In the race to go digital – while pursuing likes, shares, followers, clicks and reposts – it’s vital for brands to make sure that they have a diversified Key Opinion Leader (KOL) campaign strategy. The concept behind the influencer industry is far from new with celebrities providing an extra shove to a brand’s reputation. Brands expect to see results when they partner with KOLs, which is why it can feel defeating when expensive campaigns result in low sales generation. Traditional e-commerce platforms like Taobao and JD are converging with social, while social platforms like WeChat and Weibo are integrating with e-commerce. When it comes to marketing to China, platforms and marketing approaches are constantly evolving, which is why we’ve come up with some KOL tactics to maximize your marketing potential for this year.
Make Room for New Retail O2O Marketing
China’s Gen Z consumers rely heavily on social media for shopping and 31% of them prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. Many Chinese shoppers use chat tools and social media for product reviews, but also enjoy the value of an in-person shopping experience with the ability to touch a product. This also includes consumers visiting a store to check out what they want to purchase, then going online to find out more about the product and purchasing the product through an e-commerce platform. KOLs can be a great option for brands that want to market pop-up stores or host special events with consumer incentives. Another great way brands can drive foot traffic is by giving influencers exclusive coupons that could include things like loyalty program benefits or special offers that consumers can only redeem by going to a physical store location.
Take Advantage of Search Engine Optimization
Brands tend to understand that KOL marketing is a powerful tool, but don’t realize how much marketing potential they lose by not developing a KOL campaign that includes search engine optimization. Not utilizing the full extent of search engine optimization can be a significant loss in gaining new customers. The best social platforms for search engine optimization in China are Xiaohongshu and Weibo. Posts from both platforms are indexed by Baidu, which can have a huge market reach for brand exposure. This method of optimization has the potential to take over traditional forms of SEO practices. Chinese consumers often choose browsing products on social media platforms over mobile search engine browsers. WeChat is also gaining a lot of traction by utilizing their internal search engine for brand zone search. Brands can take advantage of these platforms by determining specific keywords to target and confirming that the keywords are used throughout the messages and articles that KOLs post.
Get Involved with KOLs on E-commerce
The growth of China’s e-commerce on a global scale has led to brands worldwide adapting to succeed in this unique market-place. Platforms like Douyin, WeChat and Xiaohongshu are taking big strides towards e-commerce with most social media platforms in China having a seamless linking function with e-commerce sites like JD, Tmall and Taobao. Douyin now offers the opportunity to launch pop-up shops with in app purchases. This drive towards e-commerce among social startups means both competition and promotion for the well-known e-commerce platforms, and brands may have to set up shop in a variety of locations to be fully competitive. Taobao has also integrated product reviews from Xiaohongshu influencers on brands’ official product pages. E-commerce linking is becoming a game changer and brands shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to collaborate with KOLs that work directly on these e-commerce platforms.
Don’t Forget About Micro-Influencers
Just because a KOL has hundreds of thousands, or millions, of followers doesn’t necessarily mean that the campaign will have a more significant impact than if a brand works with a micro-influencer with fewer followers. Micro-influencers tend to have a smaller, but more loyal fan base. This path could be more effective for brands to reach their target audience. Micro KOLs are a key component of a brand’s overall KOL campaign, and can be more effective when trying to reach Gen Z consumers. Chinese consumers long for personalized identities and crave the niche expertise a micro KOL can offer. Unlike the big celebrity KOLs, micro KOLs are typically experts on a specific subject and tend to have an audience with very similar traits and interests. They’re great for when a brand is going after consumers in a specific niche. They are often perceived as more authentic and they promote brands less frequently, so it’s hard for market to become saturated. They also won’t promote something they don’t resonate with and they are way cheaper than top-tier KOLs.
Selecting the right KOL is crucial for brands because in a way they are seen as the face of a brand during the marketing campaign while playing a vital role in adding product exposure. KOLs need to have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the brand and appeal to the target audience. They must be emotionally engaging, convincing and motivating or else their impact with fans won’t be seen as authentic. KOLs are also not limited to big brands and businesses with large budgets. With some creativity, small businesses can also incorporate them into their marketing plans. If your business needs more insight on the best KOL tactics for this year, get in touch with us and we’ll help you create a tailor-made and effective KOL marketing campaign.