When we think of social media platforms, we often think of Western-centric platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, did you know that in China, where access to Western social media apps is restricted, homegrown apps like XiaoHongShu (小红书) or “Little Red Book” have been created to satisfy the social media demand of over 1.3 billion people?

Recently, many Chinese social media apps like XiaoHongShu are transitioning from closed to open platforms. Even outside of China, many Chinese-speaking communities are active users of apps like XiaoHongShu (小红书). The “Little Red Book” app is even growing popular amongst global users looking to buy unique products or follow Chinese influencers and content creators.

Chinese-made social media apps are even growing in popularity amongst global users — TikTok, which goes by the name of Douyin in China is perhaps the most well-known example. The short video platform burst onto the international scene and quickly became the most popular social media app amongst Millennials and Gen-Z.

In this article, we’ll talk about XiaoHongShu (小红书), one of China’s most popular social media apps and why you should start paying attention to it.

What is XiaoHongShu

XiaoHongShu (小红书) is a Chinese social media and e-commerce platform where users can share lifestyle content, shopping experiences, reviews and recommendations using photos, videos, live streams and more. Content on XiaoHongShu (xiaohongshu) covers topics like cosmetics, beauty, fashion, food, travel, entertainment, fitness, childcare and beyond.

Described as China’s Instagram, XiaoHongShu (小红书) or “Little Red Book” is a social media and e-commerce platform. On XiaoHongShu, users can share lifestyle, shopping experiences and creative content using a variety of formats including photos, text, videos and livestreaming.

Content on XiaoHongShu can range from cosmetics and beauty to fashion, food, travel, entertainment, fitness, childcare and more. The platform’s social features also serve as a way for users to discover new brands. XiaoHongShu also includes an in-app shopping feature for users to browse, search and buy products.

History of XiaoHongShu

XiaoHongShu was founded in 2013 by Miranda Qu and Charlwin Mao as a shopping guide for Chinese consumers to research overseas brands and products before purchasing. However, the founders noticed users wanted to directly purchase the items they were researching on the xiaohongshu app.

To meet the demand, XiaoHongShu launched its e-commerce platform in 2014 and since then the brand has quickly grown to become a thriving social/e-commerce platform hybrid.

Popularity and User Demographics

XiaoHongShu ranks 5th among China’s most popular social media apps with over 200 million monthly active users.

Its user base is primarily young females in their 20s and 30s. Female and male users are split 88.8% and 11.2% respectively. Most of XiaoHongShu users come from first and second-tier cities in China, meaning they are generally middle to upper-class women with higher spending power. As a result of this gender skew, XiaoHongShu is immensely popular for its beauty and fashion content featuring luxury beauty brands like Dior and Chanel.

How to Download XiaoHongShu

To download the XiaoHongShu app on an iOS device:

  1. Open the App Store on your iOS device.
  2. Search for “XiaoHongShu” in the search bar.
  3. Locate the app and tap the “Get” button.
  4. Wait for the app to download and install on your device.
  5. Once installed, open the app and log in or sign up to use it.

To download the XiaoHongShu app on an Android device:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  2. Search for “XiaoHongShu” in the search bar.
  3. Locate the app and tap the “Install” button.
  4. Wait for the app to download and install on your device.
  5. Once installed, open the app and log in or sign up to use it.

How to Use XiaoHongShu: Social Features

Account Creation

When you first launch the XiaoHongShu app, you will be asked to create an account.

screenshot of Xiao Hong Shu start screen after launching the app

On the launch screen, you’ll see an option to create an account via the following methods.

  • WeChat
  • Phone Number

screenshot of Xiao Hong Shu interests selection during the account creation process

Follow the on-screen steps for your preferred method in order to create an account. Once you’ve selected your preferred account creation method, you’ll be asked to enter your gender, age and interests. This will determine the type of content that will be shown to you at the start.

screenshot of a user’s home feed on the XiaoHongShu app

Once your account has been created you will be taken to the XiaoHongShu homepage which is also your feed.

Navigating the Homepage

Now that you have your account set up, let’s start exploring the interface and discover what each of the buttons does.

screenshot of the “Follow”, “Explore” and “Nearby” functions on the XiaoHongShu app

On the topmost bar you have three options.

  1. Follow
    This section contains all the latest posts and content from the people you follow. If you do not follow anyone, then the app will suggest people for you to follow.
  2. Explore
    Explore is the main way to discover user-generated content on XiaoHongShu. This is your feed which shows you similar content based on the posts you’ve liked.
  3. Nearby
    This function allows you to search for posts, people and products based on your current location. It is typically used to discover popular local products or trending places to visit.


screenshot highlighting the categories bar on the XiaoHongShu app

Just below the topmost navigation bar are your category tabs. These enable you to curate your feed and discover content based on your preferences.

  1. For You
    This is your main feed. Content displayed here will be selected by the algorithm based on what you’ve liked or interacted with.
  2. Shop
    The shop tab takes you to the XiaoHongShu e-commerce platform.
  3. Live
    As the name implies, clicking this tab shows you content creators who are live streaming on the app.
  4. Interests
    The interests you’ve selected during the account creation process will be displayed as tabs here. Clicking a tab will adjust your feed to show content based on the interest you’ve selected.


screenshot highlighting the bottom navigation bar on the XiaoHongShu app

There are five more navigation buttons on the bottom bar. Let’s go through them and what they do.

