If you notice the rising trend of influencers promoting big brands, you are not alone! Many companies have understood the power of influencers in marketing. Known as the Key Opinion Leaders or KOL marketing, this strategy has developed into a unique industry. Influencers can affect how the customers perceive your brand, leading to conversions and profits.
Defining KOL Marketing
Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are people whose opinions are highly valued regarding certain products. KOL marketing uses the influencing power of these people to market products and services. Key Opinion Leaders are usually experts in related fields; people who can supposedly give "expert reviews" for those products.
For example, an oral product manufacturer may partner with dentists that could describe their products in more convincing ways. These dentists are the KOL for the manufacturer. However, the modern definition of KOL has shifted with the coming of social media. Nowadays, people view KOL as "influencers", who have a widespread and popular online presence.
Experts who don't have an online presence have smaller chances of attracting customers than those with more popularity. For example, British chef Jamie Oliver has a strong social media presence, which he uses to promote Tesco cooking products. Because of his expertise, cooking product ads look more authentic, therefore attractive to customers.
Good Reasons to Use KOL Marketing
The influencer industry shows a lot of potentials for successful digital marketing strategies. There are several reasons why this strategy brings positive impacts, such as:
· Stronger Emotional Responses
An emotional connection is a strong motivation for customers to buy certain products. Marketing campaigns that create positive emotions, such as happiness or amusement, drive people to share them. Influencers have "just like us" appearances that cater to specific demography. They have great potentials to boost the emotional influence in marketing.
· More Assurance in Shopping Decision
Influencers with “expert” labels (or experts that happen to be influencers, like Jamie Oliver) can assure customers to buy certain products. Brands such as Nike and Memebox also use popular influencers who are experts in their fields, like athlete Colin Kaepernick and Korean beauty blogger Pony (respectively).
· Cheaper Marketing Cost
Partnership with influencers helps to reduce marketing costs. Companies can depend on the influencers' channels (Instagram, blogs, websites, Twitter) to spread the campaign. The word-to-mouth between the influencers' social media followers can multiply the effect, resulting in more popularity for the brand.
· Inviting by Projecting Dream Lifestyle
Influencers use social media posts and images to project a specific lifestyle, a strategy that many companies use in promoting their products. Using influencers helps to reflect that ideal lifestyle in a more "relatable" way. For example, Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni builds an image of a luxurious lifestyle, and products that she endorses reflect it.
· Developing Better Brand Advocacy
Personal or word-to-mouth share is effective to grow authentic brand advocacy. Companies can do this by encouraging loyal customers to share their experiences. In this case, loyal customers are the KOL among their circles, because they understand the product performances/qualities.
Examples of KOL Marketing in the US
Here are several successful KOL marketing strategies in the US that you can learn from:
· M&M’s New Flavor Vote (2016)
M&M’s urged consumers to vote for a new flavor in 2016. The company hired actor Tony Hale and nine influencers to spread the message, using creative social media photos and hashtag #MMSFlavorVote. The influencers use technology such as geotagging to spread the campaign. The campaign resulted in 14.4 million online engagements and a new flavor (coffee nut).
· Google’s Pixelbook Campaign with The Sorry Girls (2017)
Google worked with micro-influencers to promote Pixelbook in 2017. The company worked with The Sorry Girls, an Instagram duo that creates DIY craft content. Using the duo's status as micro-influencers, Google encouraged followers to create personal posts about using Pixelbook for creative projects. One giveaway post reached more than 56 percent of online engagements.
· Microsoft’s Make What’s Next (2018)
Microsoft created Make What’s Next campaign to encourage girls and women to enter the field of STEM. Microsoft partnered with National Geographic photographers to create 30 images of female inventors, researchers, and experts around the world. The photos were featured in National Geographic’s Instagram accounts, and followers were encouraged to share. The campaign images received 3.5 million daily views.
Examples of KOL Marketing in Indonesia
To establish their products as the best halal beauty products in Indonesia, Wardah has worked with several KOLs, from micro influencers and beauty vloggers to celebrities such as Raline Shah, Suhay Salim, Ayana Moon, and Mesty Ariotedjo. These KOLs conveyed the message that Wardah products are halal and great for Indonesian women.
To boost its campaigns, Shopee has worked with Prilly Latuconsina, Ariel Tatum, and Via Vallen. These celebrities help Shopee raise awareness of its tactical campaigns and gain more customers.
Traveloka has been working with Alexander Thian or Amrazing, a travel influencer on Twitter and Instagram, to promote their services. They have utilized his storytelling and photography skills to promote various domestic and international travel destinations to his followers while mentioning Traveloka in his posts.
KOL marketing has evolved into new models in the digital era. Consider using Key Opinion Leaders to increase engagements and brand advocacy, starting from micro-influencers.