Peer-to-peer community experience sharing platform RED (also known as Little RED Book or 小红书) was once better known for its largely female user base that exchanged tips and reviews on beauty and fashion trends discovered abroad. Today, RED has since evolved into a social platform that focuses on reviews and sharing of products, services and general lifestyle, attracting a wider range of brands and consumers alike. As such, brands are integrating and leveraging RED to connect with consumers both at the top of the funnel to drive awareness and interest as well as generate consumer advocacy at the bottom of the funnel – which also feeds its purpose of driving awareness, creating a synergistic loop.
On RED, brands take an owned, earned and paid media approach. What makes the platform unique is the aforementioned peer content, which challenges typical brand marketing practices and changes the game when it comes to how brands activate owned, earned and paid media on this platform.
As an inherently peer-driven platform, brands work with the community in earned and paid capacities. Locally referred to as Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs), KOCs create content using real consumer language that generates real conversations among peers. They share personal experiences with brands and products from a consumer’s perspective, including details about what they liked and didn’t like, resulting in content that feels far more authentic than polished brand communications. Pictures speak a thousand words and KOCs also share visuals from their daily life, whether at a café or a park, rather than the less relatable images from a runway or red carpet. The effectiveness of this content is due to its relatability – other users that come across such content would consider it as something they can see themselves saying or thinking too.
Content from KOCs supports the funnel both from the top and bottom. While it drives discovery and interest at the top of the funnel as consumers seek out the latest brands and products to pick up, it also serves to reassure purchase decisions at the bottom of the funnel – who better to affirm your decision than someone that lives like you do, or an aspirational celebrity?
Furthermore, when it comes to brand content, typical brand guidelines for edited and polished brand visuals and editorial should not be applied on RED. Keeping in mind the relatability factor and the content users post and seek out on the platform, a brand’s own channel should also reflect the same raw and organic aesthetics and language.
At the same time, brands should make space on their RED editorial calendar to showcase content coming from the community. This is one platform where the importance of the peer community calls for more robust and active community management practices from brands. Besides actively interacting with its audience in an authentic way, brands can also identify brand advocates and those publishing great content to ask for reposting rights on the brand’s owned channel. Across the platform, brand community managers should identify and connect with relevant KOCs to encourage and incentivise more organic engagements and user-generated content as well.
Unlike other social applications in China, content on RED has a far longer lifespan due to its feed algorithm that displays content based on user interactions instead of in chronological order. As such, brands should not approach content on this platform with expectations for instantaneous engagement. It is quite the opposite. Engagement will take time as content will only get exposure over time – unlike on platforms like Weibo and WeChat where content exposure peaks within the day and then plateaus. As the platform also serves as a search engine, users may engage with a piece of RED content long after it is published as well. Brands looking to leverage RED to activate a particular brand milestone or local festival should think about a longer runway, releasing content or teasers with ample time ahead, allowing engagement to build and pick up before the actual event.
The unique role RED plays at the start and end of a consumer’s journey to purchase means that brands can no longer rely just on a selection of voices on the platform to be effective. Instead, brands should be working with a wide range of collaborators to capture a larger share of voice. An increase in brand mentions (share of voice) also often sees an increase in traffic for the brand on marketplaces like Tmall, where purchases are taking place more readily. With the longer lifespan of content on the platform, the invested efforts on RED through the different voices (brand, community, KOCs, KOLs, celebrities) should be taken with a longer view in mind, with both a quantitative and qualitative consideration.
Watch the DLG Webinar Series #11: The RED Social Playbook in the video below to learn more about the foundations of activating on the platform. Looking for more on RED? Join us for the next session in the DLG Webinar Series to out how brands are performing with the first and official release of the RED Luxury Index by DLG (Digital Luxury Group) and NEWRANK.