The Power of KOLs and Influencers
What is KOL (Key Opinion Leader)？
A Key Opinion Leader (KOL), sometimes referred to as an influencer, is a member of a community whose expert opinion is respected by others in their field. Key opinion leaders are authorities on a particular subject; they usually have a target audience dedicated to their niche.
KOL is the intermediate link between the brand and the consumer, connecting with the buying public and thus increasing the market effectiveness of the product, while on the other hand having more information about the product and providing consumers with more reliable and realistic data.
The importance of KOL to brand influence:
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful tools in marketing:
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers declare that they are more likely to trust a personal recommendation than an advertisement.
74% of consumers cite word of mouth as a key influence on their purchase decisions
Millennials are 115% more influenced by word of mouth than by traditional advertising
Influencers propagating products through social media platforms are similar to a word-of-mouth mechanism. It’s a more powerful, faster, and cheaper way to boost sales than traditional advertising because consumers rely on word-of-mouth up to 10 times more than paid media. A 10% increase in word-of-mouth could translate into up to a 1.5% increase in sales. Moreover, Influencer marketing sees an average ROI of $6.50 for each dollar spent.
Nowadays, it is universally acknowledged that KOL has a significant impact on brand marketing. KOL marketing tops the list of social marketing priorities with an average of 66% of advertisers' social marketing budgets in 2023. KOL marketing has the following benefits:
Increase brand awareness: KOLs have a powerful ability to spread the word and can quickly increase brand awareness and exposure.
Enhances brand trust: Consumers usually perceive KOLs as having a high level of professionalism and credibility, and their recommendations of brands help to enhance consumers' trust in the brand.
Create purchase intention: KOL recommendations can directly influence consumers' purchase decisions and create purchase momentum.
Shaping brand image: KOLs can use their characteristics and image to convey unique values and ideas for brands, helping them to build a unique brand image.
Accurate positioning: Brands can easily reach their target audience by cooperating with KOLs who have the same type of target audience.
KOL marketing trends:
According to the "2023 KOL Marketing White Paper" released by China Advertising Association, the 6 major trends of 2023 KOL marketing in China are:
Influencer marketing expects to be upgraded, helping the whole chain of marketing
Influencer ecology is becoming more and more complex, with dividends from multi-position integration
More than just vertical categories and funny influencers, dark horse influencers have great potential
Influencer accounts and brand accounts learn from each other.
KOC creativity inspires good content, and advertisers invest 40% of the budget in this Stream
The commercial value of virtual people has emerged as a new traffic bonus
KOL management is the way brands organize their marketing campaigns with KOLs and their audiences.
Good KOL management involves creating a real connection between the brand and the KOLs the brand works with. Both parties should make a real investment in the partnership.
KOL management not only requires you to inform key opinion leaders about your brand and product, but also the way you want them to present, the target audience, your marketing goals, etc. You can even develop themes or tags and let some influential KOLs create videos connected with your theme or tag, and spread those videos simultaneously.
Walmart's Black Friday marketing is a successful case. Walmart has partnered with China TikTok (Douyin) KOLs to create a dance competition for Black Friday. The hashtag for the video was #DealDropDance.
To ensure the success of the campaign, Walmart partnered with six China TikTok KOLs, who let all their fans know about the campaign by posting creative videos from Walmart shops, encouraging more people to post their impromptu dances in Walmart shops to win a $100 shopping card from Walmart.
The videos worked so well that the six influencers reached 17 million followers with the campaign. And it attracted many other influencers and customers to film impromptu dances in the aisles of Walmart shops.
Besides creative content, you also need to carefully choose the KOLs that you want to cooperate with. Normally, it’s better to choose KOLs in your niche market, with similar values and styles based on the brand positioning and communication objectives. You can match your consumer profile with the user profile of the platform and the profile of the KOL’s target audience to choose the most suitable KOL and platform for your brand.
However, KOLs who do not focus on your niche market but have a strong influence should not be overlooked. A diverse choice with a sensible KOL matrix is probably the best strategy.
Measure the success of the KOL marketing:
Measuring the success of your campaigns is an indispensable part of KOL management. This can help you optimize your campaigns and KOL matrix in the future.
You can measure your success according to two simple metrics, brand awareness, and direct response.
Brand awareness is mainly represented by the exposure rate, which includes:
Direct responses are tied to specific actions and purchase intent including:
Trust is at the heart of KOL influence:
Unlike traditional marketing in which consumers are usually attracted by “ads”, KOL marketing lets consumers be attracted by “people”. Consumers buy the product mainly because they trust KOLs, so they trust the brand KOLs recommend.
“Trust” is the secret of KOL marketing and the increase of brand reputation. However, “trust” is also where the risk lies because once consumers don’t trust the KOL, they will also have a bad impression of the brand. Likewise, if the brand reputation breaks, it will also have a negative influence on KOL.
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