How Mbappé’s Meme Magic is Winning Over Chinese Fans

Kylian Mbappé’s Entry into Xiaohongshu: French football star Kylian Mbappé, currently with Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG), has successfully joined the Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu, also known as RED. In just four days, he gained 192,000 followers and made three bilingual posts.

His introductory video alone attracted 88.2K views and 11K comments.

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Active Engagement and Learning Cultural Cues:

Unlike Lionel Messi, who faced criticism for neglecting his Chinese followers during a trip to Hong Kong, Mbappé is actively embracing Chinese internet culture. This includes learning to use local memes like “Mbappé listens to users’ persuasion” (姆巴佩听劝), highlighting his team’s commitment to the Chinese market.

Fan Interaction on Red-Xiaohongshu

Since his debut on the platform, there has been enthusiastic fan engagement with posts like “My story with Boss Mbappéde.” This interaction is promoted by Xiaohongshu officials and through fans’ spontaneous contributions.

Content Diversity and User Love: It remains unclear whether the diverse content on Mbappé’s Xiaohongshu account, which includes posts about PSG, pandas, travel tips for places like Sanya and Shanghai, and food recommendations such as Tianshui Malatang, is curated by his team or personally by Mbappé. This variety has endeared him to many users, evidenced by the trending hashtag “who can teach Mbappé off the collections” (#谁能教姆巴佩关下收藏夹#), which topped Xiaohongshu’s Hot Search List with 11 million views on April 28.

Wider Platform Impact: Mbappé’s presence on Xiaohongshu has also sparked discussions on other platforms like Hupu and Weibo. Topics range from his relationship with PSG (fueled by the fact that Mbappé and PSG’s Xiaohongshu accounts do not follow each other) to humorous anecdotes about him learning Chinese, notably deleting comments mentioning Neymar due to their past conflicts.

Weibo Presence and Strategic Choices: Mbappé also maintains a Super Topic on Weibo with 68K followers and over a billion post views. However, his strategic choice to debut on Xiaohongshu, known for its predominantly female demographic, aligns with Xiaohongshu’s push to expand its sports content.

RED Sports Content Expansion

Since the 2022 World Cup, Xiaohongshu has emerged as a vital platform for sports content, attracting football legends like Zidane and Mourinho, and major clubs such as Barcelona and Juventus. This has significantly enhanced Xiaohongshu’s profile as a leading platform for football content, with posts tagged “football” now totaling 2.81 million.

Little Red Book: China’s Emerging Sports Content Powerhouse

Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, is rapidly transforming into a major sports content platform in China, transcending its original image as a lifestyle and shopping-oriented social network. The platform, renowned for its blend of e-commerce and social networking features, is now a burgeoning hub for sports enthusiasts, athletes, and major clubs seeking to connect with Chinese fans.

Strategic Expansion into Sports

The shift towards sports content on Xiaohongshu began gaining momentum around the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The platform capitalized on the global sports fever by hosting posts from iconic figures like Zinedine Zidane, José Mourinho, and Diego Simeone. These football legends engaged with fans directly, sharing insights and sparking discussions about the matches. This initiative marked Xiaohongshu’s first significant step towards becoming a serious contender in the sports digital media space.

Influx of Major Football Clubs

Following the successful engagement during the World Cup, several prestigious football clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus, and Manchester United, established their presence on Xiaohongshu. Their arrival was not just about sharing updates or player highlights; it was strategically aimed at building a closer relationship with Chinese fans. These clubs now regularly post behind-the-scenes content, player interviews, and even special greetings during Chinese festivals, significantly enhancing fan interaction and loyalty.

A Platform of Choice for Athletes

Xiaohongshu’s appeal to athletes like Kylian Mbappé underscores its unique position in the Chinese market. Unlike platforms that are predominantly male-oriented, Xiaohongshu boasts a significant female user base, offering a fresh demographic for sports figures and teams. This demographic diversification allows athletes to broaden their personal brand appeal and connect with a wider range of fans.

Leveraging Localized Content

What sets Xiaohongshu apart in the sports domain is its emphasis on localized and culturally resonant content. Athletes and teams are not just sharing generic updates; they are actively engaging with cultural trends, memes, and local interests. This approach has proven effective, as seen with Mbappé’s team leveraging popular Chinese memes to engage users, thus deepening his connection with the audience.

Future of Sports Marketing in China

As Xiaohongshu continues to evolve, its potential as a sports marketing platform seems limitless. With its mix of content creation and e-commerce capabilities, it offers a unique model for sports entities to not only engage with fans but also drive merchandise sales directly through the platform. As more global sports figures and teams recognize its value, Xiaohongshu is set to redefine sports fandom and engagement in China.

In conclusion, Xiaohongshu’s rise as a sports content platform is reshaping how sports are marketed and consumed in China. By blending social networking with direct fan engagement, it offers a fresh and dynamic approach to sports marketing in the digital age.

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