  1. Home
    Tapping this takes you back to the homepage of the app.
  2. Video
    Takes you to the video section of the app. This lets you browse short videos similar to Instagram reels or TikTok.
  3. +
    Tapping the red “+” button takes you to the post creation interface.
  4. Messages
    Takes you to the direct messages interface where you can check your private messages or initiate a private message with other users. You can also see your likes, new followers and new comments on your posts.
  5. Me
    Takes you to your XiaoHongShu profile. Here you can edit how others view your profile as well as see your posts, collection and likes.


Creating a Post

To create and publish a post on XiaoHongShu:

  1. Tap the red “+” button at the bottom of the home screen.
  2. Select the type of post you would like to create.
    1. Shoot
      Take an image with your phone camera
    2. Video
      Take a video with your phone camera
    3. Album
      Select an image from your phone’s library
    4. Template
      Create a pre-designed post using XiaoHongShu picture or video templates
    5. Live
      Start a live stream.


screenshot of the post edit interface on the XiaoHongShu app

3. Edit your post. XiaoHongShu allows you to add music, text, stickers, filters and more.


screenshot of a user adding a title and description to a XiaoHongShu post

4. Write a title and description to your post. You can also add your location, hashtags or tag a user.
5. Publish your post by tapping on “Post”.

Interacting with Content

As a social media and e-commerce hybrid, user-generated content plays a huge role in setting Little Red Book apart from other e-commerce platforms. Content on Xiao Hong Shu typically revolves around users sharing detailed experiences or reviews about a particular place, product or service. This leads to strong word-of-mouth advertising and encourages online community building.


example of a typical post on the XiaoHongShu app

Images with a description is the most common format for a Xiao Hong Shu post. On the topmost bar, you can view a user’s profile by clicking on their image, follow them or share the post outside of the app. You can interact with a post in three ways using the buttons at the bottom of the screen.

  1. Heart icon
    “Like” the post. Similar to Instagram’s “Like” feature.
  2. Star icon
    “Collect” the post. This is a bookmark feature that saves the post which you can further organise as “boards” to access for future reference. This is the same concept as Pinterest boards.
  3. Message icon
    Comment on the post.

Using the Search Function

Users often use Xiao Hong Shu to research a specific product, brand or topic. The search function enables people to find posts, hashtags, related searches as well as user reviews of the subject they are searching for.


screenshot of the XiaoHongShu homepage with the search button highlighted in a green box

To start searching, simply click on the search button located on the homepage.


two screenshots side by side showing Xiao Hong Shu search page and search results

Clicking on the search icon on the homepage will bring up the search page. The search page shows trending searches as well as your recent searches.

Clicking on or entering a search term will bring up your search results along with hashtags related to the search topic.


How to Use XiaoHongShu: E-commerce Features

The social side of XiaoHongShu is heavily focused on user experiences, reviews and recommendations. As a result, the user-generated content on Little Red Book is generally regarded amongst its users to be more reliable compared to information from other sources.

To take advantage of this, the developers at XiaoHongShu decided to add e-commerce features to the app so you would be able to shop immediately if a product caught your eye while browsing other users’ posts, reviews or recommendations.

Note: XiaoHongShu e-commerce features are intended for domestic users within China. At the time of writing, users outside of China are unable to purchase products from within the app and may also be unable to view certain product pages.


screenshot of the main e-commerce page on the XiaoHongShu app

The main e-commerce page can be accessed by clicking on “Shop” from the homepage. This page displays the top brands as well as curated shop items based on your browsing behaviour.


screenshot of two shop pages on the XiaoHongShu app

Tapping on a brand takes you to its shop page where you can browse the catalogue and product listings. XiaoHongShu shops may be self-operated by the platform or by 3rd-party sellers.


multiple screenshots showing product pages on XiaoHongShu
Credit: Dragonsocial.net

One of the key benefits of XiaoHongShu is the ability to read detailed user reviews about a product without having to leave the app. This makes it convenient compared to shopping on other online e-commerce platforms, which often involves searching for independent third-party reviews due to unreliable user reviews on the product page.

Like other e-commerce platforms, XiaoHongShu offers discounts, coupons and flash sales for their products. There’s also a group-buying function that allows users to participate in mass group buys in order to save by purchasing in bundles. Customers have the option to add products to a cart or a wishlist, and can pay via Alipay or WeChat.


Learn How to Build and Advertise Your Brand on XiaoHongShu

We hope this article has been useful in providing you with a general overview XiaoHongShu and how to use its features.

As one of the fastest growing platforms not just within China, but amongst Chinese-speaking communities overseas — XiaoHongShu’s unique brand of social commerce is proving to be a hit amongst its Millenial and Gen Z users. In fact, it’s not uncommon for products endorsed by popular key opinion leaders on XiaoHongShu to be sold out immediately after a post!

Brands looking to capture the attention of Chinese-speaking Millenials and Gen Z communities would benefit greatly from learning how to promote themselves on XiaoHongShu. Social media marketers or managers can also take steps to futureproof their careers by familiarising themselves with the next big app.

Get hands-on experience with XiaoHongShu and learn from an industry expert who will teach you how to maximise your outreach efforts on Little Red Book. The XiaoHongShu course by FirstCom Academy is the fastest way for learners to go from zero knowledge to XiaoHongShu experts! Contact FirstCom Academy to register for the XiaoHongShu course 小红书课程.


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