Described as China’s Instagram, XiaoHongShu (小红书) or “Little Red Book” is a social media and e-commerce platform where users can share lifestyle, shopping experiences and creative content using a variety of formats including photos, text, videos and live streaming.
XiaoHongShu has quickly risen in popularity and developed a reputation as an authentic and trustworthy platform. As a result, XiaoHongShu users are more likely to purchase a product or service compared to other social media platforms. With such highly motivated consumers, XiaoHongShu advertising can be a powerful driver of sales if you can get it right.
In this XiaoHongShu advertising guide, we’ll cover why you should advertise on XiaoHongShu, the different types of ads on the platform, and best practices you should follow to ensure you succeed.
Why Advertise on XiaoHongShu?
Chinese consumers are a discerning group who place great emphasis on a brand’s image. The average Chinese consumer does a thorough amount of product research before they purchase, considering factors like brand reputation and word-of-mouth recommendations from peers.
Credit: We Are Social
In fact, We Are Social’s State of Digital Report for China shows that word-of-mouth is the primary way Chinese consumers discover new brands, handily beating out other platforms like search engines or brand websites.
Chinese consumers are also increasingly turning to social media for product reviews, tending not to trust ads, search results and reviews on e-commerce websites as they have been known to be faked. As a result of all of these factors, XiaoHongShu has become a trustworthy online community for many Chinese consumers to give and receive purchasing advice.
Understanding Consumers on XiaoHongShu
In this section, we’ll look at the user demographics of XiaoHongShu and the average consumer cycle on the platform. By doing so, we can get a better understanding of who we’re advertising to and how to best capture their attention.
XiaoHongShu User Demographics
Credit: CBN Data
According to a report by CBN Data, the key XiaoHongShu’s demographics are as follows:
- 88.80% female users, 11.20% male users
- 46.39% users aged 18 – 24
- 36.08% users aged 25 – 34
- Majority of users concentrated in first-tier cities like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai
Based on these results, we can infer that the typical user on XiaoHongShu is either a Millennial or Gen Z, lives in one of China’s metropolitan cities, and is well-educated with medium to high purchasing power.
XiaoHongShu User Trends
Here are some interesting user trends* on XiaoHongShu to take note of:
- 69% of XiaoHongShu users open the app to look for trendy products and seek out purchasing decisions
- 81% of XiaoHongShu users are willing to buy a product after viewing content
- XiaoHongShu users spend an average of 4100 RMB on the platform each month
- The most popular shopping categories on XiaoHongShu are clothing, skincare and cosmetics
*Source: WalktheChat Webinar
XiaoHongShu Consumer Cycle
The consumer cycle within XiaoHongShu can be best described as “Read, Like, then Buy”. The platform’s social commerce closed-loop system is efficient at converting online traffic into sales as users are able to purchase products immediately upon seeing them in social media posts.
The typical consumer cycle within XiaoHongShu is as follows:
- User reads a shopping note from another user.
- User is convinced to make a purchase.
- User shares his/her experience in comments with others, may publish their shopping note detailing their review or experience with the product.
- Other users read the comments or shopping notes and decide to make a purchase.
Instead of relying on search engines and multiple websites to do product research, XiaoHongShu users can do it all within the app — greatly reducing the time it takes to research a product and lowering barriers to purchase.
This focus on sharing experiences and word-of-mouth recommendations is the core of XiaoHongShu advertising and what the platform is built on.
Types of Advertising on XiaoHongShu
In this section, we’ll cover the different forms of XiaoHongShu advertising and how you can get the most out of each of them.
Prerequisites of XiaoHongShu Advertising
You need an approved brand account to access XiaoHongShu’s advertising functions. Read our Guide on How to Sell on XiaoHongShu to learn how to create a brand account. You’ll also need to create an online store if you want to convert advertising traffic into sales.
Key Opinion Leaders
Influencer marketing is a big part of social media platforms, and XiaoHongShu is no different. In fact, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) on XiaoHongShu have arguably even more influence than their western counterparts due to the platform’s focus on word-of-mouth marketing.
Rules for Sponsored Posts
XiaoHongShu also has strict rules in place for sponsored posts to ensure that the platform maintains its reputation for genuine reviews and a truthful community. Both brands and KOLs are required to follow these rules or risk having their posts removed or accounts suspended.
These are the rules you need to be aware of before engaging KOLs. However, take note that these rules can be subject to change at any time — make sure you read the Community Guidelines section on XiaoHongShu’s Creator page for updates.
- Only verified brand accounts can engage a KOL to do promotional activities.
