E-commerce and social networking platform Little Red Book, also known as Xiaohongshu, has taken a step towards encouraging partnerships between company brands and key opinion leaders (KOLs).

The app recently opened a platform for verified brands and KOLs to search for and find each other, 36kr reports (in Chinese). The platform also incorporates multi-channel networks (MCNs), which contact influential content creators on behalf of brands in order to increase popularity across multiple platforms.

Companies and MCNs can now find influencers by searching content tags and view statistics such as a content creators’ fan count, number of likes, average hits over the past 30 days, and average number of comments per post.

Little Red Book, which is best known for its fashion and cosmetics reviews, has around 8,000 verified brands and 4,800 influencers. A user needs to have 1,000 fans to apply to become a “brand partner.”

Currently, the company isn’t taking a cut from business partnerships. Part of the reason is practical: the app doesn’t have a system to buy and pay for commissions yet. However, in addition to optional ad campaigns, brands must pay to host their stores on the app.

Last summer Bytedance-owned short video platform Douyin began signing on MCNs, which it formerly viewed as detractors to its business, in order to manage its network of online influencers. The move enabled the company to focus more on generating advertising revenue and less on managing KOLs.

Little Red Book still faces the challenge of converting fans into paying customers. To boost its revenue, the 100 million-strong app launched a brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai last June. In September, the platform stopped companies from inserting links that encouraged users to visit other e-commerce platforms in a bid to keep shoppers on its app.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa. More by Bailey Hu

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