Marketing specialist 1: I’m implementing KOL marketing into my marketing campaign.
Marketing specialist 2: Yeah, we’re collaborating with famous vloggers as well.
Marketing specialist 1: You have no idea what I’m talking about, huh?
Marketing specialist 2: What?
Marketing specialist 1: Okay, let me explain.
If you know:
- What KOL is and what it stands for
- The Difference between KOLs and Influencers
- What the benefits of KOL marketing are
- How to choose the right KOLs
You can exit this article and continue scrolling your TikTok For You Page. Everyone else, you better start taking notes.
What is KOL and what does it stand for?
No fangirls, it’s not Kings of Leon. KOL stands for key opinion leader. Basically, they are the type of people you’ll trust based on their expertise and knowledge of a certain topic. Ever hear about appeal to authority? Sometimes we don’t judge the content of what we hear but look at who is saying it.
KOLs are the best way to make the most out of word-of-mouth marketing. They are trustworthy in their field due to their experience and accomplishments in their specialty. They cover a specific niche and often have a super targeted audience interested in that topic.
Quite often key opinion leaders represent certain fields that require specific education, experience, and qualifications. Some examples are:
- Financial advisers
Nobody would give better legal consultation than a respectful lawyer working for a well-known agency that has a blog where they share their experiences and knowledge. So, if you’re trying to raise awareness for any legal issue, key opinion leaders would be the best choice to go with.
If people follow them then chances are they’d be more interested in what you want to share than if you had the same post on a famous influencer page.
Marketing specialist 2: Wai.. wait, aren’t influencers and key opinion leaders the same thing?
Marketing specialist 1: Are all fruits apples? Let me explain…
KOLs and Influencers: What’s the difference?
The terms “influencer” and “key opinion leader” are quite close but not the same. People might follow influencers for the sole fact that everyone else follows them. Meanwhile, they follow Key opinion leaders because they trust them and their expertise.
Here are some other factors that differ between influencers and KOLs:
KOLs have a full-time job.
Unlike influencers, key opinion leaders do not earn their living off of influencer collaborations with brands. They usually have professional careers or are retired and just share what they have learned.
Key opinion leaders are professionals.
Their qualifications make their opinions on this or that topic relevant to their niche much more valuable and credible.
Influencers are only as powerful as the number of followers they have on social media. KOLs however usually have fewer followers than a micro-influencer. However, their input in your campaign holds greater weight than that of an influencer with millions of followers who isn’t qualified to give advice on that topic.
KOLs Teach, Influencers Sell
When does a KOL become an influencer? As soon as they start promoting a product to their audience. KOLs want to keep their content related to their field so make sure your product aligns with their views.
Marketing specialist 2: Got it. But still, why should I go with a KOL with 4602 followers when I can have access to the hundreds of thousands of followers of an influencer?
Marketing specialist 1: Let me quickly go over the benefits of KOL marketing.
What are the benefits of KOL marketing?
Why is this marketing channel more effective? Because it’s:
Collaboration with key opinion leaders is way cheaper than that of other influencers. If you have worked with influencers before, you know it’s the big names with large followings that make the big bucks. Those who have small followings like KOLs and micro influencers are much more affordable and tend to have lots of wiggle room.
What is cheaper than free? KOLs love to share what’s best for their audience. So if they find your product useful, they might even share it for free or with an affiliate link.
Higher conversion rate
As I have stated over and over, a key opinion leader gives more credibility to your brand. You will see much higher conversion rates than in the case of an influencer or traditional marketing. The principal reason is the targeted audience. The audience of a KOL is more interested and invested in the niche, so having more conversions with less traffic is something you should look forward to in KOL marketing.
Higher ROI (Return on Investment)
People see KOLs as some sort of a filter for all the advertising they see online. So when they find a recommendation from a key opinion leader, they’re more likely to convert. So considering that the cost of reaching their audience was much lower, you should expect a higher Return on Investment.
Marketing specialist 2: I mean… This is really great! So where do I start?
Marketing specialist 1: Patience!
How to find and choose the right KOLs?
So we established that KOL marketing is something worth investing in. But where and how should you start? What are the main criteria used when considering the right fit? Well, here is what I have figured out.
First thing first, dig deeper into your own customers. Understanding them from A to Z is the key. It’s like trying to buy a present. You can always get them a gift card and not stress over the huge choice. BUT! You can also try to understand their specific characteristics, desires, and emotions and get them something so personalized, that they’d be forever grateful.
The same is with KOLs! You can always go with the low-hanging fruit: no effort on customer analysis, just follow standard procedure and hope for the best. Or you can analyze your potential clients and choose just that right KOL for them whose influence will be more valuable and impactful than the words of other influencers.
Based on your insights from the previous step and the specifications of your product, you should start with identifying the platform your customers would go to for “advice”. Is it Twitter? Instagram? Or maybe even TikTok?
While there is a lot of overlap, each social media platform has its defining characteristics and has its own segmented communities within the platform. For example, if a millennial wants to buy anything lifestyle-related, they will head straight to Youtube for a review, whereas Gen Z would rather scroll through TikTok recommendations.
Video view on TikTok for #makeupreview
So, the bottom line is to look for key opinion leaders based on where your customers would search for them.
Marketing Specialist 2: Ok so I know what platform to look for KOLs, do I just jump in?
Marketing Specialist 1: Unless you want to spend hours combing through content, I suggest you use some tools and tactics…
Keywords are key. Make sure to move forward with searching relevant industry hashtags and keywords. Starting off manually searching for anything related to your topic and follow the suggestions the platform makes. After finding a couple of relevant key opinion leaders, track their other posts for more hashtags.
When it comes to tools, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Keywords Everywhere is my personal favorite. It’s an extension for both Chrome and Firefox that not only suggests related keywords on Google and YouTube but also provides you with trend charts, YouTube insights, and tags, analyzes any URL to get the list of keywords in the content of the page and a lot more.
The beauty of simplicity. Everyone’s googling first to find what they want to buy. So be a step ahead and contact the KOLs who appear in the search results when you’re searching for your relevant keywords.
Interviews and media coverages
Step 1: Find credible industry media coverages
Step 2: Scrap everyone mentioned there.
We got 3 options to reach out to here: the interviewer who is covering the topic and has enough information and knowledge about it; the interviewees for obvious reasons, and the authors of content references in the article as an insightful and credible source to refer to.
All these people are your potential key opinion leaders.
Marketing specialists 1: So, this was the most essenti…
Marketing specialists 2: SSHHH! I’m way ahead of you. I’m already diving into implementing KOL marketing strategies and I think I found the perfect one.
Ok class, so what did we learn today? We covered what KOLs are, how they are different from traditional influencers, in what cases it is more effective to use KOL marketing, and most importantly how to identify and find them.
If any of you has any experience marketing with KOLs, do not hesitate to share it with us. Opinions and questions are warmly welcome. Let us know in the comments people!