I’m always on the lookout for creative ways that brands are collaborating with Chinese influencers. Over the past couple of months, I’ve seen two types of campaigns become increasingly prevalent, the first being brand-sponsored fan makeovers, and the second, awarding fans the opportunity to attend exclusive brand events as the influencer’s guest. I’ve even seen a combination of the two! (see Gogoboi’s recent campaign with Porsche below.)
These two tactics are excellent because they drive increased engagement not only with the KOL’s account, but also with the brand. One of the biggest difficulties KOLs face when creating sponsored content is to avoid coming across as too commercial or giving fans the feeling that they are pushing products on them.
By having fans to express their love of the brand or getting them involved in the creation of the sponsored content, it makes it two-directional and takes the focus off of the KOL. Fans who are chosen for a makeover or to attend an event don’t care the content is sponsored — they’re simply excited to be chosen for what they might perceive to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
To demonstrate just how popular these types of campaigns have become, here’s how 5 well-known fashion KOLs have taken on this trend in just the last month and a half:
OtherFashion — Before and After FILA Makeovers
Before and after makeovers are always popular, and the fashion and beauty influencer Xiao Huanggua 小黄瓜 (@OtherFashion) takes advantage of that, recruiting her fans to be her makeover candidates.
Last week Xiao Huanggua published a post where she visited FILA stores in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu and did FILA-style makeovers on over ten fans. Some of the makeovers were jaw-dropping, and of course, the campaign created a positive connotation linking looking better with wearing FILA.
Gogoboi — Makeover + VIP Guest at a Porsche Event
Top fashion influencer Gogoboi likes to hold contests for his fans to become his guests at exclusive brand events. Recently he selected two followers to join him for a Porche event. Prior to the event their outfits and makeup were styled by Gogoboi’s team. They then rode to the event in a Porsche driven by Gogoboi. When they arrived, they got to do the first photoshoot of the night with the cars. As Gogoboi’s VIP guests, they got better treatment than many mid-tier influencers did! Influencers inviting fans to participate in offline events is nothing new, but unlike a fan meet and greet, this was much more intimate and an incredible experience that any fan of Gogoboi would love to have.
Ximendasao — Before and After Makeovers: Dorm Room Edition
At the beginning of the fall semester, WeChat fashion and lifestyle KOL Ximendasao (西门大嫂) selected one of her followers to receive a dorm room makeover. The article taught students step by step how to improve the look of their dorm room with only 500 RMB (approximately $71), a topic that is extremely relatable and useful for a large portion of her audience. While they didn’t feature the student in the article, they shared images of her dorm room.
What was interesting about this campaign was that, instead of holding an open call for participants, Ximendasao chose one of her fans from one of her private WeChat groups. At the beginning of the article featuring the makeover, she lets other followers know that if they hope to be selected for similar activities in the future, they had better join one of her groups. Creating private WeChat groups of super fans is a common tactic currently used by influencers and brands and is part of the trend known as “private traffic”.
Anny Fan — Louis Vuitton Twist and Cruise Event
On October 22, the popular fashion KOL Anny Fan sent a message out to her WeChat followers announcing the opportunity to be her guest at private fan event at a LV store in Shanghai. Those chosen will get to visit the store with Fan to see LV’s latest Twist and Cruise collections and have a photo shoot with a professional photographer. To enter the contest, fans had to send their names, contact details, a picture of themselves, and a picture of all the Louis Vuitton products they own. Fan says, “Show me your love of shopping!”
Shenye Xu Laoshi — Fan Makeover Live Stream with Adidas
And just days ago, the popular fashion and beauty influencer Shenye Xu Laoshi announced her upcoming fan makeover in collaboration with Adidas. Unlike the other campaigns mentioned here, this makeover was live streamed on Weibo’s Yizhibo platform, so fans could tune in to watch the makeovers taking place in real time.
Inviting followers to participate in makeovers and exclusive events has become such a popular strategy because it reduces the distance between the influencer and his or her fans and makes him or her appear more approachable. This is particularly important for top tier influencers whose engagement rates tend to drop the larger they become. What’s more, fans who are chosen for these campaigns will heavily share their experience on their own social media accounts, further promoting the influencer and the brand.