As part of the course, Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College (YWICC) near Shanghai has classes like "Makeup modeling," "Fashion and aesthetic ability," and "Public relations etiquette, cultural literacy." Students who complete three years get the equivalent of an associate's degree (and millions of likes, of course).
While it may sound unconventional, it's a logical choice for students who may have majored in marketing, PR, or business just a few years ago. Plus, in a country where wang hong — big-deal internet celebrities — can make tens of millions of pounds, a course like this could be a very worthwhile investment in a student's future.
“I like dressing myself up really pretty and take pictures. I feel like this major really suits me,” 21-year-old Jiang Mengna, one of the students in the course, told AFP. She's one of 33 students, mostly women, majoring in Modeling and Etiquette.
Wang hong are revolutionising China's online retail industry, influencing young people's purchases with their posts and livestreams. Livestreaming is one of the most popular ways for these influencers to make money; fans who watch can buy them virtual gifts that they can then redeem for cash.
Zhang Yi, head of mobile-internet consultant company iiMedia Research Group, told AFP she estimates that wang hong influence about 20% of online purchases.
“Now someone will wear [the product], try it, use it, and persuade you to buy it,” she said. “It’s a booming business. Wang hong have their own followers who can easily be made consumers of the brands they recommend.”
Several schools in the United States, like the University of Florida, already offer degree programs in social media marketing, and we wouldn't be surprised if the concept became more popular. After all, the skills go beyond Snapchat Filters 101 and History of Emojis — social media is serious business.