Kols or influencers? Which works better for brand marketing?

The concept of an influencer is nothing new, but “KOLs” are perhaps a bit more unknown.

A new trend is taking over the world of marketing, and this one you don’t want to miss. A few years ago, China surfaced a different category for people of influence that affects both traditional media channels and social media.

That name is Key Opinion Leader (KOL). You might ask yourself, isn’t that the same as influencers, but it’s not. While the misunderstanding is quite common, KOLs and influencers differ.

Generally, some key opinion leaders are influencers, and some influencers are key opinion leaders, but not all would consider themselves both.

People recognize key opinion leaders for their knowledge, so therefore they should influence people’s decisions. And people respect influencers enough for people to take notice of them, so presumably, influencers must be key opinion leaders to their followers.

What are Key Opinion Leaders?

Key Opinion Leader

KOL is an acronym for Key Opinion Leader and can be defined as someone who’s considered a connoisseur of a certain topic and whose opinions are respected by their public, thanks to their trajectory and the reputation they’ve built for themselves.

KOL Marketing is so effective as the massive amount of social media consumption has had the power to influence a person’s decision-making capacity and motivated them to purchase a brand’s product.

What are the types of KOLs?

KOLs stands for Key Opinion Leaders. It refers to those who possess expert knowledge on a given niche or subject and have a large following on various social media platforms.

KOLs can include:

  • Doctors and dentists
  • Politicians
  • Academics
  • Professional advisors
  • Socialites

What are the benefits of KOL marketing?

KOL marketing lets you reach a targeted audience in your niche or industry. It also helps you earn credibility through word of mouth on a larger scale.

Building long-term relationships with KOLs give you access to the power of high-impact recommendations. It also gives a human touch to your marketing.

KOL marketing can also be a more powerful, faster, and cheaper way to boost sales than traditional advertising.

If a KOL positively mentions your brand, or even merely uses it, many view this as a positive endorsement for your product. Many of the KOL’s followers will decide to give your product a go, and if they like it, they may become regular customers.

If a KOL positively mentions your brand, or even merely uses it, many view this as a positive endorsement for your product. Many of the KOL’s followers will decide to give your product a go, and if they like it, they may become regular customers.

If you select the correct KOL, you have the advantage of having an audience united by their interests. If you advertise on television, you know that many viewers will have little or no interest in your product, no matter how good it is. Likewise, many people will skip over your newspaper advertisement with little more than a casual glance. They wouldn’t even take up an offer for a free product. However, if you manage to work with a KOL who influences the type of people who will have an interest in your product, you will have an audience of like-minded followers and fewer irrelevant people.

How to Find a KOL?

Find a KOL

Finding a key opinion leader in your industry is relatively easy. On YouTube, you might try searching keywords related to your product or service, and peruse the various accounts that show up as search results. Alternatively, you could search hashtags on Instagram to find influencers who specialize in a specific, targeted field.

Key opinion leader vs influencer: what differentiates them?

Since both KOLs and influencers collaborate with brands to recommend products or services, it’s important to define on what occasions these two different profiles tend to be used:

The main difference is that influencers are native to social media platforms since that’s where the very concept of an influencer was developed. KOLs, on the other hand, have parallel professions, such as journalists, entrepreneurs, writers, or politicians.

A KOL can, of course, have a big presence on social media or have a blog or Youtube channel, but these don’t tend to be their main means of communication, nor do they necessarily post very frequently.

KOLs don’t tend to recommend products related to their professions in exchange for economic compensation. There do exist, however, examples of KOLs collaborating with brands in exchange for a service. For example Matías Prats with Línea Directa, Rafa Nadal with KIA, or George Clooney with Nespresso…

Influencers may also recommend products without receiving anything in exchange, although this is not such a common occurrence.

In the case of receiving economic compensation in return for their recommendations, the brands with which these influencers collaborate tend to have a much more hands-on approach with the content that’s being published.

Another fundamental difference between influencers and Key Opinion Leaders is the motivation that drives their audiences to follow them.

For influencers, having a community of followers is the most important thing, and it’s for that very reason that they only recommend quality products and services to their followers. The originality and quality of the content they post directly determine their impact and number of followers, which their credibility and identity as an influencer depend on.

KOLs, on the other hand, don’t make a living off of these types of actions but regard them rather as complementary to their day-to-day activities.

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