Anyone familiar with the China marketing landscape will be familiar with KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders. These people post content from their social media accounts to boost a brand’s visibility.
KOLs enjoying a Goose Island in Shanghai
Broadly speaking, there are four main categories
- Celebrities and famous people – using these costs big bucks. Several hundred thousand RMB per post.
- Experts and professionals – People respected in their particular field, who comment on particular issues/topics. Costs vary.
- Grassroots – Bloggers, Youku stars, socialites. Costs vary.
- Verified organizations – these are accounts used by companies to promote products about a particular topic, such as fashion or food. Costs vary.
At Brandigo, we’ve worked with a number of KOLs over the years in all these categories, based upon the client’s requirements and our assessment of how effective the tactic will be.
For consumer brands, they undoubtedly provide a boost to a brand’s visibility. Sometimes it is just an interest spike, although consistent posting can create a sustained level of exposure that leads to increase in sales. A new to market fashion range can become the must wear trend if the right KOLs are promoting it to an audience of tens of millions of target consumers.
But what about B2B? Is this a guaranteed way of achieving a brand boost, or a flash in the pan that eats away at the budget and never quite returns on the balance sheet?
Obviously, B2B KOLs are from the experts and professionals category. Short of getting them to officially endorse or be a brand ambassador for your products, this is a good way of giving the brand credence with a new market.
Likewise, verified organizations are a good way of getting your content to your target audience. If there is an account that everybody in the food supplement or medical device industry follows, then getting them to post your content means you can ride the wave of their popularity, and even collect new followers if they allow you to post a link or QR code to your brand’s account.
Before embarking on KOL buying for B2B, here are a few things to consider:
- Is this a suitable KOL? Go back through their previous posts, and check the content being posted is on the subjects you want to talk about.
- Ask industry insiders! Find out if the KOL you’re targeting is followed by and respected by your target customers.
- Don’t get seduced by the numbers! Big numbers look impressive, but are they the right people? Make sure the followers are your target audience.
- Good KOLs don’t just copy and paste – they should discuss with you how to best present your content for their audience
Good B2B KOLs will be hard to find or even identify as the categories and sectors they appeal to will be very narrow. Again, industry knowledge is crucial to finding the right people.