It seems like the debate into the validity of KOL and influencer marketing raises its head every few months, usually prompted by the latest scandal of inflated viewer numbers and fake fans. In fact, a recent report concluded that influencer ‘follower fraud’ costs businesses over $1 billion, with 15% of influencer marketing budgets being wasted.
Influencers themselves are also causing problems. For example, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency recently reported that complaints about influencers not disclosing commercial links or behaving unethically have tripled. And as Barney Farmer, commercial director for Nielsen Media UK points out despite all the challenges this relatively new industry has to face up to, estimates suggest that brands will be investing $15 billion in influencer marketing by 2022. Also, according to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer 63% of consumers trust influencers more than a brand’s own advertising.
One new shift in influencer marketing is the rise of the KOC, or key opinion consumer to give them their full title. And while the name might be new, the concept certainly isn’t, especially to B2B marketing professionals. In fact, its a subject we covered in this very blog a year ago (I did say at the beginning this topic seems to come up regularly at the moment!).
In a nutshell, a KOC is someone who has a small following on social media but enjoys a lot of credibility with their followers. They are more relatable and approachable than the big celebrity influencers, less of a risk for brands to invest in and more cost-effective. If a KOC is working with a brand, it is highly likely that they were already familiar with, and a fan of, said brand and its products to services. They are also more likely to be open and engage with their followers in genuine two-way interactions.
Whether it’s KOC, micro-influencer, whatever the latest buzz-phrase is, there is a key point to be made here when it comes to B2B marketing strategy, and that point is sometimes less really is more. At its core, B2B marketing is about influencing decision-makers and if the objective for your B2B campaign is to drive sales, you are seeking to influence those within your target market who actually have purchasing power. If you can partner with a KOC who is of interest to your potential buyer, is trusted by your potential buyer and has credibility within your target market, the impact of the campaign and the return on investment will be more substantial.