Using Key Opinion Leaders

KOLs can unlock new opportunities for your business in China.

Finding new ways to promote your products and services to consumers in China is always a good thing, as it diversifies your business and allows you to get ahead of your competition.

We’ve already talked about the benefits of advertising on Baidu, using WeChat to reach Chinese millennials, and we have created a beginner’s guide to using Weibo, but today, we’re going to share some of the reasons why you should consider using influencers, also known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), as part of your Chinese digital marketing strategy.

Taps into the mobile-first culture

Although Western consumers are using their smartphones more than ever before, nowhere else in the world is mobile more important than in China. A staggering 527 million people in China have added their credit card details to a payment provider, using their handheld devices to buy food, pay for train tickets, order everyday items, watch television, and more.

It makes sense, then, that Chinese app users spend more time on their smartphones than any other nation, with more than 225 billion app hours clocked up in 2017 alone. This intense level of mobile engagement makes it easier for businesses like yours to put your products and services in front of a whole new audience - and using KOLs is the best way to do so.

KOLs have managed to build up huge fanbases full of loyal, engaged consumers, which is why they’re so popular with brands across China. As consumers spend so much of their time on their smartphones, they’re exposed to messages from their favourite influencers at all times of the day, which means you can repeatedly spread the word about your products and capture the attention of new potential customers.

Helps you sell more products

We don’t need to remind you how popular sites like WeChat and Weibo are within China - combined, they attract billions of users every month. By working with a relevant KOLs, you can tap into their loyal fan bases and boost your social media presence within China, which not only allows you to reach more people with your marketing messages but sell more, too.

According to one report, 70% of China’s Generation Z said that they prefer to buy products on social media, rather than checking out an e-commerce store or buying on the brand’s site.

The best part is that, when a user discovers a new product in their WeChat feed that they’re interested in, they’re already in the right place to make a purchase. They can order products there and then using WeChat Pay, head to Dianping to check out reviews, follow the brand’s page on Weibo, or search for the best offers on Baidu. With the right marketing strategy and by developing a strong presence on all key networks and platforms, you can find lots of new customers and increase conversions when you use KOLs to promote your products.

Consumers want recommendations

In a time when 88% of consumers trust online recommendations as much as personal ones, working with an influencer in China who can show off your product to its audience makes sense. KOLs’ opinions and recommendations can be incredibly valuable, as they have powerful relationships with their followers, who often hang off of their every word. Every time they feature or recommend your product in one of their social media posts or videos, you’ll benefit from increased social exposure, clicks to your product page, and new followers.

More brands, both big and small, are beginning to see the benefits of partnering up with KOLs, and are moving away from traditional outbound marketing. The influence of a KOL is incredibly attractive, and with the right content strategy, a partnership can be lucrative.

You can pay for real influence

When your business partners with an influencer, you’re able to build trust and credibility with the KOL’s audience in a matter of moments - something no amount of content, social media, or billboard advertising could do on its own. However, it’s important that you carefully vet the KOLs you’d like to work with before doing so, a not all are as influential as they make out.

It’s important to remember that having a large following does not equate to having influence, so make sure that you analyse the influencer’s account before you hand over any money. An influencer marketing campaign will only work if the KOL has genuine influence and has built a level of trust with their audience - if engagement is low on their social media posts, they post too much content, or they have collaborated with lots of other brands, consumers will be less likely to see and interact with any sponsored content relating to your brand.

There’s little point in working with a KOL if they’re not trusted or respected within their niche, so look for a KOL that meets your target audience criteria and whose content will have a real impact on your sales, engagements, and brand awareness. Micro-influencers might be best.

Advertising is native

Native advertising invokes a stronger reaction from consumers than traditional advertising on social media or through banner adverts, so work with a KOL on WeChat who’ll write content in their usual style, and focus on your product as part of a wider piece.

Say you’re selling a new perfume, for example; a KOL could write a piece on what to pack when going travelling, and offer your product as a recommendation. As the content will be engaging and relevant to the KOL’s audience, the post will pick up more engagement and attention than a post that is nothing more than a fragrance advertisement.

A one-off advertorial with a KOL will also be much more cost-effective than a banner advertisement or social media promotion, meaning you can identify and partner with several influencers within your niche. However, you should also consider long-term partnerships…

Long-term partnerships build long-term customers

Finally, it’s important to note that short-term influencer marketing doesn’t always work and in some markets, short-term or one-off KOL campaigns can be damaging.

If you only work with an influencer once, then your content can feel like an advertisement, or your brand message can become misconstrued. What’s more, a single campaign means it can be tough to get the data you need to properly analyse your return on investment (ROI) - perhaps the influencers’ audience was busy studying for an exam? Flash in the pan adverts are good in some circumstances, but building genuine, long-term relationships makes sense.

When you work with a KOL on a long-term basis, they’ll get to know your brand and values, which will lead to higher quality content and more consistent levels of engagement. Finding an influencer who genuinely cares about your product also helps, as their content will feel more like an actual recommendation and less like a paid promotion, so it pays to look around and take your time when deciding on the right KOLs for your organisation.

Wrapping up

Finding key opinion leaders who are right for your brand can take time, but they can put your products in front of millions of potential customers and help you to dominate in your niche.

If you’re looking to enter China and get your brand in front of more customers, get in touch with Zudu’s Chinese digital marketing experts. You can call us on +44 (0)1382 690 080, or click here to send us a message on WeChat. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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