Until last year, Zhang “BB” Xi was just another 20-something with a dream of making it big. The 23-year-old from the sprawling city of Chongqing had around 300,000 fans across all her social media platforms who watched her beauty tutorials and vlogs. It was a large number, given her youth, but she hadn’t yet been able to make major inroads into the cut-throat influencer industry.
But her success had set off an alert among the team of talent scouts at Ruhnn Holding, one of China’s largest key opinion leader (KOL) – or influencer – management companies.
The scouts scour social media to identify amateurs with more than 5,000 fans who may have the skills to make it big, says Mac Zhou, vice-president of Ruhnn: each month, the company might look at more than 800 people. Among them, last year, was BB.