Greetings WeChat enthusiasts and welcome to our second edition of the ultimate WeChat advertising guide in which we’ll be discussing advertising through Key Opinion Leaders, commonly known as KOLs.
For those of you who didn’t check out last week’s article, we put together a helpful tutorial for setting up ads on WeChat Moments. If on the other hand you’ve been there, done that and want to achieve a better overall understanding of WeChat advertising, this week’s edition will help you determine why you should advertise through KOLs and more importantly where to find them.
Before diving into the methods you can use to find the ideal KOL for your product or brand, we’ll take things back a step and introduce the concept of KOLs to those of you out there who are less familiar with Chinese social media.
If instead you’ve been through enough KOL Powerpoint presentations to last you a lifetime, jump straight to part 3 where we’ll provide you with a selection of methods that we favor when searching for that perfect KOL.
Right, so let’s do this.
1) What are KOLs?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the acronym KOL refers to Key Opinion Leader. So what defines a Key Opinion leader on WeChat?
Simply put, WeChat Key Opinion Leaders are WeChat accounts that are influential in their niches and willing to talk about your brand in exchange for money or brand discounts.
What makes them so influential is their impressive number of followers and more importantly the high level of engagement their followers demonstrate.
That makes sense because after all, what’s the point of advertising through a WeChat account with thousands of followers if those followers don’t interact with your content?
If no one likes or comments on it, you can be sure no one’s going to share it. In which case you’ve just paid a KOL to post a piece of content that no one’s going to notice.
We can put KOLs into four separate categories:
- First of all, you’ve got your stars and celebrities. These are probably the most influential KOLs as they have millions of fans that like and share pretty much everything that their idols publish. But you guessed it, they’re also the most expensive!
- Moving on, you’ve got respected professionals that are seen as experts of their own professional fields. For instance, asking an esteemed member of the tech community to talk about the mobile phone you just released could do wonders for your own brand awareness.
- Then you’ve got your grassroots celebrities who became online revelations through personal branding.
- And finally verified organizations.
2) Why advertise through WeChat KOLs?
Advertising through influencers has been a standard marketing practice for some time now. For those of you who use Facebook or Twitter, you’ve certainly seen sponsored posts before. Perhaps you follow a video blogger or two on YouTube that sometimes promote products to their subscribers. In any case, it goes without saying that influencer marketing is nothing revolutionary.
What makes KOL advertising such an attractive option in China is the fact that Chinese consumers tend to trust influencers much more than they trust brands.
Due to the collectivist nature of China’s culture, these consumers’ buying decisions are heavily influenced by KOLs and reaching out to potential customers through influencers is by far the most effective way to gain their trust.
3) How to find WeChat KOLs for your business?
So this is where things get interesting. By now you understand that KOLs are social media influencers with thousands of engaged followers whose buying decisions are greatly impacted by the reviews of their favorite KOLs.
You therefore understand why advertising through KOLs is such an interesting advertising option on WeChat, but you still don’t know where or how to find them.
We’re now going to take you through several methods that we and other digital agencies use when looking for appropriate KOLs for a variety of brands.
A) Deep data method
Being part of the world’s largest social media landscape, it will come as no surprise to you that the Chinese have developed several social media search engines that allow you to filter through influential WeChat public accounts.
Here at Sekkei, we tend to use www.gsdata.cn to search for KOLs based on keywords related to the industry of the brand we’re representing.
GS Data and other similar social media search engines allow you to find the most influential WeChat public accounts by ranking them based on several factors such as number of followers, average number of impressions per post, average number of shares per post and so on.
Once you think you might have found the ideal KOL for your brand, you can click on their profile and take a look at their recent historical data as illustrated by the image below.
Or you can analyze that KOL’s credentials, post by post.
Once you’re convinced that that you’ve found a KOL with impressive engagement data to back up their number of followers, it’s up to you to contact them via WeChat or QQ in order to negotiate a price.
If you don’t yet know the market value of a specific type of KOL and prefer to receive quotes, you’ll prefer our second method.
