Over the past few years, brands and marketers have transformed how they manage their communications and marketing. While it remains important to identify target channels through relevant media, publications and formats – brands and marketers have taken it up a notch, to direct their attention to a multitude of potential key opinion leaders (KOLs) and sources, seeking them out to leverage on their following of fans and readers.
The idea using KOLs to influence demand and enhance targeted communication is not a new concept, but in the digital age of information-saturation – consumers increasingly look to reviews, endorsements and validation of trusted experts or public figures, that are non-celebrities, to help filter through the clutter in their decision making process.
We have seen the rise and successes of columnists, socialites, bloggers, and popular Twitter personalities successfully grow an audience of followers within the digital realm, with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and personal Blogs (or all platforms) – giving them a level of influence perhaps greater than the mass media, on a wide range of topics.
Developing an effective and scalable KOL engagement strategy is increasingly important to expand the reach of communications; connect to a targeted segment of consumers based on demographics, psychographics and lifestyle choices; differentiating your business form the competitors; stretch your marketing dollar without splashing it out on celebrity endorsements and most significantly, to create trust with different segments of consumers using the enhanced influencer validation, to reduce barriers to sales and conversion.
In our post, we will examine the ways in which brands and marketers can engage KOLs, and how KOL Marketing can work alongside to support other core marketing tools and channels such as Social Media, SEO and Digital Advertising and PR.
Develop a KOL engagement strategy:
Working with key opinion leaders needs to contribute to your overall marketing communications strategic framework. It is important to plan and develop an approach to identify relevant KOLs and understand their needs, interests and audiences to create a sustainable long-term relationship that creates value for both parties. Developing your KOL engagement strategy in this will help resonate with individual influencers, their own unique personalities, brands – which in turn will improve the success rates of your activity and KOL efforts.
Identify the Right KOLs for your Brand and Business:
Identify who you want to build relationships with and ensure there is a good fit between your brand or messages and the personal brand, audience and area of influence of the people your are targeting. While its is important to look to the number of followers or fan base of KOLs as indicators, the qualitative aspect is also critical, as it will strongly impact on the type and profiles of audience, and how you can build brand loyalty and conversions over time.
Identifying the right KOLs is an ongoing process and as you build networks of industry influencers, you will meet and connect with more over time. After you have developed your initial list of KOLs, evaluate and refine who will be right for your brand, and monitor KOLs already in your network or those mentioning your brand, and plan a content strategy to share and engage with them and their audiences.
Understand the Audiences and Communities of KOLs:
Key Opinion Leaders are influential and have reach because they have built an audience and community of followers that enjoys reading their opinions, or shares similar interests. KOLs generally play multiple roles as bloggers, editor and critiques on a subject matter, and are increasingly more compelling than traditional journalists.
KOLs need to keep their audiences happy and are more discerning towards the interests of their followers, than promoting your brand. Rather than using push tactics to sell your brand and products/services, support the KOLS in finding engaging ways to help them better connect with their audience. This will dramatically improve your success rate and quality of relationships with your target KOLs.
Create Compelling Content and Experiences:
Like PR, KOL marketing is about building reach, rather than paying through marketing dollars – but that doesn’t mean success comes for free. Creating compelling content, with useful information, and engaging with audience with experiences and events are critical to keeping the relationship alive.
Build Ongoing Relationships:
Brand and marketers often forget that like any other relationships in life, engaging with KOLs should be an ongoing process. Be sincere in your approach in nurturing and supporting them regularly with interesting content and experiences, rather than only contacting them when you have a campaign or product/service to ‘push’. All ongoing relationships are reciprocal so make an effort to focus on your KOLs’ unique passions, interests, personalities and audience.
KOL marketing requires a focused strategy, creativity, and investment on an ongoing basis. It is important to keep in mind that KOL marketing ultimately about creating and exchanging value between your brand and the people you to connect to within the KOLs’ audiences and networks.
We believe that these are some KOL Marketing approaches to help you get started to support your marketing plan and improve your chances of success. We have worked with global and local brands with highly influential KOLs using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Bloggers in the healthcare, beauty, fashion and luxury sectors for KOL Marketing and if you would like to learn more about working with KOLs, do contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +852 2831 1888 today for a consultation.