Chinese KOL (influencers) can ask 1000$ to 1,000,000$ for one post…. It is a really booming industry. In this article, we will tell you about the KOL (Key Opinion Leader) industry in China, and how to make a lot of money and get rich from it!
OVERVIEW OF THE KOL INDUSTRY IN CHINA
Before going further, let’s define what’s a KOL
Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are popular social media users who use to create a buzz or any viral content while generating a large following on social media platforms. Most of them operate in a field in which they have certain expertise. They’ll, therefore, create a personal connection with fans while sharing advice, reviews, instructions, or tips about lifestyle subjects, brands, trips, or products.
In China, KOLs have a much stronger influence than in any other country. And they can generate millions of followers who trust their advice and actively engage with the daily content they create.
Now, let’s get further.
You may have seen a lot of teenagers in your country or on social media trying their best to be as much popular as possible. And in China, it’s a real business model. These mega-popular influencers are called “wings” in Chinese. And they have such power that they can literally serve as brand ambassadors and make a fortune from it…
They basically educate Chinese consumer about overseas products, represents local brands, or demonstrate a very particular lifestyle following the trends code of the country.
And because more and more international products grow in importance among Chinese consumers, some E-commerce platforms such as Tmall gets ready to use KOL at a new level. In China, “influencer incubators” are coming.
Do you have to be Chinese to be an influencer in China?
And that’s good news for you. Many foreigners get successful as an influencer in China. They may have distinctive advantages, may be curious about Chinese culture, famous abroad, or just funny… you can find your own opportunity in China and start influencing people.
Kim Kardashian West, the reality TV Star/businesswoman, and social media icon did a Livestream with a Chinese top key opinion leader: Viya Huang. Through this operation, she managed to get 13 million viewers to mark her cooperation with the cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall Global, but also sold out her stock of perfume “KKW”. The more you’re famous and the richer you are, the richer and the more popular you become…
But ok… maybe you’ll think it’s easy for her. She already got all the fame she needs to be demanded overseas.
What about him?
Quentin, a nice French guy coming from Montpellier, who turned out to be a superstar in China in only 4 years?
He got now has over 15 million views on Chinese social media such as Weibo and WeChat. And for his first video, he managed 80 million views!! A real buzz, while just talking about how difficult it is to learn Chinese for a foreigner. 80 million… common. Impressive isn’t it? And you know what? He did even more.
In 2017, the Frenchy made up a video addressing Pony Ma, Tencent’s CEO, to tell him how much WeChat would be appreciated in France. A simple video. A simple message. And 1 billion views! He’s what we call a mega-superstar in China. And remember, he needed just 4 years.
From now, international brands facing difficulties to penetrate the Chinese market are calling after him for endorsement or just to see him appearing in one video with their product hidden somewhere.
This guy got so successful across all of Asia that he got offered a reward from the video giant “Bilibili”.
I hope you’ll understand here that anybody can succeed in China as a Key Opinion Leader. Whether you’re already famous or a young and motivated entrepreneur.
But that’s exactly the opportunity.
The E-commerce giant: Tmall, is planning to create a long-term consumer-facing group of lifestyle consultants. Meaning KOL is willing to share the same lifestyle as Chinese consumers but mostly anything that people may enjoy and later on buy.
They plan to support around 2,000 wangzi (these mega-popular influencers) to build up a huge network. They already have 500 of them from 10 countries.
What tools will they use? The basic package for influencers:
- Short video
- Social media
- live streaming
- And others to engage Chinese consumers
What does live streaming represent for an E-commerce platform?
- An increase of +309% product in views in 2018
- An increase of +430% in products purchased totaling RMB 470 million
How much money can you make from it?
- For one post: $1000 to $10,000
- if you’re really famous you can reach millions. (Kim K.W managed to do $1 million for live streaming)
Why are KOLs so important in China?
You need to understand that China and its consumers suffered from a lot of scams, fake products, fake companies, and counterfeit… to a point that they couldn’t trust any brand anymore. Therefore, as they couldn’t trust corporate communication, they decided to rely on people. On the consumers themselves.
There arrived KOLs. They developed the power to significantly increase brand awareness and influence people in their purchasing decisions. Now, 70% of Chinese Gen Z consumers (born after 1995) prefer buying products directly through social media.
Furthermore, consider the endorsement of social media and e-commerce. For Chinese people, social networks/media take part in the shopping experience. They can do shopping while reading a post or watching videos from their favorite KOL.
And all these elements made Key Opinion Leaders a top-selling tool for companies and are therefore highly valued assets for brands.
All this seems really attractive, right?
BECOME THE NEXT LEGEND
Do you want to become an influencer as well? Good. You’re on a good Website.
Here’s what you should do.
Work on your content
If you want to be a KOL you’ll have to make yourself accessible to your community, both online and in person. You’ll also have to leave a positive impression of yourself on those you encounter. To make your followers feel valued, heard, understood, and more informed about a specific subject after speaking to or hearing from you.
But more than anything else, you’ll need to find a good subject to talk about, make yourself an expert on it, and produce good content about it.
What subject can you talk about in China?
This part is the easy one. Either you can choose something you’re passionate about or your lifestyle, or you can search for the most demanded sectors in China, products best-seller,s and find your niche market. Cause to make money as an influencer, your role will be to show your expertise or your lifestyle in a subject and convince people they can trust you and that they should follow your advice.
