How to Best Utilize Your KOL Budget for Influencer Marketing in China? Micro, Mid, or Macro KOL?
So, your director has finally decided to try out influencer marketing in China! You have got a healthy sum to put toward a campaign! You have a good idea on how you would like the influencers to communicate your message to their audience. After looking at some profiles of the KOLs, you decide who you want. But after getting their quotes, you are astonished! Just one of those influencers already maxes out your budget! This can be the case with a wide range of marketing activities, and getting the best value from your spend is key. The same applies to influencer marketing in China.
There is no one straight answer to best use your budget. A lot will depend on your brands current exposure in the market and what your goals are for the campaign. Is it brand awareness in China? Are you launching a new line, or bringing exposure to the opening of a new physical location? Lets look at some of the situations you may be in and how best to get value for your buck.
New brand in China
In this case you want to get most exposure to your brand through influencer marketing. The first thing to do is to register your very own Weibo and WeChat verified accounts. You will be able to post branded content and interact with potential consumers. When the time comes to launch your first influencer campaign, there should already be a good amount of content about your brand online. When users search for you, they should be able to easily find your social profiles. Post high quality content and interact with every comment. That’s how consumer trust is built.
Once you have some content up, you need to work to create a buzz among a focused audience. It is best to target audiences of smaller niche influencers or micro KOL. These niche KOLs have an engaged and dedicated following. In China a micro KOL is an influencer with less than 100,000 followers. Their costs are relatively low for a post, between 3,500 to 10,000 RMB.
Establishing Online Presence in China
After a couple of months of consistent posting, your official account should have a good number of engaged followers. Now that your brand has a nice presence on social media, you want to grow the brand exposure to a wider audience. Engaging mid tier KOLs, around 300,000 to 800,000 followers, you will reach a larger general audience. These KOLs will cost you between 10,000 and 25,000 RMB per post.
At this stage you have reached a large number of your targeted consumers. Your brand needs to “blink” in front of their eyes almost constantly. Remember, consumers in China need 7–8 brand touch points before making a purchasing decision. So, it is very important to maintain your brand presence online.
Getting Large-Scale Exposure
Finally, you might want a macro KOL to endorse your brand. It will reinforce the message that users have already seen online a few times. If done correctly, this will set off a large-scale positive association with the brand for the future. Macro KOL will have 1M + of followers and can cost anywhere from 15,000 to 150,000 RMB. Fees vary greatly depending on the industry the KOL is in, how often they engage in paid campaigns, and if they have been paid high premiums in the past. Talent influencers, who are an actor, a singer or similar profession, will charge much higher fees as well.
If your brand has an existing presence in China, you might take a slightly different approach. It would be worth investing your funds into mid and macro KOL from the beginning of your influencer marketing efforts. Authentic content and genuine posts will assert your presence and grow your credibility. Consider live streaming and video content to show more on features of the product, focusing on the value the product can bring.
Strategy for Large International Brands
An international well-established brand, like Nike, Gucci, Bobbi Brown etc., would benefit from engaging macro-KOL. Think someone with a following of over 5 million. It can even be a celebrity, like an actor, singer or an athlete. This is more of an endorsement of a product and can create buzz around your brand. In this case, you are looking at 250,000 RMB + for a post on Weibo. It is difficult to assess direct ROI from such endorsements, and should be seen as a brand awareness and brand image investment. Engaging mid-range KOLs is still very important for best campaign results.
Influencer marketing in China is a very tricky business, and having the right partner by your side is crucial. Remember to constantly revisit and update your social media strategy to stay relevant. Engage influencers as often as you can, and engage with your fans online.
Experiment and test. There is no magic formula to online success. After a couple campaigns, you will get a feeling for what works well for your brand. You will also find the best influencers who are natural fit for you, who will consistently deliver great results.
At iconKOL, we work with each client to understand your goals for influencer marketing in China. We craft a tailored strategy for each campaign, and pick the best KOLs for your brand. With our long-standing and trusting relationship with KOLs in our talent base, your brand can get the benefits of a long-term relationship from the very beginning.