6 Dos and Don'ts that Will Make or Break Your China (KOL) Influencer Campaigns
Imagine collaborating with a key opinion leader:
your branding, along with a dash of your KOL's wit and style? Mixing that with high hopes for brand awareness and sales after the partnership sounds like a plan, right? Not quite for one company, a popular key opinion leader, and a video mishap.
With the key opinion leader's audience in mind, this KOL produced a video that the company rejected. He reluctantly proceeded with making another that the company would approve. The video was released and garnered negative comments from millions. The content was removed and replaced with the original video KOL had, and the fans loved it. True story, but the point is they redeemed their image, but the damage has been done. More importantly, the audience is not easily forgiving to everyone.

With prior influencer marketing success, it's easy to imagine how a few tweaks are supposed to enable your China expansion.

But will it really go the way you imagined?

Unfortunately, it's common for tech brands to commit a set of mistakes, leading them to miss out on China's $10 billion KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) industry. Plenty of things could go wrong with your campaign, but how do you optimize your work with KOLs to prevent that from happening?

You ought to understand the subtleties of the Chinese tech ecosystem and culture.

Let's look at these dos and don'ts.
Do:
Explore Deep, Ongoing Collaborations
A relationship with each influencer or KOL begins as an experiment. At any rate, start your work with a KOL in China with the intention to collaborate closely with each other for the years to come.

For instance, let's look at how Mr. Bags teams up with brands. He deeply collaborates with them by designing and promoting limited edition products.

Yes, the engagements aren't limited to marketing campaigns. The KOL is also credited as a designer of the product. What sorts of results would one expect? To give you an idea, one of Mr. Bags' collaborations with Longchamp made 5 million RMB in 2 hours.
Don't:
Suppress Your KOLs Style
As you attempt to replicate your success from other markets, take note of how China is different. Lean on the expertise of your KOLs.

If you picked your KOLs correctly, they are experts in their field. More importantly, they understand the subtleties of digital marketing in China much better than your team.

Limit your input to non-negotiable brand values and legal compliance.
Do:
Engage Local Experts
Like any business venture, there is trial and error involved. De-risk the process of working with KOLs by engaging digital marketing experts in China.

After all, your hands are already full of other marketing responsibilities.

Manage fewer relationships and risks by working with Chinese PR experts who will communicate with KOLs for you.
Don't:
Ignore Micro KOLs
There are three types of KOLs:

Big celebrities like actors and singers are already famous in their industry.

Wanghongs are online celebrities that are industry experts as well. Wanghongs are often owners of e-commerce stores that promote their products.

Micro-KOLs are ordinary social media app users that are yet to be known as KOLs. Don't underestimate the voice of micro-KOLs. Even if their audience is smaller than the first two types of KOLs, they quickly build closer relationships with their followers.

Unsurprisingly, it's more expensive to work with top KOLs. While this doesn't mean that you should avoid the biggest names in the industry, you want to consider influential personalities with smaller audiences.

Alongside Micro-KOLs, note that there's a trend around KOCs or Key Opinion Customers. While we don't want to bore you with more acronyms, they meaningfully influence your audience's buying decision through private channels like WeChat groups.
Do:
Come Prepared
to Diversify and Experiment
As noted earlier, you'll want to start a relationship with a KOL with the intention of deeply teaming up. You can, for instance, release co-branded limited edition products together down the line. That will pay off.

Since this won't happen overnight, be ready to experiment with multiple KOLs and those with smaller audiences. There's a good chance that a Micro-KOL will surprise you.
Don't:
Suppress Your KOLs Style
As you're getting up to speed with social networks and personalities that your marketing team is unfamiliar with, don't take shortcuts.

Choosing the right KOL is so much more than finding those with the most followers on Weibo or WeChat.

Among other factors, consider that likes are easy to fake. You'll also want to closely examine how the KOL's audience fits your brand.

Over To You
Successful projects are the result of good collaborations. Allow yourself to wonder and be surprised by what your partnership could offer if you come with an open mind.

The dos and don'ts listed above serve as an overview as you're formulating a strong China strategy.

Many of them are easier said than done. We're here to share more about KOLs and China's digital ecosystem. Next, here are 5 elements you need to know before kickstarting your KOL campaign.

If you need a reliable partner to help you navigate the Chinese market, shoot us a message.