You’ll use your influence to convince people to buy products or services.
- Cosmetic related products
- Baby related products
- Fitness or supplement-related products
- Pets related
Then you’ll need to work on your content.
Because having a deep knowledge of a subject or being famous in your home country, won’t help you very much…
In China, they have a close communication system. Meaning that they don’t have Facebook, Google, Instagram, or other western social media.
Therefore, they probably have no idea who you are. But it’s ok, you can change this.
You can change this situation and you better have to. Why? Well, because the trust relationship is ruling China’s business world. There are too many scams here. Fake people, fake companies, and fake products. And if they don’t want to waste their time or money, they’ll have to be sure who they deal with.
Therefore, you’ll have to build your visibility in China. To get Chinese people to know you.
- Make yourself a Chinese Website.
If one day you want to operate in China, whoever you’ll try to contact they’ll check on you. They’ll try to see if you’re a real expert on your domain, if you’re really famous abroad, what’s your story, if Chinese people know you if there are any articles or online comments about you, etc.
- Open a Weibo account.
Weibo corresponds to Chinese Twitter. Probably the most popular Chinese social media. A tool that will help you to get access to a wild audience and engage with Chinese people. Due to the high visibility, you can get on this platform, Weibo is THE perfect tool for KOL. Chinese people are very suggestible. It’s therefore, a perfect way for you to grow a fan base in China and start spreading your influence. If they like you, word of mouth will do the job for you.
More information on Weibo
- Mind the language.
At Roma, do as Romans do. Unfortunately, you can’t expect to be a celebrity in China while speaking your mother tongue. Learning Mandarin will be for you a great competitive advantage. You’ll connect easier with Chinese netizens. And be sure that Chinese people are very sympathetic to foreigners doing an effort to learn their language. So except if you can cooperate with a mega-celebrity in China, learning some basics of the Chinese language will be a great way for you to integrate into the Chinese market as the new rising KOL.
Develop your reputation
Once Chinese people will get to know you and at least, they can find information about you, you’ll have made the first step to gaining their trust.
But there is a lot of competition in China to become the new KOL star. Not everybody is making millions of it. And if you want to do so, you’ll brand yourself and build up the best reputation possible. And to build your reputation, it will go through Chinese social media.
Very famous in China, it’s a basic here. A messenger app offering you the possibility to share content with your “friend” such as text/videos/pictures/music/etc. This is awesome for you, as the main mission of KOL is to share content about different subjects.
On WeChat, you’ll also find a group chat. It gives Chinese people the possibility to organize group discussions, talk about their problems and how to solve them, and also talk about new trends, who to follow, what products to buy, etc. As KOL, you can use it to engage your followers and interact with your community. Open a WeChat account, it’s worth it.
The best tools WeChat can offer you:
- Make up a brochure about yourself: With details about your expertise, and your fan base in China and abroad… very useful if you need to introduce yourself to other professionals. It’s like your online book.
- Spread marketing content: text/videos/pictures
- Work on your community management
more information about
If you want to be famous as a KOL, you’ll have to use it! A video-sharing application. Young and middle-aged people LOVE it. Through this one, you can create video content and spread it to a very large audience (can reach millions of people). If you play it smart, you can connect with thousands of people and make the buzz! Fun & Intuitive, Chinese people love to interact with KOL there. And companies LOVE to develop a KOL strategy on this app. Perfect for you.
To give you an example, a young Chinese lady recently made Buzz while spreading a PPT on Douyin. A simple PPT… which resulted in over 1 million RMB product sales in a day. She’s now a star.
If she can do it, you can do it!
Baidu is the Chinese Google. Netizens are always looking for information on it. If they have a problem: Baidu. If they’re looking for something: Baidu. If they want to check a product: Baidu. Also, as we previously explained Chinese people need to trust you. And whether it’s the final consumers or a company that could hire your services, they’ll check on you before doing anything.
And guess what, if they can’t find anything on you… they’ll pass. Meaning no business. So, you’d better develop your e-reputation and be visible on Baidu.
To do so, you can implement plenty of actions
- Baidu Zhidao & Zhihu: a good way to deliver information about you
- Baidu Baike: the Chinese Wikipedia. Don’t underestimate it. It’s very important in China. You’ll need to make your own page there.
- PR: Peoples want to read articles about you. If no media has been talking about you, then you’re not famous enough…
- Forums: If you’re an important KOL, you’ll be present in forum discussions. You’ll have an active fan base commenting about you on a regular basis
To resume, building your visibility is the minimum if you expect to work as an influencer in China. And building a strong online reputation will be for you the key to making yourself famous in China and one day reaching the level of superstar.
Your online reputation will work for you. But mind the content quality you’ll spread online and don’t forget to show yourself offline. The point here is to convince people that you’re an expert in your field.
- Attend local/networking events
- Investigate your subject and share your ideas frequently
- Cooperate & do affiliate marketing with other KOLs
- Create quality content (without good foundations of content, your “expertise” will just be seen as simple talk.
- Be practical. You’ll need to show people things, not only talk about it
Three keywords to remember when developing your KOL career: be present, consistent, and reliable.
The more followers you have and the more attractive you can be, the more successful you will be!
If you have any questions on how to become an Influencer in China, feel free to contact us.
We are GMA. The Gentlemen Celebrities
- Digital Marketing Expert in the Chinese Market
- Lead Generations & E-reputation
- We connect KOL & Companies