If you’re a die-hard C-biz fan, you should be familiar with the marketing account (yxh) concept. Understanding marketing accounts and the mechanism behind them do help a lot in our fangirling journey.
What are marketing accounts?
Marketing accounts are usually referred to as yxh(s) which is short for 营销号 /yingxiao hao/, an Internet slang used to describe public accounts on social networking platforms like Weibo, Bilibili, Weixin (WeChat), Douyin, etc. that create or collect content about almost every hot topic and event all over the Internet. There are many types of marketing accounts ranging from politics, history, education, technology to relationship advice, celebrity gossip.
Most of the content in celebrity gossip marketing accounts is called melons. Melon (瓜) is an internet buzzword for things worth gossip which can either be official news or rumors. Eating melon (吃瓜) is an activity of consuming information without expressing any particular opinion. People eating melons are called melon-eating crowds or melon eaters (吃瓜群众). Gossip is so much fun; that’s why people still love doing it despite all the negativity. Likewise, eating melons is one of the crucial parts of Chinese fandoms.
When a marketing account gains an adequate amount of traffic and number of followers, it can start monetizing through promoting products or services from various parties. As the number of marketing accounts increases rapidly due to the good amount of money earned from the traffic, the quality of these accounts has declined significantly. For the sake of traffic, they do not hesitate to plagiarize, repost content from other sources, and even post fake news or baseless rumors to create controversies.
How do marketing accounts manipulate public opinions?
To be fair, not all rumors on marketing accounts are completely baseless. A few pieces of information, especially projects’ rumors are leaked, purposely or accidentally, from the staff, industry insiders, or even paparazzi. Reading rumored projects is also a kind of joy for many fans, as they’re always curious about what their idols are up to. Some fans are wise enough to not buy any information before the confirmation, but many aren’t.
Besides the projects’ rumors, most of the information is impossible to confirm, especially those related to celebrities’ personal lives or internal agreements. The content marketing accounts give out is mysterious and interesting yet sounds “thorough” and “neutral.” Marketing accounts know exactly what people want to hear, so most of their content is created based on the needs of the melon-eating crowds. It’s something you may find impossible to happen but don’t want to deny or can’t quickly find a way to refute. The reality shows that no matter how irrational the information is, many people are still eager to read and buy them.
The content could be theories completely made up by the marketing accounts or discussions originate from Douban groups (豆瓣小组), Rabbit area (兔区), or Zhihu (知乎) – some of the most popular forums that gossip about celebrity and entertainment. Anyone – fans, anti-fans, or even professional organizations – can post anything on these free platforms with different purposes.
Marketing accounts can be dangerous as they manipulate public opinions using repetitive patterns. People tend to think something is true if the piece of information is repeated everywhere. Meanwhile, the case can be marketing accounts plagiarizing one another or an organization trying to spread out the information to serve specific purposes.
When marketing accounts become a means to brainwash people, it is used as a powerful tool to promote or defame particular works or celebrities. Marketing accounts with good traffic earn money by publishing paid content by particular parties – celebrity studios, film crews, show production crews, brands, etc. Many marketing accounts are even created and managed by media/ entertainment companies or celebrity studios as a part of their marketing strategies.
A common yet highly effective tactic to boost one’s fame is attaching his or her name to a more popular celebrity all over the Internet, either by promoting them both as a couple or comparing the two to elevate the less popular one’s position. Celebrity studios could polish or even make up public images of their artists by spreading manipulated content on numerous marketing accounts. Using the same way, some organizations can even try to defame other celebrities by spreading misleading or false news to have an advantage over their opponents.
Although the truth will come out sooner or later, the late revealed truth cannot make up for the harm suffered by cyber violence. Some false information on the Internet can be clarified, but it often comes too late. At that time, the attention of netizens has shifted, and clarifications have not been obtained at all. And this time difference is enough for those who spread fake news to gain the desired benefits.
In 2020, popular social networking platforms such as Weibo and Zhihu released the announcements on Special Rectification Actions for Malicious Marketing Accounts. Marketing accounts spreading fake news, content related to pornography and vulgarity, purposely triggering fandom wars, etc. will carry penalties such as being fined an amount of money or shut down depending on the severity of the violation.
Despite the platforms declaring to further purify their community environment and create a harmonious, friendly discussion atmosphere, the chaos of marketing accounts has never been completely resolved. The thirst of netizens for shocking news and conspiracy theories as well as the excessive pursuit of traffic keep fueling the situation. Therefore, to enjoy C-biz materials healthily, we should double-check the source of every single piece of information that we consume, keep our minds wise when reading rumors, and don’t feel emotionally attached to the content from marketing accounts.
“An (Un)helpful Guide To C-biz Fandom” Series: