How big an influence can an Internet celebrity have?

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Tamdrin [File photo]

Recently, Tamdrin, a 20-year-old Tibetan herdsman from Litang County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province in southwest China, has become a hit online thanks to a 10-second video. Tamdrin smiles sweetly in the video. The video has gone viral, garnering over 2.7 million likes and 135,000 comments within days, most of which show fondness for his rugged style.

After shooting to fame overnight, Tamdrin was invited by his home county Litang to become a tourism ambassador, and made a commercial to promote local tourism. In the video, he is dressed in his traditional Tibetan costume, rides a white horse, and stands against a background of snow-capped mountains and yellow meadows, which triggered another round of following on the Internet. Soon, many other local areas claimed him as their own and a war of sorts has broken out among them over this new Internet influencer.

So far, Tamdrin appears calm, without becoming dizzy with success. The fact that he chooses to work for his hometown instead of joining entertainment companies has calmed people's worry that he might be seduced by the outside world. He has also been praised by many for his efforts to help his hometown that got rid of its impoverished status in February. Nevertheless, his wide popularity still worries some, afraid that he might be overly consumed in a fast-food culture environment.

A life-changing opportunity

Gui Conglu ( Some attribute Tamdrin's rise to fame to his handsome appearance, some to his purity and genuineness. These are the attributes all Internet influencers are supposed to be endowed with. What really wins him the network traffic is his love for his hometown and for life, as well as the snow-capped mountains, white clouds and his Tibetan costumes.

Nowadays, competition over network traffic is increasingly fierce. In this context, the genuineness and innocence of Tamdrin seems extremely precious. It's laudable that he has not lost his balance because of his overnight success, and is willing to help promote the local tourism of his hometown.

This windfall is certain to have some effect on this boy and may even influence the rest of his life. Recent years have seen many Internet influencers who come from China's remote areas and manage to change their fate through the Internet, including Li Ziqi, who is well known for her short videos about farming and rural life. Their short videos not only win online traffic and viewers' likes, but more importantly, these videos help to push the public's appreciation for the arts to higher levels and to enrich people's cultural lives. By doing so, these Internet influencers are actively taking on their social responsibilities, and this is what has won Tamdrin the outpouring of praise.

Song Shudong ( At a time when being an Internet influencer promises fortune and infinite bright prospects, a lot of people try everything possible to make themselves well-known through social media. They package themselves as beauties, dance, sing, or even adopt eccentric behaviors in order to become popular. Tamdrin, however, has managed to attract the public's attention with his ruggedly handsome appearance, and a kind of natural beauty and purity. He is thus seen as a clear alternative among Internet influencers.

Tamdrin's hometown Litang boasts pure, breathtaking natural landscapes. Thanks to Tamdrin, it has now become a dream destination for a lot of potential tourists.

Tamdrin has chosen to act as a tourism ambassador for his hometown. There is worry that he will be over-exposed to publicity, which will in turn soon plunge him into obscurity again. Thus, it's pleasant news that he has refused entertainment companies and has decided to work with a museum in his hometown. He has also contributed to a tourism publicity video of his hometown. It's not easy for such a young man to keep so calm after becoming famous overnight.

While netizens are still in dispute over whether he should leave his hometown and secure a footing in the entertainment industry, Tamdrin said that although the outside world is very attractive, he still loves his hometown best. It is laudable that he chooses to help his hometown to boost the local economy.

A well-known Tamdrin is now the target for an online grab by several provinces, which all claim they are related to him in various ways. Once one of these locations successfully claims him, there will be an inevitable upswing in positive public sentiment towards that location. That is what an Internet influencer is expected to deliver.

A name card for local tourism

Bai Jingjing (The Beijing News): After his short video went viral on social media Tamdrin was visited by talent scouts and also contacted by representatives of reality TV programs. The photographer who shot the short video has also begun to conduct live-streaming by Tamdrin, with the content causing a lot of controversy. 

In this fast-food era, it's easy even for big movie stars, who enjoy millions of fans, to be abandoned, let alone Internet influencers who shoot to fame overnight due to a photo or a short video. Tamdrin will not go too far even if he really joins the entertainment circle. He has only basic compulsory education and is not fluent in standard Chinese. Once leaving his hometown in his remote county, it's hard to predict whether he will be able to catch up with the rapid pace of modern life in the outside world. Once thrown into noisy cosmopolitan life, will he be able to hold on to the innocence and genuineness in his heart? Will he manage to cope with the kind of huge gap between rocketing to fame overnight and soon being forgotten by the public? Will his life be changed forever because of the short video?

Jiang Debin (Yanzhao Evening News): Recent years have seen a lot of ordinary people become Internet influencers within minutes. This kind of rocketing to fame is unpredictable. No one knows who will be the next, or whether he or she is able to seize the opportunity.

Litang used to be a national-level impoverished county, and it was not until last February that it was able to throw off this label. In the past, in order to tout local tourism, a series of marketing activities and schemes were tried but failed to make any headway. Today, thanks to Tamdrin's prominence, the county's scenic spots have finally become known nationwide. This is a rare opportunity for local economic development as well as tourism, and must be properly utilized. Particularly, overconsumption of Tamdrin must be avoided, lest the county be soon forgotten by the public as Tamdrin returns to obscurity.

After Tamdrin made his hit video, many places began to piggyback on his fame to attract attention. In the market economy environment, this kind of marketing method can help to prolong the frenzy that Tamdrin has triggered, and collectively bring many unknown places to fame.

China's midwest region is endowed with thrilling natural scenery and is rich in tourism resources, but lagging economic development has hampered the development of these resources. Tamdrin's overnight success has brought hope for development of local tourism resources and also local people's livelihoods.

The era of "good wine needs no bush" has gone. In modern times, it's necessary to make treasures known to the public. The Internet has made it possible for individuals to participate in video making and as a result, even in remote areas, people have the chance to become famous nationwide. Tamdrin's case is a striking example of a place becoming famous thanks to an ordinary local person, and this may not be easily replicated in other backward areas. But opportunities still abound, and as long as other regions keep trying, they can also find ways to propel their local economies into the future.

Wei Yingjie (Qianjiang Evening News): The biggest winners of Tamdrin's rise to fame are the tourism authorities of his hometown, Litang. Other places that are using various excuses to try to attach themselves to him actually benefit very little from the frenzy that currently surrounds him. 

Although by piggybacking on others' surging prominence, these places can attract a certain degree of attention, this is by no means a good method for them to present their tourism resources. They must promote their unique merits. It's better for them to produce their own Internet influencer than to take advantage of the influencer of another area. Many places are endowed with rich tourism resources, and as long as they are willing to spend some time refining these scenic spots and presenting them in proper ways, it's not impossible to have their own Internet influencers. So why are they all rushing to grab Tamdrin instead of finding a realistic method of becoming well-known that suits their local conditions? 

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