What Is a KOL And How To Find Them

KOL marketing is a potent sales tool. According to RAKUTEN, 80% of consumers say they are more likely to trust personal recommendations from Influencers rather than advertisements.

74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key element in their purchasing decisions. Word of mouth is 115% more influential than traditional advertising.

You may see an increase in sales if your most loyal customers tell their friends and family about your business. But what if you could amplify the power of word of mouth to reach even more potential customers? To do this, you can use a marketing technique that leverages Key Opinion Leaders.

What is a “Key Opinion Leader”?

A Key Opinion Leader, or KOL, refers to a small group of people who specialize in a specific area of interest, becoming experts on certain topics. For this reason, they are also known as micro-influencers. These individuals have attained a high degree of trust expressed by a more specific audience.

Despite managing a smaller audience, utilizing KOL’s has proven to be an incredibly powerful marketing strategy. KOL’s tend to establish a closer, more direct, and loyal relationship with their audience. These characteristics allow them to communicate the preferences and opinions of their audience.

You are likely familiar with influencers, and given the concept of KOL’s, you may be thinking that they are one and the same. But they are not.

The credibility KOLs possess comes from both the time they spend on a topic, their direct experience in an industry, and the professional qualifications they have obtained.

Although there are certain similarities between KOLs and influencers, they are not synonymous, and you must understand this difference. If you are looking to reach a specific demographic, you should consider including KOLs in your marketing strategies. You can even use software tools like Influsoft to manage and optimize your KOL marketing campaigns correctly.

How To Find a KOL

Key Opinion Leaders have a very high level of influence. They are even capable of changing perceptions, ideas, or opinions expressed among their colleagues. The search for the perfect KOL is a delicate process that must be handled with tact.

Here are some steps to help you choose the right opinion leader for your marketing efforts:

Sector & Audience

When searching for a KOL, the first aspects you must consider are the sector they deal with, the platform they work on, and, consequently, their audience. It’s pretty evident that choosing a famous travel blogger as a promoter for beauty products would not be the wisest move. Not only would your customers and their followers not understand the meaning of the collaboration, but you also would not reach your target audience.

Therefore, you must identify your potential customers and note the type of audience that a particular KOL appeals to. When vetting through potential KOLs, you need to select an individual with followers who align with your target audience.

Fake Followers & Engagement

Suppose you notice that a KOL has thousands of followers but very few comments and likes. In this instance, you should probably avoid them. This is often a sign that the KOL has bought its followers. It has recently become common for a KOL to buy followers to increase their notoriety. The scary thing is that even KOL’s that are well known sometimes participate in this unsavory practice.

To ensure the KOL’s authenticity, it is not enough to simply look at the number of followers, likes, or comments they have. You must also take the interactions with his/her followers into account. If a KOL has a high engagement rate, he/she can influence his/her followers’ choices.

Depending on your brand’s communication goals, you should aim to work with influential people with a medium to large-sized audience. Look for KOL’s who interact and communicate with their followers. Compare the number of likes, shares, and comments with the total number of followers they have online to determine if their followers are real or not. If their engagement rate doesn’t seem right compared to their audience’s size, it’s probably not.

Online and Offline Reputation

The KOL you choose to partner with should also be known (positively, of course) in the real world, not only online. Ideally, you want to find a KOL that can promote your brand both online and offline. You want to ensure that your KOL has the same image and behavior in both their online and offline activities. If their online image differs from their real-life actions, it could actually damage your company's image. Be careful and ensure that you dig into who a KOL is, even when the cameras aren’t running.

Marketing with Key Opinion Leaders is an ideal way to reach your target customers. However, it is equally important to choose the right KOL’s to implement a successful marketing strategy and influence potential customers to purchase your product.

Remember that the KOL you choose will be representing your brand and your products. Do your research on the person behind the screen and find out if they have been involved in anything that could potentially be harmful to your business. A KOL’s reputation is critical, as it affects the consumers’ opinion of your brand and is instrumental in building a sense of trust with your potential customers.