KOL Marketing Full Guide: How To Successfully Plan Your KOL Marketing Strategy
KOL marketing is fast becoming the preferred digital strategy of several brands for its distinctive capability to build trust and generate reach. But despite the information available on the internet about this increasingly popular marketing tactic, there is still a lot of unclarity around it.
To help you understand KOL marketing and answer the questions you might have about it, we’ve decided to compile this handy guide. Read on to find out more about KOLs, KOL marketing, its benefits, and the keys to a successful KOL-brand partnership.
Who Are KOLs?
The KOL acronym stands for “Key Opinion Leader”. KOLs are people who are deemed as experts in a specific field. These people are usually the ones tapped for interviews or sound bites when more information is needed on a specific topic. With the accessibility afforded by social media, KOLs are quickly becoming more visible on digital platforms. Their views and opinions are capable of influencing their audience’s thoughts and choices.
Due to their expertise and perceived authenticity, their audience tends to trust them and are likely to take their input into account when making decisions. This trust is further heightened when there’s constant engagement between the KOL and their followers.
What Is KOL Marketing?
KOL marketing involves partnering with opinion leaders to produce brand-related content. Besides being seen as authorities on their area of expertise, KOLs can also reach a specific interest group more easily. This makes KOL marketing a valuable strategy for brands looking to enhance their presence in a targeted market. Approximately 20 to 50% of purchasing decisions are influenced by word-of-mouth, and this statistic is aligned with the effect of the KOL opinions and recommendations on consumers..
When using a KOL marketing strategy, it’s important to match your brand with the right opinion leaders. They should be experts on a topic that’s relevant to your brand and target market. You must also consider their reach, as well as the level of engagement they get through their communication platforms. While a higher follower count may be attractive, this doesn’t necessarily translate to audience engagement. It sometimes happens that the more followers one has, the more difficult it is to maintain constant engagement. So, it’s important to look into the quality of interaction that KOLs have with their followers since a higher level of engagement implies a stronger connection with their audience.
Benefits of KOL Marketing
KOL marketing’s increasing popularity can be attributed to its noteworthy benefits:
Authority and authenticity are the two qualities often associated with KOLs. More weight is given to their opinions and recommendations. Thus, enlisting KOLs as part of your marketing strategy can give your brand added credibility, as the trust that they get from their audience can be extended to your brand. People are likely to also trust the brands that a person they believe in trusts.
- Brand awareness and equity
Your KOL’s audience will become your brand’s. This is especially helpful when you have a particular demographic or psychographic group that you want to reach. Instead of building an audience from scratch, you can get help from a key influencer who has already developed a following in your target market.
Brands can also benefit from certain KOL values, such as competence and integrity, be associated with them as well. This contributes long-term value to your brand equity and to consumers’ positive perception of your brand.
- Product promotion
Aside from enhancing the brand’s image, KOL marketing can also be utilized to promote any product or service that a company offers. Its positive impact on credibility, equity, and reach can also translate into sales. Consumers are more likely to purchase the products or services that the KOLs recommend.
Agency Tip: KOLs are also interested in brand partnerships, as these help them gain even more authority in their field. Also, for many KOLs, brand partnerships are an important source of income.
How Can Brands Partner with KOLs?
Partnerships with KOLs can be done in different ways, depending on the type of content you want to produce and the audience you need to reach. Some KOLs use various social media platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and Mixer. Each type of social media channel has its own unique features and appeal to certain audience types. Therefore, brands should note the relevant platforms to use and how to maximize them:
YouTube is a social media platform for videos. Brands can take advantage of it by partnering with KOLs in producing different types of video content, such as video ad integrations, pre-rolls, dedicated video reviews, unboxing, channel branding, and giveaway videos. In fact, 92% of the marketers who’ve teamed up with KOLs for YouTube content have agreed that it’s a very effective channel for marketing.
A 2018 study revealed that Instagram is surging in popularity due to the sense of community it fosters as well as the immediacy it generates. KOLs who thrive on this platform exhibit originality and uniqueness and are able to make the most of visual content. Visually appealing photo or video posts or real-life captures are some of the ways through which KOLs can promote brands in this platform.
