Is Xiaohongshu Abandoning KOC?

Communication Author: Ruizhi Cheng Editor: Luke Sheehan Oct 28, 2020 04:10 PM (GMT+8)

Xiaohongshu, an e-commerce and social media platform, may need to rethink whether its Woodpecker Program is a plausible business strategy, after it annoyed many bloggers active on the site.

A blogger is sharing something with pictures. Image credit: Pexels

Last Saturday, Chinese bloggers were complaining that Xiaohongshu had mistakenly deleted their posts and warned them of posting false information. This is connected to Xiaohongshu's initiative called the 'Woodpecker Program,' which was designed for erasing misleading content on the platform, particularly paid-for promotions masquerading as individual reviews or articles. Conflicts between bloggers and Xiaohongshu have been simmering for a long time. By promoting short videos and applying for the Woodpecker Program, a great many bloggers who focus on graphics and prose content feel that they are being abandoned by Xiaohongshu.

The Woodpecker Program was prompted by the cooperation between KOC (key opinion consumers) and brands or MCN (multiple channel networks), which had resulted in two problems. One was that false promotion increased, and the platform became more and more commercialized. Another is that, in the process of commercial promotion, Xiaohongshu didn’t earn profits. Thus, Xiaohongshu decided to propose the Woodpecker Program to fight against the excesses of MCN and brands. However, it also hurt some hardworking bloggers accidentally.

The disadvantage behind this program is that Xiaohongshu may damage the success it has had based on the KOC business model since it is really hard to tell whether a commercial promotion is based on false or paid-for content. Therefore, the approach has increased bloggers’ anxiety.

The Woodpecker Program is a good sign, insofar as it shows that Xiaohongshu is trying to find a balance between the 'sincere' personal content on the platform and commercialization. But Xiaohongshu needs to consider whether developing short videos will help the business or not, since the short videos market has been divided by other tech giants.