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How China’s Shein Conquered Global Social Media


The central theses:

  • Nanjing-based brand Shein recently overtook Zara and is approaching H&M as one of the world’s largest fast fashion brands.
  • The brand’s success is largely down to its internet-viral social media strategy, which has featured in countless clothing videos on TikTok and YouTube.
  • Shein also works with well-known celebrities – Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, Rita Ora, Hailey Bieber and Yara Shahidi all represented Shein last year.

There aren’t many Gen Zers on social media who don’t know about Chinese fast fashion brand Shein. Alone on TikTok #shein has garnered 6.2 billion views and appears on 70+ other trending hashtags, while Shein’s ten verified accounts, representing some of the 220+ countries and regions it ships to, have a total of nearly 30 million followers on Instagram.

Founded by entrepreneur Xu Yangtian (aka Chris Xu) in Nanjing around 2008 as Sheinside.com with a focus on selling inexpensive wedding dresses, the company moved to the wider retail sector in 2015 and has since been on the way to global internet social virality Media.

As a direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailer of apparel, housewares, pet supplies, and pretty much everything else, Shein doubled its sales for eight consecutive years. The latest round of funding valued the company at more than $ 15 billion, according to LatePost. approaching People like H&M ($ 23.1 billion) and overtake Zara ($ 14.7 billion).

The brand primarily relies on social media marketing and invites fans around the world to their affiliate program, through which aspiring influencers can receive commissions for promoting the brand with posts of their outfits. As a result, Shein’s Instagram includes images of paid partnerships with mega influencers like TikToker Addison Rae in addition to reposts from lesser-known YouTubers with follower numbers in the range of 2,000 to 50,000.

Shein works with mega influencers like Addison Rae along with thousands of brand fans. (Photo: @addisonrae Instagram)

Emily Trenouth, director of influencer marketing at an advertising company MediaCom, says that Shein’s social media strategy has gained mass awareness through its influencer affiliate program. “They have a really robust two-pronged approach of partnering and collaborating with macro influencers while running a huge micro-influencer always-on program,” she said.

In India alone, Shein worked with around 2,000 influencers in 2018, his first year on the market interview with Shein India General Manager Malcolm Yam, who also noted that the company contacts potential cooperation partners almost daily.

The high volume of influencer partnerships is reflected in the brand’s frequent and consistent posts on each of their Instagram accounts, which typically include five to eight new posts per day. And by using country-specific accounts on Instagram, Shein can refine its local influencer strategies and create more relevant connections with consumers in each of those markets.

Trenouth emphasized how well Shein understands the types of content that resonate most with Gen Z consumers, such as “Contests, Hauls, Reels, TikToks and Live DJ Sets”. She noted, “There is a community of Shein fans who want to actively participate and be associated with their brand, which is evident from over 734,000 hashtag uses of #Shingals on Instagram. “

Shein hosts Instagram live shows every Wednesday and recently celebrated its fourth anniversary with an Instagram live event hosted by Renee Ariel (17.5K followers) and Fiona Zaring (2,707 followers), where viewers had the chance to win gift cards and redeemable points while viewing clothing reviews. And last year, the brand enlisted A-listers Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, Rita Ora, Hailey Bieber and Yara Shahidi to perform in their livestream donation concert #SheinTogether to support the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.


Unsupported videos top Shein on YouTube. (Photo: YouTube)

While Shein has a strong digital strategy and invest When it comes to online videos, the decisive strength of the brand lies in its social media presence based on user-generated content. As the epitome of a customer-centric brand, the label is perhaps best known for appearing in millions of review videos or “garments” on TikTok and YouTube. Of the top ten Shein try-on videos on YouTube, only two have been sponsored by the brand.

Shein has a notoriously large number of extremely affordable products, with up to 500 new items for sale every day, encouraging buyers to seek out hidden gems and share their discoveries with others.

Clothes trails are the most successful format for fashion brands in influencer marketing, according to Trenouth, simply because consumers want to see clothes on real people. “Hauls are really moving forward,” she said. “Because we see them in TikTok and Reels videos instead of having to watch an entire 15-20 minute YouTube video, brands and influencers can show more looks in less time and ultimately reach more potential customers. ”

As these videos continue to captivate Gen Z, so will Shein. Over the next decade, young consumers may become increasingly aware of the environmental concerns of fashioning too fast, but until their shopping and viewing habits are driven by a greener conscience, Shein’s social media strategy will continue to outperform the competition.


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