B) Self-service method
We personally privilege the first method when looking for KOLs, but if instead you’re looking for a one-stop website on which you can filter through KOLs based on average prices and book your moment update in a few clicks, you’ll love www.newrank.cn.
So how do you book a KOL on Newrank.cn?
1) Open an Advertiser account (广告主).
2) Select your industry of interest and the budget you’re willing to invest. (This will allow Newrank to provide you with an estimation of the number of impressions you will get)
3) Upload your article to the platform.
4) Bid for the services of your preferred KOLs or make a public offer and wait for them to place bids.
5) Once an agreement is in place, the money is transferred to Newrank.
6) KOL posts the article and informs Newrank.
7) Newrank transfer the money to the KOL.
Although Newrank.cn is a practical solution that allows you to manage the whole process from A to Z, some marketers prefer to manually research KOLs in order to find cheaper alternatives. Indeed, KOLs on KOL platforms tend to be more expensive as they’re used to working with brands.
C) Weibo Search Method
The third and final method we’ll discuss in this article is searching for KOLs on Weibo.
1) Go to www.weibo.com.
2) Search for relevant keywords related to your industry (in this example, we searched for travel (旅游)).
3) Look through different posts and users until you find a KOL that posts content related to your industry with high engagement levels.
4) Once you’ve found the ideal KOL, go on their profile to find further info (number of followers and contact info).
5) Look through their post history to evaluate the engagement their posts generate.
6) Contact them to negotiate a price and VOILA!
Now that we’ve been over our 3 favorite KOL searching techniques, we suggest you give them all a try so as to evaluate the time required and average cost of each method.
Keep in mind that once you’ve worked with a KOL or two, you can always take advantage of their KOL network and ask to be referred to other influential KOLs in their niche market. Easy-peasy.
4) How much does it cost to advertise through WeChat KOLs?
It really depends on the KOL in question. Usually-speaking, an influential KOL will demand between 5 and 50 thousand RMB per message, but that really depends on their number of followers as well as the nature of your content. Very promotional content will set you back a bit more than your average article for instance.
50k is by no means the maximum though and celebrity KOLs will demand much more. As mentioned earlier on, a good way to test the waters is to upload an article on Newrank.cn and to make a public offer for bids.
5) What are the risks of advertising through WeChat KOLs?
The main risk of advertising through WeChat KOLs is that there are many fake WeChat advertising accounts out there, and they’re surprisingly difficult to detect.
These fake accounts steal great content from more influential accounts and use black-hat solutions to fake clicks and impressions.
The lesson to be learnt here is that it’s not because an account has impressive numbers and slick content that it’s a sure bet. It’s much better to take precautions so as to avoid ever making the mistake of working with a fake WeChat KOL.
So what precautions should I take?
1) Verify that the content is original using WeChat search and Sogou.
2) Make sure that you have direct contact with the KOL so as to communicate regarding their requirements. If they have tens of thousands of engaged followers but don’t mind posting a sales pitch, it’s probably too good to be true.
3) Dig into their historical post data in order to spot any inconsistencies.
4) Aim for KOLs with between 50 and 500k followers to be sure that they’re influential enough without being too pricey.
6) For which companies are WeChat KOLs an interesting option?
Overall, advertising through WeChat KOLs is an attractive advertising solution for all sorts of companies, big or small. There are thousands of KOLs out there and you’re bound to find one or more that post content related to your industry for a price within your budget.
Depending on the size of your company and the budget you’re willing to invest, the potential reach of your KOL advertising campaign will obviously differ.
That said, the disappointment surrounding WeChat’s own advertising solutions combined with the sheer popularity of WeChat KOLs points to a market-wide understanding that leveraging KOLs is quite simply the most effective way to advertise on WeChat.
Be sure to pass by next week as we’ll be looking at another advertising solution that WeChat launched a few months back, WeChat Coupon Ads.
Research sources: walkthechat.com & wemex.club