Effective Brand Marketing on Xiaohongshu

Effective Brand Marketing on Xiaohongshu? Three Areas to Ponder

Social media marketing has become a focal point for many brands looking to promote themselves and Xiaohongshu; a social media platform with a female user ratio of over 80% has quickly become fertile ground for brands looking to plant their seed.

More and more brands have found success via the platform. For example, a Made-in-China skin care brand HomeFacialPro (HFP) founded in 2016 annual revenue scaled quickly to over $1 billion Renminbi (~$145 million USD) in 2019. A big part of their marketing strategy involved using KOL marketing. From 2016 to 2018, HFP partnered with over 1,400 accounts, to post over 6,000 sponsored content posts with estimated spending of $100 million Renminbi on brand marketing campaigns.

The ability of Xiaohongshu to drive traffic to brand websites acknowledged but how does a brand do this effectively on the platform to guarantee traffic. Moreover, in the end of 2019, the platform’s algorithm rules and review system have become more stringent, and if accounts are not careful could easily be blocked for violating TOS. At the end of the day, this can be attributed to errors when using the platform to promote.

   1) Common Marketing Potholes

    Xiaohongshu’s Notes Ranking

Note ranking is extremely important and the most common way to drive traffic to content. Xiaohongshu’s note ranking comes from number of active searches for relevant keywords. Many have tried to game the system and use different methods to increase ranking. Tons of companies online even offer packages specifically tailored to increase rankings. It should only become a matter of time before the platform clamps on this fraudulent behavior. Just because everyone is doing it does not mean you should. For the long term sake of your brand, managers of pages should take care not to participate in any activity which may violate terms of service and in the worst case scenario receive a permanent ban of your brand’s account.

    No data to back up Recommendations

Brand managers have many platforms to watch and sometimes this become extremely time consuming. Many may simply take recommended lists of KOL accounts at face value without really digging into the data to see whether the basic statistics provided by platform of these accounts is legitimate.

With a profit mindset, the platform will no doubt push in-house influencers that have a contract with the company to the top of these lists. Whether these influencers actually match the needs of brand managers is a roll of the dice. Poor match between influencers and brand wastes time, effort, and a lot of advertising budget while also missing the best timeframe when the advertising campaign could have provided the most return on investment (ROI). This quickly becomes a situation where both brands and consumers lose out.

    Driving Traffic via Subtle Links

Many brand managers want to increase conversion rates so think of all sort of ways to put links on posts to their Tmall/Taobao store page, WeChat official accounts, or just direct message ways to purchase items. These have also become areas where Xiaohongshu platform is seemingly targeting and some accounts have received banned for this type of behavior. Brand managers running pages on Xiaohongshu should take heed and be careful.

   2) Understanding Xiaohongshu’s Flow of Traffic

Looking for effective Xiaohongshu marketing? First, let’s understand the flow of traffic and see how users will find your content for you to achieve sales.

There are two main areas of focus: content tag matching and social relationship recommendations.

After a note is posted publicly, the Xiaohongshu system automatically tags the post and tries to push these posts to users that have expressed interest in the tags. For example, if you frequently look at content regarding skin care, the platform will recommend more notes about skin care to you.

Once the note is pushed to users, based on user actions, the note will receive a community engagement score (CES) to determine whether it should push this post to other users.

CES = Likes x 1 point + Bookmarks x 1 point + Comments x 4 points + Following x 8 points

A high scoring CES inherently reflects the quality of the post. It obtains more hits on organic searchers within Xiaohongshu, Baidu searches, and a high quality post can continue to generate many likes/comments for many years since original posting date.

Aside from a high scoring CES, the more fans an account has obviously translates to more eyeballs looking at your content that in turn reaches into their social network.

   3) Tips on creating quality content

From the flow of traffic we can see effective marketing strategies is based on creating high quality content.

Choosing the right brand ambassadors, KOL, and influencers. High quality content creators is obviously whom you want to partner with. As opposed to simply looking at how many followers a creator has it’s more important to look at the quality of content including professionally written text captions, photos and images that stand out, and how well the content creator engages with their followers.

Different brand ambassadors, KOLs, influencers, have their own following which differs by sex, occupation, spending power, and products they are interested in.

Figure out your brand values and have this reflected in all your collaborations. Work with different brand ambassadors across the platform

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