In the 19th Century USA, reading a newspaper might be luxury. Now the rise of social media floods us with endless news. When your time is limited and eyes are dazzled, you often choose to read those posts either directly from Key Opinion Leader (KOL) or with the highest retweets again originated from a powerful online influencer. Therefore humongous amounts of digital contents are actually produced but immediately cast into oblivion on a daily basis. Any social marketers who do not involve KOL in your social campaign are simply wasting time and money, no matter how fancy or sexy your campaign is.

What is KOL? Celebrities, Politian, Elite, influential media platform, people in a powerful position, online grass-roots who often act out either outrageously or hilariously, or simply someone whose speech would enthrall a group of internet audience. People are divided by leaders and followers; admit or not, someone is just more captivating than you.

I am not very good in giving theoretical or statistical arguments. I will just elaborate 3 stories to make my point.

Story 1:

A well known western brand entered into China but its brand awareness has remained low. Reasons are manifold and I just take a closer look through the lens of its online communication; please bear in mind the company has even signed a contract with a famous digital agency.

After little online audit, I observed it has been doing all its digital homework, including a very good corporate website, painstakingly cultivating an online community in conjunction with loyalty program, opening accounts across all major China social media platforms, i.e. Weibo, Douban, even video account on Youku, along with several interactive online campaigns.

What might be missing here? One crucial element I conjecture is that I really do not see powerful KOL or online influencers to promote its online messages and brand information.

Story 2

A man just opened a small shop of roast duck business in China. To bring more traffic to its offline shop, he decided to come up a special way of attracting potential customers online. So any tactic? He actually resorted to several popular social Apps in China. First he tried to send invitation and connect with those girl accounts with beautiful profile photos; second he sent messages to them and inquired whether they would like to work part time to promote his ducks.

What is the logic behind this? Well, he believed beautiful girls on social App often have larger circle of friends, especially among males who are often meat lovers. Therefore marketing message or post from pretty girls should be more appealing. It is said his offline sale did rise, though I do not know the exact details.

No wonder recently Sina Weibo launched “paid retweet” service. Basically you choose from a list of influential accounts to retweet your post by paying a price.

Story 3

A well-known socialite in Taiwan, a kind of woman that “man wants her and woman wants to be her”. She opens social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Sina Weibo to promote her own designer jewelry. Every time she posts the photos of the necklaces, these pieces are always sold out quickly.

Of course you must say it is so normal. Sure, and I just want to pinpoint what kind of necklace she has designed…letter necklace, with nonsense words like “Fart” or “Do not look at my boobs”. Do you think regular people can achieve any sale for this kind of bawdy jewelry? Again social media era really intensify the spell of celebrity over us.





By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager