Along with influencer marketing, KOL marketing has been around for a long time but has gained a lot of attention in the past few years due to the growing demand for authentic product reviews.
KOL marketing enlists the help of a key-of-leader in a specific niche, building authenticity along with trust, and growing conversion rates.
This type of marketing is redefining the marketing world, giving brands enhanced communication and improvement of customer experience.
What is KOL Marketing?
Key-of-leader (KOL) marketing, is a strategy where brands work with people who have the expertise and knowledge on a specific subject that is connected to the product/service promoted or that is of interest to their target market.
Most modern KOL marketing occurs online, often on social networks or social video sites. In some cases, the KOLs have built their names on popular niche blogs.
How KOL Marketing Works
Here is a simple equation to help better understand KOL marketing.
The KOL Equation: Authenticity + Trust = Customers
Keep in mind, KOL marketing isn’t as simple or easy as just putting those two factors together and having customers appear out of thin air.
It takes precise planning and calculation in finding the right person for the brand to push the product toward consumers.
For example, when a skincare company wants to increase their product exposure and credibility with the ultimate goals of increasing sales and increasing brand awareness, they usually seek to work with beauty bloggers or beauty influencers to bring their products closer to their communities.
One of the most sought after key-of-leaders in the beauty industry is Susan Yara, has tested just about every product out there so you don’t have to. She is also the founder of channel Mixed Makeup and co-founder of new skincare brand Naturium.
More than 400k followers and almost 1.5 millions subscribers turn to her to discover the latest and greatest makeup and skincare trends. With KOL marketing, brands tap into her reputation and credibility to effectively approach their target audience.
Understanding these fundamentals is key for a business to use KOL marketing and what makes it distinct from other forms of marketing.
But why do people keep pitting it against influencer marketing?
KOL Marketing Vs Influencer Marketing
KOL marketing and influencer marketing tend to get mixed up quite often in consumers’ eyes.
Both techniques have the same goal by bringing in partners to build brand awareness. But one main difference between them is how they go about establishing authenticity.
To start with, influencer marketing stays true to the name and has brands seek out and recruit influencers.
The search process for influencers is often more focused on finding an individual or group of people who are contemporarily popular and have a huge following on social media platforms.
The biggest priority when it comes to influencer marketing is reaching the most amount of people as possible.
For every 100,000 followers that see a sponsored post, that is 100,000 potential customers. The idea is that the more people that hear or view a message, the more likely the brand will see a rise in conversion rates.
The proven effectiveness and popularity of influencer marketing continue to make it a tried and true method that many brands will continue to use, especially in the coming year.
However, influencer marketing tends to fall short when it comes to reinforcing a sense of authenticity.
This is an area that KOL marketing exceeds in and makes it vastly superior to influencer marketing.
The benefits of KOL marketing
1. Directly reach a pool of your target audience
KOL Marketing all starts with the search process, and how it contrasts with influencer marketing.
Instead of partnering with mega-influencers on the internet to advertise their product, KOL marketing focuses on finding someone with a history and background knowledge that fits their brand.
This helps brands tap into pre-existing goodwill their key opinion leader has with consumers in that particular field.
2. Increase brand awareness and credibility
The key opinion leaders within the communities that each brand wants to target hold authority in their areas of expertise.
The kol’s reputation helps brands build authenticity with consumers and is the foundation of turning them into a customer.
With authenticity from a key opinion leader, consumers let their guard down and open their ears to hear a brand’s message.
As they are listening, the key showcases the features and benefits of the product, along with making it known how much they trust the brand.
3. KOL’s strategic contributions
Influencers mainly spend their time on major social media platforms, which works well for connecting with their huge following on those social platforms.
However, as soon as their followers see that post, it is only a matter of seconds until their thumbs scroll off to the next thing, the impact of that post is lost, and all of the brand’s hard work is for nothing.
KOL marketing remedies this issue by utilizing and leveraging functions specific to each social media platform for an in-depth presentation of products and services.
How these platforms deliver a solution is by being optimized for proper communication over flashy presentations, enabling key opinion leaders to deliver an in-depth brand analysis to their followers.
This in-depth analysis aims to showcase all of the features, benefits and values of the marketed product to consumers, making the focused brand and product truly stand out.
The strategies for KOL marketing in 2023
1. Authenticity is key
With the surge of Gen Z social media users, authenticity and personal identity become the new way to sell on social media.
Since content has become more commercially driven, and sometimes profits trump authenticity and originality, consumers are much more skeptical of product recommendations by influencers and KOLs. For these reasons, consumers tend to do plenty of research on KOLs and scramble amidst profiles to find the most authentic one and depend on his/her opinion.
It pays to be strategic and intentional when it comes to selecting the suitable KOLs to work with as a brand.
In fact, 61% of consumers trust KOLs’ recommendations–more than the 38% who trust branded (and often biased) social media content. Smaller KOLs have higher engagement and are in large supply. So, it is no surprise that brands and markets prefer to work with micro KOLs than traditional celebrities for their promotional campaigns.
Collaborating with the ones that align with your brand value and mission will bring you closer to your target audience.
2. Tapping into the power of community groups
Facebook groups have new features like live video content, story updates, and join as a business page. With changes in Facebook’s algorithm, groups have become the go-to place to connect with your audience in the current social media landscape.
Through groups, you can not only get feedback on your products, but also create additional engagement. A similar effect has been noticed on Instagram, where KOLs have started making their profiles private. This is done to avoid the influence of the Instagram algorithm.
Instagram Stories also have a “Close Friends” feature. Through it, brands can showcase their Stories to a select number of people for insider insight. This can even give people a more unique feel and they also feel privileged to be able to see Stories. Such segmentation trends can be expected to evolve and shape the future of social media marketing.
3. Dig into live streaming with KOLs
Live video content is another popular trend on social media. Live video launched first on YouTube in 2008 and then on Facebook in 2016. Instagram and Tiktok also added the livestream features in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
In fact, 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read their blog post. Livestream videos allow brands and KOLs to even demonstrate products and receive engagement from their audience in real time.
Recently, Tastemade, one of the biggest video publishers and livestreamers on Facebook teamed up with Pinterest for a global strategic partnership to scale creators, content series, and live streaming on Pinterest.
As Tastemade pins already generate more than 200% saves than average pins, this project aims to provide the platform users inspirational content experience through Idea Pins, new content franchises, and live streaming, with Pinterest’s and Tastemade’s Creators front and center.
With livestream videos, KOLs and influencers can give your brand a closer look by creating Q&A live video sessions. This adds the human elements and allows consumers to resolve their doubts in the video itself by chatting with you.
The potential of ‘live commerce” is not only from the genuine showcase of products, but also the actual engagement between fans and the approachable KOL.
KOL Marketing is all about using the authenticity and authority of the key opinion leader to legitimize your brand and build trust to convert consumers into customers.
Granted, there is more to learn when it comes to KOL marketing, such as building a KOL campaign or a more in-depth look at the search process for key opinion leaders.
If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out more from Advesa to keep up to date on the ever-changing world of digital marketing.