Yoyo Cao (Photo: Yoyo Cao)

Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore is proud to continue working with Chanel on nurturing the next generation of talent, our latest initiative being the BAZAAR Academy Masterclass series to equip students with the skills to tackle different facets of the business of fashion. Over the course of six weeks, experts and insiders come together to share their knowledge, insights and tips. 

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For our fourth instalment, entrepreneur and social-media star Yoyo Cao talks to Associate Fashion Director, Jeffrey Yan about content creation and marketing—specifically, on how to create compelling content for various platforms. The fashion and media landscape today has necessitated a multi-platform strategy since digital and social platforms have become the primary channels on which content is created and consumed.  In this landscape, Cao has successfully established a strong personal brand, which she has leveraged into work on high-profile campaigns and collaborations with fashion’s biggest brands. 

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According to her, one of the biggest things that future content creators coming into the industry need to practice is Doing the Homework. “You have to come to the table fully prepared. You have to know what the story of the brand is, the story of the product or collection they want to talk about. You need to ask the right questions.” She takes Chanel, a frequent collaborator, for example. “You have to know the history of the house, its icons, what sets it apart; how is Coco’s Chanel different from Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel, and how is his different from Virginie Viard’s Chanel.”

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Once you have the fundamentals of the story in place, you can then strategise how best to tell that story. Cao advocates a 360-Degree Approach. “I think a mix of stills and videos work best. For me, a 30-second video makes the most impact, and then I will do additional photo posts to round it out, and also link back to my website where I can do a story that really dives into the details.” 

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To create content that is compelling and relevant for one’s audience (instead of merely fulfilling a brand’s brief) Cao says it’s key to Know Your Audience. “I interact a lot with my followers, whether in the comments, through DMs, or by holding physical events where I get to meet them. This fosters a sense of community and I think it’s important to make them feel included. For example, we get sent a lot of beauty products and I give this to my followers and ask them to review it. It’s a win-win—they get to be a part of something and I get honest, authentic reviews.”

To keep that audience engaged, Cao recommends Reinvention, Not Repetition. “It’s important to always reinvent what you are putting out. If you keep repeating yourself, at some point it won’t be engaging anymore. I always like the challenge of trying something I’ve never done before.” She gives the recent circuit-breaker and its resulting limitations as an example. “During COVID-19 when everyone was staying home, I branched out into Instagram Live sessions with my friends in the industry and we covered topics that ranged from educational—like sustainability or how to start a fashion business—to entertainment, like just playing games. I think that was more relatable and valuable to not just my followers, but to myself as well because I learned new things. At that time, I don’t think anybody wants to see yet another picture of a pretty outfit.”

For Cao, another one of the most important things a budding content creator needs to have is the Ability to Say No. “When you are new, you might be tempted to say yes to everything because you don’t know if you will get another opportunity. But you have to have the big picture in your mind always—what is the kind of brand you want to have in 5 to 10 years? Don’t sacrifice your long-term goals because of short-sightedness; you have to stay in the right lane and not lose focus. Once you compromise your goals and open the door to things you don’t believe in, it’s going to be very hard to close that door and say no the next time.” 

Below are some of the other values and qualities that Cao feels every content creator should abide by. 

Consistency: “Everyone’s attention spans are so short now—you really have to have the discipline to create content consistently to stay on top of your audience’s mind.”

Clarity: “You have to be very clear about what you want—the direction of your brand and the content you want to put out—and stick to it.”

Quality: “Like I mentioned earlier, I like to reinvent—try different things, different looks, different ways of telling a story—but the level of quality needs to be the same because that will be your brand.”

Authenticity: “Audiences today are so smart—they will know when something is not organic or authentic. They will reject something that feels like a hard sell.”