- Celebrities and KOLs with more than 5,000 followers must register sponsored posts with XiaoHongShu
- Sponsored posts must be stated and the KOL is required to tag the brand’s official account.
- If the KOL has received a product for free, they must declare it by using a designated hashtag.
Finally, sponsored posts must be registered with XiaoHongShu or you will not receive campaign performance data.
Types of KOLs on XiaoHongShu
XiaoHongShu KOLs are grouped according to the number of followers they have. The cost of collaboration can vary depending on the type of KOL you wish to work with.
These are the types of KOLs on XiaoHongShu and their rates according to CHINAble Academy.
|KOL Tier||No. of Followers||Characteristics||Average Cost|
KOLs with a huge follower base that can get you lots of exposure in a short period of time.
|30,000 – 100,000 RMB|
|Mid-tier||>100k||Mid to long-term impact.
Working with a group of mid-tier KOLs is excellent for spreading your brand across the platform to improve SEO and grow word-of-mouth.
|Micro||10 – 100k||Work with a large group of micro and long-tail KOLs when you are new to the platform to increase the quantity of posts related to your brand.
XiaoHongShu’s algorithm regularly promotes KOLs with less than 5,000 followers.
Data reported by CHINAble Academy.
XiaoHongShu provides an official KOL platform called Pugongying where brands can find KOLs to work with. This makes it so you don’t have to scour the app to find KOLs for XiaoHongShu advertising.
Best Practices for Identifying KOLs
With so many KOLs available, how do you know which to choose? Let’s go through some of the best practices when it comes to identifying and working with KOLs on XiaoHongShu.
Look through your KOL’s posts to ensure their content is genuine and focused on building authentic connections with their audience. XiaoHongShu users prefer soft-selling, so avoid KOLs that tend to be too salesy or promotional.
Active Comment Section
Does your KOL’s audience react to their posts? Having users that take the time to respond to posts indicate an active and dedicated fanbase. At the same time, see if the KOL is actively responding to his/her audience posts. This will help you gauge their ability to be a brand ambassador.
High Engagement Ratio
Like other social media platforms, brands have to watch out for fake followers. Ensure the KOL you select doesn’t have a low engagement-to-follower ratio. KOLs with over 50% of active followers are a great benchmark to aim for. Do note that it is not uncommon for small influencers to have uneven engagement across multiple posts.
Strong Follower Growth
XiaoHongShu’s influencer platform Pugongying provides brands with data on a KOL’s follower growth over a set period of time. Use this to your advantage by identifying micro KOLs with a history of strong follower growth. This can help you boost campaign performance by leveraging their upward trajectory.
Does the KOL you identify have the same audience demographics as your brand? Use Pugongying to see the demographics of the KOL’s followers and see if they align with yours. This will increase the chances of their audience reacting positively to your brand.
The Seeding Process
After you’ve identified the KOLs you want to work with, most brands begin what is known as the “seeding process”. Similar to “content seeding” on Instagram, in XiaoHongShu advertising terms this means gifting products to as many of your selected KOLs as possible in order to build strong relationships with your KOLs.
Seeding can benefit your brand in multiple ways:
- It increases audience exposure and touchpoints with your brand
- It allows you to measure the engagement and impact a KOL has with his/her audience before you embark on a paid campaign
- Sending multiple products to KOLs can be a form of market survey to determine your most popular product.
During the seeding process, KOLs will add a hashtag to their posts to let their audience know that they have received the product for free. However, seeding posts will not include a sales link to purchase the product. As a result, most brands will engage with the KOL’s seeding post to ensure some form of tangible sales or marketing benefit to the brand. If the results of the seeding post are positive, then the brand may choose to engage the KOL to collaborate on a paid campaign.
Traditional Advertisements on XiaoHongShu
Although XiaoHongShu’s primary focus is on user-generated content and user-led promotions, the platform also has a traditional advertising model where brands pay to have picture or video ads displayed on user feeds.
In this section, we’ll cover some of the rules you need to know about XiaoHongShu advertising, and what types of ad formats are available.
Advertising Rules on XiaoHongShu
XiaoHongShu advertising contains strict guidelines for brands to follow. Content must be reliable and truthful, which means companies must not use languages like “the best” or “number 1” — any claims you make must be verifiable. Additionally, brands must not mislead customers with false promises or clickbait titles.
Ad Formats on XiaoHongShu
Pop-up ads appear whenever a user opens the app. The ad will proceed to play while giving users the option to click into a store or landing page.
- Ad format: 5 second fullscreen video.
- Pricing model: Cost-per-time. Frequency of 3 times per day.
