Over the development of Internet and technology in China, mobile terminal have left an opportunity for entrepreneurs, and “We media” have become on of the hot topics on the internet.
What is “We media”
The study report by American Press Association in 2003 have defined We media as the delivery of their information by the general public based on their experiences. In China, We media platforms such as Wechat, Weibo, Toutiao uses pictures and videos to deliver information to the public by the public.
One of the characteristics of we media in China is the uniqueness, the unique style of presentation, be it written, video or pictures.
In other words, we media is marketing self, the one-of-a-kind personality and content of the individual empathized with the public. There is greater purpose behind the content than merely words, but to allow the audience to experience the interactivity and understanding as an KOL, rather than an emotionless association or organization.
Using “Rebecca’s imaginary world” as an example, this is a fashion blogger with over 5 million followers on Weibo. This blog uses the style of an older sister characteristic to teach others on how to style themselves and what to buy. Or Uncle Tong Dao who analyzes and shares characteristics of each horoscope signs using visual drawings of his own, as his own personal style of delivery.
Open to all
In the current explosive state of the internet, media platform such as Wechat and Weibo begun to create, deliver, and share information. This signifies the idea that everyone can be an we media as long as one has a platform and followers to create impact.
According to iiMedia Research statistics, from 2014 to 2015 the amount we media have escalated by 37%, and 20% from 2015 to 2016 with a slight regression. Since the beta of Wechat Official account in 2012, Wechat have dominated the we media industry by 63.4%. Over the past six years, Wechat official accounts now grown into a market size of 10 billion. Followed by Weibo, occupying 19.3% of the we media industry as a platform.
The contributing factor for the tremendous growth in we media is the lack information sharing and in traditional media such as newspaper, magazines. The public finds the convenience and acceptability of the we media easier and efficient.
As the representative of traditional media, Zhen Yu Luo slowly converging the industry to we media industry with short videos, live streaming, and VR technology, we media have the dullness of information delivery, creating multi-channels for sources of information, overriding the standardized content format.
Additionally, with the popularity of Wechat official accounts, the standards for self-employment have been lowered. Businesses no longer need professionals, technology, team and funds to start, they have access to we media. Content such as celebrity gossips, product recommendations, reviews produced by we media accounts are more capable to have higher impression, followers and engagements. Some influencers from 90’s also have an annual income of over millions.
How Does We media Profit?
With the adaption of we media, media marketing has begun to influence the market forming an new business opportunity and model.
Sponsorship is the most frequently adopted income generator, and there are two type of sponsorships.
The first type of sponsorship is to implement the sponsored message in the content or sharing the sponsored content. Observing the Weibo platform for influencers and KOL as an example, reposting a sponsored message can range from several hundred dollars in RMB to several tenths of hundreds depending on the number of followers, impression and engagement.
Wechat official accounts can incorporate sponsored message in a posting. Accounts with millions of followers’ sponsorship posts range from 20,000 to 100,000 dollars in RMB. There also some verified influencers in Weibo who have over 10 million followers, like Mimeng, who have a quota for sponsorship for over 750,000 dollars in RMB for 2018.
However, there are specific methods for delivery in we media suitable for specific group of audiences suitable for sponsorships, such as fashion, vehicles, reviews and more.
The second type of sponsorship is based on platforms advertising such as Wechat, Toutiao, 163, Sohu and more for self-advertising. These platforms have their own algorithm to calculate the amount of user traffic, CTR, engagement and more with the account used to be commissioned.
There is also a large sum of funding on the we media platforms to encourage the production of content creators. For instance, the project launched by Toutiao called “Thousand people and million dollars”, “Cultivation project” by Tencent, and “Dayu project” by UC funding approximately 20 billion dollars in RMB to encourage more content creators to purse their interest and career.
In comparison to the top influencers who have millions of followers, it is the most direct and secure method to use trafficking from the platform to profit. As long as the quality of the content is able to attract traffic to your platform, it is possible to attain a monthly salary of over 100,000 dollars in RMB.
After accumulating an fanbase on an account, some users may use the loyalty of these fanbase to start up an e-commerce business. This is also a revenue generator for we media, but there is an requirement for funding and a developed supply chain.
Some content creators may also link and incorporate their Taobao store on Weibo content. Fashion and beauty bloggers may use O2O model to engage in offline activities to make a profit. For instance, the platform personalized to food business or food chain owners, “Catering Owner Exclusive”. Some also open online store on Wechat, such as “Luo-gic and Thinking” selling digital book, courses, stationary, and home accessories. The owner Zhen Yu Luo will also write articles marketing specific products to increase sales.
