to share with the world.


2) When do you start running ads? – 什么时候开始投放广告?

As your brand will need time to develop, don’t start too soon to partner up with commercial clients. The question is not really if your followers will dislike it or not, but more that you need first to reach a good level of content creation that will allow you to get a lot of followers. When you have created enough videos and articles, then you can move on to phase two: Partner up with a brand and sell their product. Some people might hate it, especially when you do a “soft ad” which looks like real content, but the common people will understand you need to make a living and will forgive you.


3) Don’t try to cheat to become famous – 绝对不要试图靠撒谎来走红

There is a huge temptation to buy “zombie fans” or fake comments. First of all having a million fans for only a few likes and comments will definitely make your account look shady. Also, from time to time the platforms will purge fake accounts and might even punish you for it, so don’t accept weird propositions from strangers to sell you fans. Also you should rest assured that if you start working with a brand to help sell their product and you need to reach as many fans as possible you will have to pay the social media platform to help on that. And that kind of spending’s are usually part of the budget of the brand working with you. So just keep your head down and focus on having quality followers.


This episode will be a two-part series on how the internet is changing content creation in China. Next month we will look at how today’s advertisements are light years away from what was done just 5 years ago.


Thing we talked about and you might not know

A Wǎng Hóng (网红) is a celebrity on Chinese internet.

The infamous “internet water army” (网络水军 – wǎngluò shuǐjūn) are internet ghostwriters legendarily paid half a yuan for a hasty copy-pasted comments.

The apps and websites that we talked about were : 抖音 (dōuyīn – video) 快手 (kuàishǒu – video) 星座棋谈 (xīngzuò qítán – entertainment) and 今日头条 (jīnrì tóutiáo – news)

The red scarf (红领巾 – hónglǐngjīn) is an important symbol of the Young Pioneers of China. And hiring a porn star to wear it publicity for your brand can have long lasting consequences.

Ben Jonhson and his colleagues were inspired by the youtube creators “MamaHuhu – 马马虎虎”.

The young blogger that Erman mentionned is 曲玮玮 (qû wēi wēi).