[Guest Article] 16 Terms You Must Know if You’re Doing Marketing in China

What is Zombie Followers? What is Fresh Little meat? Learn more about the terms you must know if You’re Doing Marketing in China

by Lauren Hallanan from PARKLU

1. Daigou 代购 Overseas Purchasing

Daigou, which means "buying on behalf of”, is a channel of commerce in which an overseas person purchases commodities (mainly luxury goods, makeup, fashion, baby and health products) for a customer in mainland China. The large demand for daigou services is due to concern over unsafe and fake products, China's high import tariffs on luxury goods, and the desire to purchase brands and products that can’t be found in China.


With the rise of live-streaming ecommerce in China, daigou is becoming more sophisticated, with companies such as Shopshops creating upscale live-streamed personal shopping experiences.



2. Daren 达人 A Well-known Expert

An arbitrary term that is thrown around a lot on Chinese social media meaning a well-known expert in a particular field. Some common uses are fashion expert 时尚达人, travel expert 旅游达人, and shopping expert 购物达人. It is often used as a title in the bio section of someone’s profile. Whether or not they are really a daren might take some research to find out, but at least they seem to think they are.


3. Da V V

Originating on Weibo, this term “Big V” stands for verified account and is similar to having a blue checkmark on an Instagram account. The V let users know that this account is legitimate, has authority, and provides excellent content in a specific area of expertise.

What makes it confusing is that Weibo offers several types of verification that can be achieved in different ways. Corporate accounts have a blue V while personal accounts have orange Vs. There are three different ways to earn an orange V: area expertise, WeMedia, a unique position or job title.



In addition to these types of Vs, there is also a red and gold V, this signifies that someone is a big player with massive follower numbers and engagement.

Nowadays other social media platforms such as Meipai and many of the live streaming platforms have their own versions of the verification badge feature.



4. Fensitong 粉丝通 Fan Tunnel & Fensitoutiao 粉丝头条 Fan Headline (also known as Fanstop)

Fan Tunnel and Fan Headline are features of Weibo’s convoluted sponsored post system and are excellent ways to grow an account’s audience and reach. Using these two features you can promote your account or a specific post to reach your entire audience as well as potential followers.

Now why would you want to promote your post to your own followers? That’s because currently a regular Weibo post will appear in the news feed of only about 15% of an account’s followers. Many brands don’t realize that Weibo has become a pay to play platform and it is becoming increasingly harder to grow an audience using only organic methods. While it might cost a pretty penny, if you’re trying to grow a Weibo account Fan Tunnel and Fan Headline are your best friends.


5. Gonghui 公会 Agency

This term became very common with the rise of live streaming. These agencies will partner with the live streaming platforms to help them recruit, train and manage talent. It can be very beneficial for a live stream to join an agency as the agency will often help promote them on the platform and use some methods to make them more popular (see taolu for more information). The agency can also use some tax-aversion methods to help the streamer get a larger percentage of income from the virtual gifts they earn.

On the other hand, some agencies are shady and disorganized, often overpromising and under delivering. It is a tough choice for many liver streamers whether to sign with an agency or stay independent.



6. Gongzhonghao 微信公众号 WeChat Official Account (OA)

WeChat Official Accounts are the WeChat equivalent of a Facebook page: they are an interface a brand can use to gather followers, send them push notifications and redirect them to a website / e-commerce. One of the main features of an OA is the ability to publish articles which will be pushed to your audience. These articles are also easily shared in WeChat conversations and on Wechat moments, which helps an account gain more followers.

There are three different account types including subscription accounts, service accounts and corporate accounts. Brands will choose what type of account to open depending on the specific functions they require.


7. Jiangshi Fensi 僵尸粉丝 Zombie Followers

While in many other countries we call them fake followers, in China they refer to them as zombies. These are mass-produced social media accounts that mindlessly follow (hence the name "zombie") and artificially enhance another account's follower numbers — and thus their status.

Chinese social platforms are rampant with zombie accounts and it is important to examine an influencer’s numbers carefully to make sure your campaign will be reaching real people.

But as usual in China, it’s not that simple, while sometimes it is the influencer purchasing fake followers, likes and comments to boost their numbers, sometimes it is the platform doing it without the influencer’s control. Many of the big live streaming platforms are full of bots who inflate the viewer and comment numbers and make the app look like it’s more successful than it really is.


8. KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders

KOLs or key opinion leaders are experts in a particular field who have under their influence a large number of followers. In many Western countries we might refer to them as influencers, but in China and many Asian countries they’re commonly known as KOLs.

How the word might differ slightly from the concept of an influencer is that KOL typically refers to someone with an area of expertise. In China, an influencer who has become famous for their looks and personality, but seems to have no area of expertise, might instead be referred to as a wanghong or internet celebrity (see below.)

China’s KOLs are having a huge impact both online and offline (link to brick and mortar article)  No marketing strategy in China is complete without them.


9. Pengyouquan 朋友圈 Wechat Moments

A news feed-like feature on China’s premier mobile messaging app WeChat, Moments allows users to share updates with their “circle of friends,” the Chinese term WeChat uses to describe this feature. While a lot of talk is focused on WeChat Official Accounts, one of the most popular methods of WeChat advertising is to promote on WeChat moments. These ads are the equivalent of Facebook ads appearing on the timeline.