There’s also self-made merchandise, such as “Leng Tu” from Uncle Tong Dao. Uncle Tong Dao who is known for his drawings are also creating his own merchandises based on his designs to generate more income. However, this can be a challenge for content creators as you may need business acumen, market knowledge for control, as well as experienced supply chain and sales experience.
High-quality content is always worth its value.
Between 2015 to 2016, Wechat official accounts have launched paid subscription and Weibo have launched Q&A (Question and Answers) function. Wechat official accounts have challenged users for quality content, where Weibo used the large population to maximize the interest of the internet with paying for Q&A.
With Wechat and Weibo as the representative of we media, the platform has also added an “Donation/Reward” function, where users can donate a certain amount to the content creator to display the love for the quality content, however, this function have not been highly used.
Aside from what’s been mentioned above, there’s also another method to convert knowledge to profit, membership. This membership model can be demonstrated by Luo-gic thinking by Zhen Yu Luo. The membership system launched by Zhen have been controversial, where there are only 5000 regular membership for 200 RMB and 500 loyal membership for 1200 RMB sold. The entire 5500 membership was sold in half a day, totaling up to 1.6 million RMB, but this membership model has not been replicated in the we media industry yet.
In the current prospect, there are little content creator who are able to reach a stable revenue generation through paid content. But with the continuous changes to copyrights in China, the quality and value of content will continue to regress, and quantity of paid content will continue to increase. According to iiMedia, the users paying for content size up to 0.98 billion people, estimating 2.92 billion users for 2018.
IP (Intellectual Property) Moneitizing
Producing high-quality content to serve the purpose of an valuable IP, expansion includes but not limited to publishing a book, but also consultations and planning, seminars, training and more to receive draft fee, copyright fee, consultation fee, remuneration fee.
Take the book published by Mimeng as an example named “I like this utilitarian world”, selling 1000 books in one minute, 50,000 in 4 hours. The benefit of publishing a book is not only to have content organized and systemized, but it can also increase exposure for your name and brand, killing two birds with one stone.
IP can also be used in multiple industry, using Papi-chan, who is the number one internet influencer, have stepped into the entertainment industry, invited to reality shows as a guest for a large sum, receiving fame and fortune.
However, there is one point to take note is that the value of IP is highly dependent on the creator themselves for their experiences and charisma, because only when the creator is qualified themselves, the solution provided is easier to accept while attracting more fans or even the general public to buy your products.
Causes Of Business Model Restrictions
Long-term content production
To stand out in the we-media industry, quality and valuable content is an necessity to attract audiences.
The two important factors in content is the level of relatability and acceptability of the content to produce loyalty from the fans.
Despite the everchanging factor about the we media industry, it’s easy to see that there remain consistent groups of audience to a specific media and content.
Thus, content creators should focus on specific group of audience and personalize content to their interest to achieve the level of attention from the audiences and produce the results you want. Da Yi Zhang who is a Taobao influencer selling fashion and accessories, the video production group “Ergeng” is focused on lifestyle, car related media is focused on car related services.
Secondly, to be able to provide consistent high-quality content, a professional production team is necessary. With a professional, organized and systematic team, it can help with post-production and also any business shifting to the we-media. For example, Papi-chan who have over 2 million followers is able to produce consistent quality content because of her production team behind the scenes.
Singular Profit Model
Although the we media industry have innovated different business models, but skillful commercial operation can only be found in small numbers of top we-media.
From the general perspective of we-media creators, the profit model is singular, monetizing content is the main and only profit model in the we media industry. As most platform opportunities and trafficking are occupied by the top content creators and influencers, a full-scale development has not begun.
Some of the top we media creator have found the mechanism to fans and e-commerce monetizing, faced with the obstacle for expansion, and meeting the demands. Especially after the entering of business investment into the industry, we media industry is experiencing a matthew effect, emphasizing the two extreme groups in the industry. Causing the difficulty in large scale development across the industry.
Between 2012 to nearly the end of 2015 is the golden age for we media creators to start. Even though the golden age for we media creators is in the past, with the regression numbers of views on official account articles, plagiarism to attain more views have become on of the ways to gain impressions.
According to “Wechat Official Account Click Farm Statistic Report 2017” by iiMedia, approximately 86.2% of the account manager reported click farming. In comparison to the statistic from last year, there has been a 5.6% increase, and only 21.4% of the data of the actual data is displayed.
Some we media creators have undergone dishonest strategies to monetize the content, along with the lack of protection for quality and original content have severely interrupted the business ecosystem of we media.
Along with the current changes to regulations and policies in China, Weibo, Wechat, Toutiao and Zhihu type of platforms have greater management and greater protection for creative contents. It is also expected for the we media industry to move from an disorganized industry to an systematic industry, where we media can grow on a greater note with the integrity of content creators, platform and assistance from governments for regulation and supervision.
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