Long Time Influencer Xiaxue on her Work, the ‘Teething’ Influencer Industry, and More


While influencers come and go, Singapore-based Wendy Cheng, better known by her hundreds of thousands of fans as “Xiaxue”, has stood the test of time on an impressive scale.

Kicking off her career as a long-form blogger back in 2003, Xiaxue’s cutting wit and sometimes controversial commentary on a variety of topics soon cultivated a large following in the then emerging blog medium.

A following that was sizable enough that brands began lining up for her endorsements — this at a time when influencers were a new and relatively unknown component in the modern marketing mix.

 
 

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As time went on the media landscape changed, social media came rushing in, and Xiaxue evolved along with it, while her expanding fan base followed her over to Instagram and YouTube where she continues to command an authoritative presence.

Not that she doesn’t long for the good ol’ days when audience attention spans were significantly longer and the content more expansive.

 
 

“If I had a choice I would rather just go back to the days of long-form blogging where more people were actually reading instead of just looking at a picture or looking at a few seconds of a video,” she told Branding in Asia.

“My niche was writing good blog posts with a good point of view that people found refreshing or honest, and I find it increasingly difficult to carry my niche over to Instagram, you know, where people don’t really read captions anymore, they just seek beautiful photos of a sunset or doing a yoga pose at a beach.”

Though Xiaxue draws a strong following on Instagram, she has been placing greater focus on YouTube — which can be viewed as a sort of middle ground between long-form blogging and the quick scroll audience on Instagram.

And while over the years she’s garnered more than a fair share of detractors, Xiaxue’s haters and fans alike must all agree: whatever she’s doing has and continues to work.

In a world of rapidly shifting tastes, trends, and talent, that is saying a lot.

The influencer industry

When asked about her feelings on the influencer industry in general, Xiaxue says it’s still in its early stages, noting that influencers themselves are still finding their way — and not always on the right path.

“I think the industry is still teething. and with the influx of money coming in sometimes people tend to do more unethical stuff,” she said. “For example, if you’re not popular enough maybe you don’t get enough advertising so, in order to be more popular, maybe you resort to eating Tide Pods or buying followers.”

She even did a 22-minute video looking at influencers who may or may not have paid to pump up their number of followers — an issue serious enough that Unilever CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at length about influencer fraud being a major concern for brands.

Branding in Asia earlier this year had a chance to talk with the always candid and outspoken Xiaxue at Engage Bali in a conversation about her career, positives and negatives in the influencer industry, and more.

Check it out.

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