Xingyu Liu is the lead tennis commentator at Zhangyu TV, a Chinese online sports live coverage platform. He’s the firs one to incorporate the talk-show style into the sports play-by-play in China. Liu is also a music professional and he became well-known in 2012 by all the Chinese tennis fans because he wrote a song for Li Na, the most famous tennis player in China, to celebrate her 30th birthday.
In 2015, he created his own social media subscription platform on WeChat, the most popular social media platform in China. On this platform, he brings the most up-to-date tennis-related news and information for his audience and expresses his unique perspectives on tennis, and most importantly, interacts with his audience to make their relationship become even closer.
Jerry Liu: What was your initial purpose to build this tennis-related social media platform?
Xingyu Liu: I created this platform initially to send out the tournament schedule notices and the match results for my audience at Zhangyu TV. By using this platform, they may know when the live coverage will begin and I would also give some insights on the key matches of the day.
JL: What were the difficulties that you faced at the beginning of running this platform?
XL: I think the most challenging part was being consistent. At that time, only my assistant and I were running this platform. There were a lot of people watching my live coverage, however not so many people actually subscribed my platform although it was free to do so. I was a little bit disappointed and frustrated. Although it may only take you 30 minutes to send out an update, it’s still becoming a burden when you have to do it every day. But I knew I had to be more determining so I kept updating until today.
JL: From your point of view, what is the key to develop a new media or social media platform?
XL: I think the key is to build an interactive relationship between the author and his or her audience so that the audience may feel like they are communicating with a real person. Not like traditional media, audiences just get the information from them and do not have a chance to show feedback. So I would like to create a platform that everyone can express themselves. As a social media platform, you have the advantage to increase the cohesiveness with your audience and maintain a close connection with them.
JL: What makes your platform stand out from other tennis-related platforms?
XL: I think my advantage is building that connection with my audience. I really care about what my audience says and what they are thinking about my live coverage. So we’ll reply nearly every response from our audience and I’ll post both praise and constructive criticism onto the platform to encourage more discussions.
JL: How do you build the customer loyalty by using your unique content?
XL: First of all, the tournament result and schedule are the most basic information for audience to follow your update. Furthermore, I will write some articles or featured stories from a unique angle to encourage audiences to think behind the scene and to dive deeper into the different matches.
JL: What keeps you motivated all the time to produce the most desired content for audiences?
XL: I think I really enjoy being an opinion leader in the tennis field when more people kind of agree with what you say and are eager to interact with you. Every time you get positive feedback that will always become your motivation and initiative.
JL: For the future, what are your expectations for your platform?
XL: Based on my observation, the number of subscribers of my platform is pretty much the same as the number of subscribers of “Tennis Master” magazine’s (Chinese most famous tennis-related magazine) platform or LeTV Sports’ (the biggest online sports broadcasting media in China) platform. So I will be more ambitious and I am planning to transform my platform into a real business, seeking sponsorship or advertisements. In a word, I think this is a really great experience for me to gain more opportunities on what I am passionate about.