Wanna become an Instagram star? Now, you can get a formal education for that.
A university in China is offering courses that are meant to equip students with the skills they need for online fame.
From make-up classes, catwalk practice to dance performances, the Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College (YWICC) near Shanghai says it knows what you need to become a social media celeb.
In a country with over 700 million phone users, it can be tough standing out.
But top-earning internet celebrities, known as Wang Hong in China, can earn up to $46 million a year. It’s no wonder everyone’s jostling to become the Next Big Thing.
The skills you need for viral fame
At the YWICC, students are practicing in dance studios and being taught how to dress fashionably.
21-year-old Mengna Jiang is one of 33 students mostly women majoring in the school’s Modelling and Etiquette course. Students who complete three years of the course will be awarded with an associate degree.
These are just some of the many modules offered at the University under this major.
To cut it as an influencer, you’ll need to know, for a start: “aesthetic cultivation” and “fashion sensitivity”; “public relations etiquette” and photo processing skills.
“I like dressing myself up really pretty and take [sic] pictures, I feel like this major really suits me,” Ms Jiang told news wire AFP.
If you make it in a country with over a billion people, your reach could be astronomical.
Papi Jiang, one of China’s most popular online celebrities, has a following of 44 million across multiple platforms.
In comparison, Ryan Higa of YouTube fame has 19 million subscribers.
Making money and virtual gifts
Turning your popularity into actual moolah in China is a little different from how Western influencers do it.
The majority of China’s online celebrities host live-streaming events, where they film everything from their latest shopping haul to just a regular Q&A session.
Their fans who tune in to watch can buy them virtual gifts that can be redeemed for cash. For example, a virtual car bought by a fan could be cashed in for $20 with a share of the profits going to the live-streaming platform.
Influencers can also monetise their video channels the conventional way through advertising.
For Mengna Jiang, 30 minutes spent live-streaming to her online audience recently earned her $12 in gifts.
According to Analysys International, an internet consultancy firm, China’s Wang Hong industry was worth $10 billion in 2016, and could double by 2018.
Looks like the popularity of these courses aren’t going to go away anytime soon.