60% of China’s recent graduates interested in career as influencer

According to survey results widely shared on Chinese social media on July 11, over 60% of young Chinese would consider a career as a wanghong (influencer), which in China is a broad term encompassing vloggers, livestreamers, and other online content creators.

The survey, which was conducted by the Weibo platform, asked 10,000 recent university graduates what factors they consider when choosing a career. 61.6% said they would consider a career in an emerging industry such as livestreaming, influencing, or other kinds of content creation, while 38.4% said this type of career was out of the question.

Multiple publications have highlighted that the vast majority of content creators make just 5000 RMB (695.40 USD) per month, far lower than the national average of 29,300 RMB (4,214 USD).

Many commentators remain skeptical about the long-term viability of a career in online stardom, but social media entertainment is increasingly becoming formalised as a career track.

As far back as 2017, Sixth Tone reported that Chongqing Institute of Engineering had launched a three-month course to train students in skills needed to become a professional livestreamer. In 2020, “livestream salesperson” became an official state-recognised career. Hundreds of universities in China now offer majors in  “broadcasting and hosting, and “internet and new media.

The rise and fall of star livestreamers like “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi over minor transgressions points to the fragile nature of internet success in China. But other content types are blossoming in China’s social media landscape.

Educational, psychological, or cultural content, for example, may not drive traffic quite on the level of fashion or beauty, but also do not demand the same standards of charm, attractiveness, or moral leadership from its creators. This means they also draw less government scrutiny. Former tutoring company New Oriental has adapted into a successful content creation business by selling agricultural products whilst introducing viewers to travel experiences, rising to become one of the main players in the industry.

Looking at examples like this, China’s Gen Zers may not simply be keen to make a quick buck by becoming famous overnight, but rather view social media as a long-term passion project that might reap financial rewards in the future.


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