10. Taolu 套路 Tactics/ Black Hat Methods

Taolu is a very difficult word to translate directly into English as it an abstract term that encompasses many meanings depending on the context, but it a term that is used very frequently in Chinese social media marketing, especially in the live streaming industry.

For live streamers, the word refers to tactics or tricks that one used to persuade their audience to send them virtual gifts. For females, this can often be related to flirting. For example, an audience member sends a gift and the live streamer feigns that she didn’t see it. “Oh no, I’m so sad I didn’t see the gift. Could you send it again?” *wink wink*

Another very common tactic is to tell viewers that the user who sends the most gifts in this live streaming session will get to add the live streamer’s personal WeChat. This tactic works extremely well and users will often compete with each other to see who can stay in first place. 

The term taolu can also refer to some black hat methods used by agencies to inflate a live streamer’s earnings and platform ranking. For example agency staff will log onto fake accounts they have created and sent the live streamer gifts to make it appear that the live streamer is very popular.

It’s a good idea to be wary of numbers thrown around regarding live streaming app revenue and live streamer’s incomes.

11. Wanghong 网红 Internet Celebrity

One of the most popular new words in China, it means internet celebrity. The word became very popular in China with the emergence of Papi Jiang and the live streaming craze. What makes a wanghong different than a KOL is that a wanghong doesn’t necessarily need to have an area of expertise and oftentimes they have become famous for their looks, sense of humor, singing etc. That being said, wanghongs can still be very influential.

The word wanghong can have a negative connotation, meaning someone who is famous for no real reason and has no talent, they’re just a pretty face. Many feel that the content wanghong’s produce isn’t as professional as KOLS.

Note: The words KOL and wanghong are often used interchangeably, but these are the key differences.


12. Wanghonglian 网红脸 Internet Celebrity Face

In China, when watching female internet celebrities, it’s easy to feel like they all look the same. Don’t worry, you’re not being racist, they actually do look the same. What you’re seeing is a phenomenon known the “Wang Hong Face”, an idealized beauty standard that many Chinese girls feel they need to attain in order to be considered beautiful be others.

This term specifically refers to doe eyes, a high nose, white skin and very pointy chin. Of course on top of that there is also an expectation for them to be skinny, have a large chest, and long thin legs.

Over the past few years with the rise of the wanghong economy, an increasing number of women are going under the knife because they feel that if they are considered beautiful by societal standards then it will be easier for them to earn money.



13. Xiaoxianrou 小鲜肉 Fresh Little Meat/Fresh Little Muscles

This term was originally used to describe young, male celebrities such as the members of the Chinese male boy-band TF Boys, but it has exploded in popularity and is now used more generally to describe young cute, handsome, innocent males, of around 12 to 25 years old.

What does this have to do with social media marketing? While in the past Chinese internet celebrities were mainly pretty girls, but recently many young men have taken advantage of the “fresh little meat” trend and have grown massive and incredibly loyal followings on female dominated apps such as Meipai. If your target demographic is young women, then these boys just might be the key to your success.


14. Zhibo 直播 Live Streaming

We would be shocked if you haven’t heard of the insane popularity of mobile live streaming in China, but it was definitely something we couldn’t leave off this list. Although it had been around for a while, mobile live streaming really took off in early 2016 and has since cemented itself as an integral part of China’s social media ecosystem. 

Brands have embraced live streaming as a way to create more transparency, demonstrate their products, and create a closer relationship with their customers. With ecommerce functions integrated into many live streaming platforms, live streaming is becoming an incredible driver of sales and changing the ecommerce landscape in China.


15. Zhubo 主播 A Live Streamer

In China, live streaming has become so lucrative that there are people whose full time job is to be a live-streamer. Oftentimes these people focus solely on live streaming and don’t create other types of content or have much of a following on other platforms. Many of them grow their following by entertaining people through singing, dancing or comedy routines. Others merely chat with their audience. Throughout their live streaming they are using taolu or tactics (see above) to convince viewers to give them virtual gifts. These live streamers fall under the category of wanghong or internet celebrities.

As the live streaming industry has developed we can see other types of live streamers emerging, including Taobao live streamers who, instead of relying on gifts from their audience, use the medium of live streaming to sell products online.


16. Zimeiti 自媒体 WeMedia

The media landscape in China has seen radical change over the past couple of years, with print media giving way to digital. Nowadays, instead of relying on traditional media, many people get their information from self-published “WeMedia”. This term, in Chinese known as 自媒体 or “self media”, refers to content produced by those who operate outside of the traditional media framework. Oftentimes the people who create this content formerly worked as journalists or were members of the media industry, and have now harnessed the power of China’s digital platforms to create their own small media companies. Their content typically focuses on a niche topic.

They distribute their content across multiple platforms including WeChat, Sina Weibo, and the podcast website Ximalaya FM.




PARKLU is a digital platform pioneering how brands find, collaborate, and engage with China's social influencers.


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