What is a KOLs “Key Opinion Leader”? Definition
There seems to be a debate over whether Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers are the same. After all, people recognize KOLs for their knowledge, so they are able to influence people’s decisions. And it’s clear that people respect influencers enough that people notice them, so it can be assumed that influencers must be thought leaders in their community.
The real answer is probably that some key opinion leaders are influencers, and some influencers are key opinion leaders, but not all see themselves as both.
Have you ever purchased a product or service based on what someone you follow on Instagram or Twitter recommended to you? Do you visit blogs to find tips for your new purchases? You were then hit by a KOL.
Influencer marketing is a very powerful sales tool. 92% of consumers say they are more likely to trust personal recommendations rather than advertisements.
74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key element in their purchasing decisions. Word of mouth is 115% more influential than traditional advertising.
If your most loyal customers tell their friends and family about your business, you may see increased sales afterward. But what if you could amplify the power of word of mouth to reach even more potential customers? To do this, you can use a marketing technique called leveraging a Key Opinion Leader.
What is the “Key Opinion Leader”?
There is one essential difference between a thought leader and an influencer. In modern usage at least, influencers operate online, make themselves known and exert their influence on social media, blogs, and YouTube. It is not necessary for a key opinion leader to operate on an online or social platform. They are simply the people to contact for their area of expertise.
Traditional media are one of the most common places to meet key opinion leaders. Opinion leaders are the experts the press calls on when they want a credible quote or sound clip on a hot topic.
“KOL’s” or “Key Opinion Leaders” are people or organizations who are experts in a specific field.
Through their knowledge, they acquire such a strong social status that their recommendations and opinions are listened to when making important decisions. Politicians, columnists, as well as celebrities, are good examples of KOL.
All opinion leaders have an important status in their own community and their opinions are valued and listened to. In a way, they are people considered to be true experts by society.
They are trusted as individuals and not just as public figures representing corporate marketing interests. They often have a great influence and can reach millions of people with simple advice.
However, there is one essential difference between a thought leader and a marketing influencer.
In modern usage at least, marketing influencers operate online, make themselves known and exert their influence on social media, blogs and YouTube. However, it is not necessary for a thought leader to operate on an online or social platform to be influential. They are simply the people to contact for their area of expertise and not for a marketing campaign.
How are marketing influencers different from key thought leaders?
A marketing influencer can be a thought leader, just like a thought leader can be an influencer. However, the two roles do not need to overlap.
KOLs were around long before influencer marketing on the web became all the rage. Many of them actively avoid the internet because they have little free time to devote to it. Some see social media as a huge waste of time. There is no obligation for KOLs to maintain a social profile or have subscribers. They just need to be recognized for their expertise and influence on a subject.
For example, in many small towns, locals unofficially treat their doctors like KOL, simply out of respect for their work. If people have any health problems, they immediately turn to their GP for help. If the local newspaper wants to know the effects of a local medical problem, they too will no doubt go to the doctor for advice.
Likewise, many university professors are granted the status of Key Opinion Leader. by virtue of their title. If someone wants advice on the importance of a recently updated scientific fact, they often turn to a local scientist, not a marketing influencer, to get an objective opinion.
Of course, no one is saying that Key Opinion Leaders can’t spend time online and make money with influencer marketing. Many famous people have even followed this path. The best workers are clearly Key (s) opinions when it comes to dealing with a culinary subject. They certainly made their name offline, but they quickly became just as popular as an online influencer, all thanks to the notoriety they’ve built in the kitchen business.
Another key difference between most thought leaders and influencer marketing is also the geographic extent of their influence. If a person is accepted as being a KOL (and not duplicating an online influencer), their fame and recognition towards them is likely limited to a particular area. It can be a small town, a region, and at most a country.
However, the internet has no borders. If people recognize you as a marketing influencer, you probably have fans around the world.
An exception to this global differentiation, however, is the major thought leaders who have gained much of their notoriety on television. Just like the internet, TV shows are broadcast all over the world.
The mainstream media is one of the most common places where you come across Key opinions. Opinion leaders are the experts the press calls on when they want a credible quote or commentary on a hot topic.
For example, your newscast is likely to address certain KOLs to give credibility and give opinions on a new hot issue. It may be an infectious disease specialist, a specialist in health management, a political expert, or a university professor. The main thing is that they have gained a reputation through mastery of a specialized subject.
A Key Opinion can become a mega or macro influencer.
As we saw in another article, there are different types of marketing influencers, depending on the number of followers they have. It is currently estimated that there are four levels of influencer marketing:
The nano: 1,000 – 10,000 subscribers
The Micro: 10,000 to 50,000 subscribers
The macro: 500,000 – 1,000,000 subscribers
The Mega: more than 1,000,000 followers
Most of the most successful online marketing influencers are micro and macro influencers, although nano-influencers are gaining popularity in really niche marketing niches or topics.
However, someone who has already made a name for themselves offline as a KOL often becomes a macro or mega influencer if they choose to tap into social media.
While brands have traditionally chosen to work with celebrities and mega-influencers, they have faced a few challenges.
First of all, celebrities tend to charge very expensive social media product placements.
Reality TV stars charge hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even more, for a single product recommendation through a post.
Marketing and Key Opinion Leaders
Many industries are already using influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategy. If you too want to use this technique, you need to choose the right type of influencer marketing campaign for your business.
Indeed, any launch of an advertising campaign must have a specific objective. This is also the case for the use of one of the two categories of influencers as a marketing lever.
Influencers and KOLs cater to different audiences, so you need to consider your target audience. Influencers are aimed at the average consumer. Compared to KOLs, influencers often have an unspecified audience.
What connects all followers is a common interest in the influencer’s attitude, personality, or lifestyle. People follow influencers because their content matches the interest, liking, or opinion of the subscriber. Because of these similarities, the follower is more likely to identify with the influencer, but may not necessarily match specific demographics.
Opinion leaders, on the other hand, have influence over a particular demographic. Their audience values KOL’s opinion because of their expertise and experience in a certain industry. Followers look to them for knowledge and advice and usually have a deeper understanding and knowledge of industry themselves. Unlike influencers, people over whom a Key Opinion has an influence are not necessarily fans of the Key Opinion, but they respect its expertise.
If you want to target a specific audience or have interests in a specific topic, work with a KOL. The latter’s influence can be an incredibly effective way to reach a new audience or to extend the reach of your message to a knowledgeable audience.
However, do not pay more for a KOL who has great influence while working outside your area of interest. Their price can be based on the reach they have in a certain area, and their influence will not be effective outside that area of expertise.
To promote brands and strengthen consumer confidence, the KOL is a powerful lever. Considered a connoisseur on a specific subject, his opinions are respected by his audience. Useful to promote a product, a service, a site, or content, the importance in the relevance of its audience will be a key factor of success in influencing marketing.
Develop your image and accelerate sales with KOLs
The KOL has therefore become the essential point of contact in the marketing plan of any brand. First of all, it is a powerful way to work on your brand image.
A winning recipe: authenticity and proximity
the KOLs have become its depositories. The integrated long ago the fact that authenticity is key and do not hesitate to decline the offer of brands that do not meet their criteria.
They also strive to remain experts on a topic, a sector on a dedicated “audience” to strengthen their credibility and their power of influence. But above all, the KOLs are those who have succeeded in integrating the proximity variable to become real “friends” in the eyes of their fans, wielding with dexterity the art of storytelling, creativity, and all the potential of platforms.
Similar keywords referenced in our dictionary :
- Influencer marketing
- Viral marketing
- Brand equity
- Marketing trigger
- The strategic domain of activities
- Experiential Marketing.