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Digital Technology Promoters Take the Small Screen by Storm
en.hangzhou.com.cn  2019/12/05 15:10  Global Times

"Five, four, three, two, one. Today I would like to introduce...," goes the familiar catchphrase used by many live-streaming hosts. As one of them, Zhu Cancan knows this routine well.

Zhu, 24, a lively girl from Bozhou, a small city in East China's Anhui Province, graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy. In her nearly four years as a live-streaming host, she has attracted around 2 million fans and lucrative advertising contracts by filming digital technology products such as watches and mobile phones.

"Many people think girls working in this industry love to play," Zhu said with slight dismay in her tone. "People think you replace your boyfriends frequently... Actually it's not what people think."

Zhu is very lucky that her parents support and understand her career as a live-streaming host. "In this industry, I'm not that young anymore. They call me 'Sister Cancan.'"

From zero to 2 million 

In a simply decorated three-floor villa rented by Zhu's company in the Baoshan district of Shanghai, boxes filled with earphones and cosmetics are scattered on the floor. The villa houses employees like Zhu who lives in a 20-square-meter room with her own bathroom.

In 2018, she earned more than 1 million yuan ($142,156) as a live-streaming host. 

"I'm not a star," Zhu said with a smile. Her company has signed contracts with more than 100 young people like her. "I'm not the prettiest one. I'm not the tallest one. But I'm the one who work the hardest," Zhu said. "Many of them gave up halfway."

As a freshman, she signed a contract with a company with media cooperation and branding resources to help her promote her image. Zhu admits that it's essential to have a team. 

On Double 11, a global shopping gala initiated by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, "I worked till 4 am that day," Zhu noted. "But it's not the busiest day; I can't sleep in 48 hours as I have to work out a marketing plan for my customers."

She has gotten in the habit of sleeping late. "I'm used to it," Zhu noted.

Besides Li Jiaqi and Wei Ya, two top-selling Taobao live-streaming hosts, there are many hosts like them working hard every day, but their lives are not known to the public, Zhu said. They produce content on many social media platforms such as Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou.

Zhu struggled to gain a following at first. She didn't have encouragement from fans, but her father became her most supportive follower. "I even lost money in the first two months," Zhu noted, "I was blamed by my boss because I didn't do well in a live-streaming, I cried and felt anxiety."

Gradually, she found her niche as a specialist in the digital technology. "Hold on - one day, you will succeed," Zhu emphasized.

Zhu was digitally illiterate, but she knew she has to work harder to remember all the digital terms and help her audience understand. 

She has to stay enthused to attract audiences. After a five-hour live-streaming, "I only want to keep silent," Zhu giggled. 

With 2 million followers, the pressure is always on. "I will feel guilty if the product is not as good as it is in the advertising."

Take a shot

Fengfeng, 20, a college student from Central China's Hunan Province majoring in costume designing, worked as a Taobao live-streaming host for two months in Shanghai. He earned 5,000 yuan monthly.

Fengfeng didn't tell his parents about the job. He is afraid that his parents would not understand him. "They are very traditional," Fengfeng said, noting that his parents would prefer him to work in a traditional industry.

Fengfeng rents an 8-square-meter room in an old residential community in the Putuo district of Shanghai. He randomly rushed into the industry, but has not regretted it. 

He once made continuous live-streaming content alone from 11 am to 6 pm without eating and drinking water. "I was exhausted," Fengfeng recalled, but he understands that he should pay his dues in his initial stage. "I missed my family especially when I felt lonely."

Hu Huijing, a 21-year-old from East China's Jiangsu Province, majoring in advertisements, said her parents didn't understand her job at first. Hu only worked as a host for about a month.

"I personally am interested in this industry, so I take a shot," Hu noted. 

For those young people in their initial stage, "they will be glad to earn thousands of yuan via a single program," Liu Yalei, CEO of Weimedia told the Global Times. Weimedia has recruited more than 100 young hosts.

The scale of users of online live streaming in China is expected to exceed 500 million this year, and by 2020, the number may rise to 524 million, according to an industrial report released by iiMedia. According to the report, 40 percent of the respondents occasionally choose to buy products recommended by star or online e-commerce live streaming. 

The booming industry is exemplified by Hangzhou-based Ruhnn Holding, a Chinese start-up bridging KOLs (key opinion leaders) with brands to drive online sales, which announced its IPO on the NASDAQ board in April.

Liu believes that the booming industry leads young people to frequently switch jobs. In order to keep top talents, like Zhu, with a proportion of 10 percent in Liu's company, the hosts "will earn more than their companies," Liu noted.

By advertising products when broadcasting, live-streaming hosts and their companies could share profits with the merchants while brands see revenue increases. "It's a win-win-win," Liu said.

Author: Editor:Wang Yueyun
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