Wanghong, Social Media Entertainment and the Social Industries

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Wanghong, Social Media Entertainment and the Social Industries

Day 3: 27 June 2021

Melbourne, AEST (UTC +10) | 10:00 – 11:00

Beijing, CST (UTC +8) | 08:00 – 09:00
London, BST (UTC +1) | 01:00 – 02:00
New York, EDT (UTC -4) | (26 June) 20:00 – 21:00
Los Angeles, PDT (UTC -7) | (26 June) 17:00 – 18:00

Stuart Cunningham | Queensland University of Technology
Jian Lin | University of Groningen
Anthony Fung | Chinese University of Hong Kong
Junyi Lv | USC Annenberg
Elaine Zhao | University of New South Wales
Dino Ge Zhang | Zhejiang University
Lin Song | University of Macau
Sijun Shen | Monash University

 David Craig | USC Annenberg


In Chinese, the term wanghong refers to creators, social media entrepreneurs alternatively known as KOLs (key opinion leaders) and zhubo (showroom hosts), influencers and micro-celebrities. Wanghong also refers to an emerging media ecology in which these creators cultivate online communities for cultural and commercial value by harnessing Chinese social media platforms, like Weibo, WeChat, Douyu, Huya, Bilibili, Douyin, and Kuaishuo. Through policy intervention and industry innovation, China has incubated, promoted and controlled this industry, which operates centrally in the rapid transformation of China’s digital economy. Framed by the concepts of cultural, creative, and social industries, the book maps the development of wanghong policies and platforms, labor and management, content and culture, as they operate in contrast to its non-Chinese counterpart, social media entertainment, driven by platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch. As evidenced by the backlash to TikTok, the threat of competition from global wanghong signals advancing platform nationalism.

Key words:

Wanghong, social media entertainment, creators, influencers, platforms, KOLs 


  • Q&A  
  • 5-minute pre-recorded summaries of research. 
  • Student papers may also be available. 


Stuart Cunningham

Stuart Cunningham is Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Queensland University of Technology. In 2021, he is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow, University of Canberra. His most recent books are Social Media Entertainment: The new intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley (with David Craig, 2019), A Research Agenda for Creative Industries (edited with Terry Flew, 2019) and Wanghong as Social Media Entertainment in China (with David Craig and Jian Lin). Creator Culture: Studying the Social Media Entertainment Industry (edited with David Craig) is forthcoming June 2021.

David Craig

Professor Craig teaches graduate-level courses in global, U.S., Chinese, legacy and social media industries, management, and production. He is Co-Director of the joint Global Communication Masters program between USC Annenberg and LSE and a visiting scholar at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Along with his co-authors, he has published books and articles about social media entertainment, wanghong, and creator culture. Prior to teaching, he was a veteran Emmy-Award nominated producer and television executive.

Junyi Lv

Junyi Lv is a Ph.D. student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. She holds a Master degree of Communication Management also from USC Annenberg, and a Bachelor degree in Broadcasting Journalism from China. Her research interests lie in the intersection of public spheres, social media entertainment, and environmental communication. Currently, she is working on a project about China’s esports industry.

Sijun Shen

Sijun Shen is working on her Ph.D. in Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. Her thesis project aims to make sense of the excessivity, extremity and the popularity of China’s eat-streaming in its political-economic-social context using psychoanalytic theories.

Lin Song

Lin Song is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Communication at University of Macau. He researches on Chinese media and digital cultures, particularly in relation to gender, sexual, and national identities.

Anthony Y.H. Fung

Anthony Y.H. Fung is Director of Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies and Director of Global Studies Program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Professor in the School of Art and Communication at Beijing Normal University at Beijing. His research interests and teaching focus on popular culture and cultural studies, popular music,gender and youth identity, cultural industries and policy, and digital media studies.

Jian Lin

Jian Lin (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor in the Department of Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen. He has co-authored the book Wanghong As Social Media Entertainment in China (Palgrave McMillan, 2021). He also published articles on Chinese creative industries, platform studies, and social media culture in leading academic journals. His research interests include cultural industries and creative labor, social media entertainment, platform studies, and Chinese contemporary culture.

Elaine Jing Zhao

Elaine Jing Zhao is senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales Sydney. Her research interest lies in creative labour, platform governance, informal media economy and media globalisation. She is the author of Digital China’s Informal Circuits: Platforms, Labour and Governance and China’s Digital Presence in the Asia-Pacific: Culture, Technology and Platforms (co-authored with Michael Keane, Haiqing Yu and Susan Leong).

Dino Ge Zhang

Dino Ge Zhang is a media anthropologist and a postdoctoral fellow at Zhejiang University.

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