TikTok is a short-form mobile video platform that is quickly gaining popularity due to its viral nature. Snackable and attention-grabbing videos can easily be shared across the world. Brands can be promoted by KOLs via short and catchy sponsored videos. But with the number of videos being produced daily, it’s important for brands and KOLs to come up with creative and entertaining content in order to stand out.
Twitch is a global streaming platform that’s very popular among gamers for video game broadcasts. It’s estimated that Twitch attracts more than 15 million active users daily. Audience engagement is also quite high on this platform, as it allows streamers to interact with their followers on their livestreams via chat. Partnerships with Twitch streamers can be maximized by producing content like sponsored streams, shoutouts during a stream, chatbot mentioning, and branding of the Twitch channel.
Mixer is a relatively new live-streaming platform that is gradually catching up with Twitch. Mixer is gaining popularity because it hosts a small community, which means the competition here is less fierce and new streamers have a better chance of attracting an audience. KOL content strategy on Mixer is pretty similar to Twitch’s, with sponsored streams, in-stream brand mentions, and incorporating the brand into the channel. However, Mixer has the added perk of featuring select streams on its home page, and your brand can benefit from the added exposure on the main page.
How to Plan a KOL Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve determined which demographic you’d like to reach and which social media platform is best suited to meet your marketing objectives, the next step is choosing your KOLs:
- Find the right KOLs
To get a suitable KOL, find out who is leading the talk in your brand’s category or who your target market is listening to. But while KOL popularity is important, it’s also crucial to select an influencer who embodies the values your brand seeks to project.
- Approach KOLs with a clear offer
Clarity is vital in any partnership proposal. When reaching out to prospective KOLs, provide them with a thorough but concise brief about your brand. Offer them an overview of what will be expected of them and what they can expect from the brand in return. KOLs are mostly always interested in partnerships, but they can be particular about which brands they’re open to collaborating with. Always be clear about the details and your intentions, so that you don’t waste your time or theirs.
Agency Tip: Make sure your offer is relatable to the KOL and their audience before reaching out to them with a partnership proposal. For instance, it won’t be wise to pitch junk food or sugary drinks to a health-conscious KOL. Make sure to look into the KOL’s interests and preferences before contacting them.
- Sign an agreement with a KOL
Putting all the terms that you and your KOL have agreed on in a formal document is a very important step, as this will not only clearly lay out what both parties want from the partnership, but also protect your brand, should the KOL renege on the agreement for any reason. Having a binding legal document helps assure that both parties will fulfill their end of the bargain and will abide by the arranged conditions.
- Brief the KOL
Provide your KOL with a detailed description of your expectations for branded content. KOL marketing briefs usually include a project overview, an itemization of deliverables, the brand assets and creative guidelines to use, the deadlines to meet, and other content requirements. A good brief would aid in ensuring that the KOL would share accurate information and that the objectives of the marketing campaign will be met.
- Review the content before it’s published
Check your KOL’s branded content before they publish it so you can verify if the material is aligned with the brief, with your brand, and with your campaign objectives. If revisions are needed, make sure to communicate them clearly with the KOL.
- Measure the results of your KOL marketing campaign
After content has been published, monitor the results and adequately assess the campaign’s success. This will allow you to gather insights on the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign, which you can use to improve your next KOL marketing endeavors.
Changes in social metrics are recently being made in various social media platforms, like the hiding of the live count on YouTube, the Likes on Instagram, the reactions on Facebook, and more. While this initially seems to make the assessment of campaign performance harder, it can actually lead to a more insightful measurement by taking a deeper look and applying technology like APIs.
KOL marketing can be a powerful marketing strategy when properly planned and executed. Brands that use this strategy can effectively enhance awareness and equity. KOLs are trusted by their audience and can, therefore, influence their consumer decisions. KOLs also have a particular niche, so brands that seek to target a specific demographic can hyper-focus their marketing efforts via relevant KOLs.
We hope you found this KOL marketing guide useful. If you have any questions or if you want to learn more about employing this strategy, send us a message.