- When is it used: Product launches, brand event launches.
Top Banner Ads
Top banner ads appear on the first page on top of a user’s search results. They work similarly to Google’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads. They can be made to direct traffic to anything from an official account page to a campaign page, store page or product page.
- Ad format: Static display banner on top of search results
- Pricing model: Cost-per-month.
- When is it used: Boost traffic and conversion for specific keywords.
Search and In-feed Ads
Search and in-feed ads are both native ads designed to look like a regular result on a user’s feed. The difference lies in how they can be discovered.
- Ad format: Appears on a user’s feed and resembles a XiaoHongShu post.
- Pricing model:
Cost-per-month and cost-per-click bidding (In-feed ads).
Bidding for keywords (Search ads).
- When is it used:
To get more brand impressions by posting high-quality content by KOLs (In-feed ads).
To capture traffic and reach out to potential customers searching for your targeted keywords (Search ads).
Ad Targeting on XiaoHongShu
XiaoHongShu advertising gives brands multiple ways to get their ads seen by their target demographic. There are 3 ways brands can use to target their audience precisely.
Brands can segment audiences by data such as location, gender, age or even their mobile operating system.
Interests and Behaviour
Brands can segment audiences using XiaoHongShu categories such as Fashion, Jewellery, Home Decoration, Consumer Electronics etc.
Brands can target audiences searching for specific keywords to produce relevant ads. XiaoHongShu offers up to 1,000 keywords.
Best Practices for Advertising on XiaoHongShu
If you want to succeed at advertising on XiaoHongShu, you must adapt to the platform’s culture. Follow these best practices to increase your chances of successful ads and avoid any issues with XiaoHongShu’s moderation team.
Focus on Sharing not Selling
XiaoHongShu users prefer educational, informative and useful content. They visit the app to get peer recommendations and discover new products without being overwhelmed by ads.
If your ads are overly promotional, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Users will end up ignoring your ad or worse — have it reviewed and removed by XiaoHongShu. A soft-selling approach beats out hard-selling on XiaoHongShu.
Optimise Both Image and Text
Unlike other social media platforms where visuals may play a more important role than text, you must optimise both if you want to be successful at XiaoHongShu advertising. Remember that XiaoHongShu functions like a product search engine, so you want to ensure you have the proper keywords in your post title and text to ensure you show up on results.
That said, users are not going to click into your posts or ads if your images aren’t attractive either — so make sure they are clear and contain specific tags such as the brand or price.
Keep Your Posts Objective, Friendly and Conversational
Nothing turns XiaoHongShu users off more than pure advertorial content. When writing a copy in Chinese try to have a native speaker vet your content to ensure it doesn’t appear overly formal or promotional.
If your posts are talking about a particular product, make sure it is as objective as possible. XiaoHongShu users want to know about a product’s pros and cons. Presenting only the positives can make it seem like you are trying too hard and come across as being dishonest.
Have a Long-term, Relationship Building Perspective
While there is a place for short, promotional campaigns — brands are more likely to find advertising success on XiaoHongShu if they adopt a long-term, relationship-building perspective with their audience. This means continuously growing your brand awareness and community by actively engaging followers, consistently working with KOLs to spread word-of-mouth awareness and adopting a soft-sell approach to sales.
Is XiaoHongShu Advertising Right for Your Business?
As one of the fastest growing platforms not just within China, but amongst Chinese-speaking communities overseas — XiaoHongShu’s unique blend of social media and e-commerce is a hit amongst its Millenial and Gen Z users.
In a world where consumers are constantly overwhelmed by ads every day, XiaoHongShu’s focus on user-generated reviews, opinions and interactions is a breath of fresh air. Brands looking to capture a slice of the Chinese-speaking Millenials and Gen Z market would benefit greatly from advertising on XiaoHongShu.
However, what if you’re not selling in China? Can a Singaporean business still benefit from advertising on XiaoHongShu even if they’re not able to take advantage of the platform’s e-commerce features? We say yes!
A quick look at the XiaoHongShu app shows hundreds of posts by Chinese consumers living in Singapore. If your brand’s target audience is Chinese speaking, XiaoHongShu can still be an excellent platform to build word-of-mouth brand awareness.
- 7 Best Free and Paid XiaoHongShu Courses and Certifications
- 8 Tips and Tricks to Sell on XiaoHongShu 小红书 (Little Red Book)
- XiaoHongShu Marketing: Guide on Little Red Book eCommerce
- Guide on How to Sell on XiaoHongShu in Singapore
- What is XiaoHongShu 小红书 and How to Use It