As the world continues to witness a surge in digital consumption and social media adoption, brands have been increasingly turning to KOL marketing as a strategy to reach their audience on social media. And for a good reason: In the face of tough competition, having a trusted voice championing one’s brand can go a long way towards building a loyal customer base. After all, KOLs – or key opinion leaders – have established themselves as experts for specific topics, so consumers are more inclined to find branded content more credible and targeted. Given their expertise and perceived authority in a particular area, KOLs also have the power to influence consumers’ buying choices and shape people’s perception of brands.
But while KOL marketing is not an entirely new concept, the evolution of social media platforms over the years – with the influx of new features and platforms like TikTok – has made it necessary for brands to reassess and relook existing KOL marketing tactics. Are brands really reaping the benefits of KOL marketing or merely scratching the surface? Most brands today remain siloed in their approach – viewing KOL marketing with a tunnel vision, without considering the rest of the elements in the marketing mix. And unfortunately, this results in brands failing to optimise the full potential of KOL marketing – resulting in their inability to reach the ultimate goal of conversion.
KOL marketing is not meant to operate in a vacuum. The true potential of KOL marketing can only be realised if viewed with other components in the marketing mix in mind. One mistake that most marketers commonly commit is failing to align their social media marketing with KOL marketing, and this results in messaging inconsistencies, which won’t bode well if your brand’s goal is to win your consumers’ trust. There should be a cohesive message delivered across your platforms – or the dissonance could have a grave impact on your brand’s reputation.
The real value of KOL marketing lies in its potential in taking brands from brand association to consideration, to conversion. And this is a delicate process – one that can easily go the other way, if not done strategically: A KOL marketing campaign done wrong has the potential to attract attention and go virtual for the wrong reasons. It can be a comms nightmare waking up one day to find out that your brand has become a laughing stock due to a bad KOL marketing strategy. Simply using the wrong KOL can wipe out your brand’s credibility overnight – and this could oftentimes take a significant amount of time and effort to rebuild.
How do you know if you are choosing the right KOL for a marketing communications campaign you have in mind? It boils down to proper research, a thorough understanding of your brand’s identity, and well-defined brand goals. When evaluating KOLs, brands should consider both intangible and tangible elements:
What is the profile of your KOL’s followers in terms of relevance to your objectives? Who is your KOL’s target audience? If your brand is targeting a particular demographic, make sure that you have done your research thoroughly: If your KOL caters to a different audience than the segment your brand is particularly keen on targeting, then there’s a demographic misfit. It won’t be relevant to engage the KOL you have in mind – you will just be draining your company’s coffers instead of delivering optimal ROI.
Gauge the kind of reactions KOLs receive for their content. It can tell you a lot about the KOLs’ level of perceived credibility – and how respected their opinions are by your target market. Check out some of the campaigns these KOLs have done in the past: Are there lukewarm or negative comments and reactions from followers? Do the negative comments outweigh the positive? Evaluate before taking the leap.
Check out the KOL’s lifestyle – does it fit your brand’s personality? A KOL’s feed is a powerful visual storytelling tool that captures consistent themes while showcasing a particular KOL’s lifestyle. Make sure that your products fit into your KOL’s story naturally – so the products don’t look out of place or seem forced into the KOL’s story. There should be a flow and consistency – a natural segue as your products come into the picture.
Sometimes it is difficult to nail down an ideal fit but a lot of these qualifiers are based on a mix of logical deduction and looking for a specialist who has experience in this area of work.
For our recent LIVENow campaign, we engaged influencers with targeted followers in
Singapore’s football community – including ex-ESPN Star Sports host Kelly Latimer – to drive hyper-targeted awareness among football fans.
Does your KOL align with your brand’s values? Do not make the mistake of engaging a KOL just because he or she has a number of followers. Although some of the KOL’s followers may be in the demographic you’re keen to target, it will still be a marketing mishap to engage a KOL in a brand campaign promoting a product that doesn’t suit the KOL in his or her current life stage. You wouldn’t want to get a young KOL to promote an anti-ageing product. You will simply lose credibility in the eyes of the public. On the other hand, as a good example, a new parent would be the ideal KOL for baby products.
As a general rule of thumb: Don’t make the mistake of losing sight of the big picture.To drive optimal KOL marketing campaigns, you need to see how your KOL marketing strategies align with the rest of your other marketing initiatives. Don’t be too rash in engaging KOLs – or your KOL marketing strategy will simply fail to achieve the desired results.
PRecious has developed an optimal formula for KOL marketing – that has benefitted a range of clients. Hit us up to explore how we can help you crack a winning KOL marketing strategy to amplify your campaigns.