China KOL Strategy


Influencer marketing is a pivotal element in brand communications in China market as social media platforms are playing a dominant role in the life of Chinese consumers.

Influencers, or known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are becoming more powerful than traditional mass media because they have not only a bigger audience base, but a deeper and more intimate connection with the audience as well.

KOLs are popular social media content creators who produce widely-spread viral contents and build a large fan base on social media platforms. They are lifestyle advocates, knowledge distributors, and fun/entertainment providers. Their contents often can resonate with followers at a deep level and their opinions or preference on certain products can 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 guarantee for sure win. Here are some tips that we think might help to guide you in the labyrinth of KOL marketing.

1. Make KOL relevant to your product

The power of KOLs comes from the trusting relationship between KOLs and their followers. Do not confuse KOL marketing with celebrity endorsement. Any commercial trace in KOL marketing will compromise KOLs’ intimate connection with their followers. The first thing in KOL marketing is to identify KOLs who are relevant to your brand or product. Before signing a KOL, do 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 he/she 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 keen sense on color selling 100 limited edition mini, painted in a rare turquoise hue called the Caribbean Aqua, in just 5 minutes.

2. Empower your KOL with exclusivity

Exclusivity is one of the key drivers in today’s social context. Things like exclusive offer, customized edition are not just offering transactional discount, but a kind of social currency to the receivers as well. And these can help KOLs to bond with their followers with real value linked to your brand or product. Brands can empower KOLs with special offer, exclusive coupon, follower-only experience, even limited editions co-branded with KOLs to effectively maximize conversion, and furthermore, motivate followers to share and spread your content.

3. Leverage the power of SEO

Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Little Red Book, Weibo etc. use either internal search engine or Baidu to offer brand/product key word search. Chinese consumers are accustomed to search and browse products directly on social media or Ecommerce platforms. Therefore, it is crucial for brands to leverage search engine optimization in their KOL campaigns on these platforms. For example, brands can target certain key words and make sure these key words are frequently used throughout the contents posted by KOLs.

4. Be smart to choose the right KOL mix

The size of fan base is not the sole criterion for an impactful KOL campaign. And it certainly does not guarantee success. Micro influencers who has fewer followers sometimes can be more effective in converting sales because their followers are normally more loyal and have greater interest in the KOL’s field. This kind of strong bonding between the KOL and followers can often be more effective especially in conversion than KOLs who have huge fan base and much higher price. Marketers do need to consider the task you want to achieve. To build awareness or stimulate conversion, to spread reputation or establish a clearer and sharper image, you need to pick different KOLs to achieve different tasks. Always choose a mix of KOLs according to your priority of goals to maximize your campaign impact.