Influencer marketing is a pivotal element in brand communications in Chinese market as social media platforms are playing a dominant role in the life of Chinese consumers.
Influencers, or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), are becoming more powerful than traditional media because they have a more extensive audience base and a deeper and more intimate connection with their audience.
KOLs are social media content creators who produce widely spread viral content and build a large fan base on social media platforms. They are lifestyle advocates, knowledge distributors, and fun/entertainment providers. Their content often can resonate with followers on a deep level, and their opinions or preference on specific products are powerful enough to influence or change followers’ buying decisions.
Brands can leverage KOLs’ influence to help build awareness, trigger conversions, and achieve sales. But KOL marketing in China can be tricky. The price of big KOLs skyrockets, the result figures can be faked. There’s no guaranteed win.
Here are some tips that we think that might help guide you in the labyrinth of KOL marketing.
Make KOL relevant to your products
The power of KOLs comes from the trusting relationship between KOLs and their followers. Do not confuse KOL marketing with celebrity endorsement. Any trace of commercial in KOL marketing will compromise KOLs’ relationship with their followers. So the first thing in KOL marketing is to identify KOLs who are relevant to your brand or product. Before signing a KOL, consider if your product fits the KOL’s personality, style, and expertise.
Only pick the KOL who can tell a natural, relevant story about your product. The more convincing they can tell the story, the better results you will achieve. Apart from choosing the right KOL for your brand, it’s also crucial for brands to work with KOL to create a relevant story. For example, Mini Cooper worked with Fashion KOL Becky Li, who has a particular sense of colour, sold 100 limited edition minis, painted in a rare turquoise hue called the Caribbean Aqua, in just 5 minutes.
Mini Cooper worked with Fashion KOL Becky Li
Empower your KOL with exclusivity
Exclusivity is one of the key drivers in today’s social context. Things like an exclusive offer and customised editions can be a transactional discount and a kind of social currency. And this can effectively enhance the relationship between KOL and followers. Brands can empower KOLs with special offers, exclusive coupons, follower-only experiences, even limited editions co-branding with KOLs. This can effectively maximise the KOL’s conversion power, and on the other hand, also motivate followers to share and spread your content.
Leverage the power of SEO
Chinese social media like WeChat, Little Red Book, Weibo, etc., use either an internal search engine or Baidu to offer brand/product keyword search. Chinese consumers are accustomed to searching and browsing products directly on social media or e-commerce platforms. Therefore, brands must leverage search engine optimization in their KOL campaigns on these platforms. For example, brands can target certain keywords and make sure these keywords are frequently used throughout the content posted by KOLs.
Be smart to choose the right KOL mix-and-match
The size of the fan base is not the sole criterion for an impactful KOL campaign. And it certainly does not guarantee success. Micro-influencers who have fewer followers sometimes can be more effective in converting sales because their followers usually are more loyal and have a greater interest in KOL’s. This strong bond between the KOL and followers can often mean enhanced effectiveness, especially in conversion than KOLs with a huge fan base and much higher price. Marketers do need to consider the task that they want to achieve.
To build awareness or stimulate conversion, spread reputation or establish a more explicit and sharper image, you need to pick different KOLs to complete various tasks. Always choose a mix of KOLs according to your priority of goals to maximise your campaign impact.
At THINK CHINA, we have our own KOL management portal and an experienced team to plan, execute and measure KOL marketing campaigns. We can help brands identify the right KOL mix and work closely with KOLs to create the right content according to your specific business objective. And with the tracking data powered by our technology tools, we can further measure and optimize the campaign result.