Around 4.48 billion or 57 percent of the global population today uses social media. And this figure is rising exponentially at 13.1 percent every year. That’s a lot of data!
We might not have known these figures, but we did know that no one today is untouched by the miracle called social media. And we also know the heroes (read influencers) who keep us entertained, informed, and influence our everyday decision-making process.
But ever wondered who influences the influencers?
It is KOLs or the Key Opinion Leaders.
That was for public consumption. But as a social media expert, have you ever wondered about the category you fall in? Is it KOL or influencer? What is it that differentiates a KOL from an influencer? And if you are an influencer, can you become a KOL? We’ll try and throw some light on all these questions in this blog.
Are You A KOL Or An Influencer?
A KOL is an expert in their field, a professional whose opinion matters, offline and online. A KOL might or might not have made their place on social media, but an influencer for sure needs a web-based platform to shine. Not that their opinion doesn’t count, just that they are typically heard on an online medium. A KOL is a professional who is an expert in their chosen field. They could be a doctor, a professor, an athlete, or a writer.
So, who are you? Are you a professional who gained knowledge as you plowed on? Or are you someone who is creative and knows how to pass on the information?
Your answer might not be as straightforward as the question. Many times, both roles overlap. KOLs can be spotted offline as well as online, but influencers are only found online. KOLs’ opinion is considered more credible and authentic, while influencers make a living using social media.
Influencers undoubtedly possess pleasing personalities and are very creative; they are followed because people aspire to be like them.
The distinction is blurred and may not be accurate in every case, but generally, celebrities or vloggers are influencers, and doctors, academicians, and scientists are KOLs.
While KOLs traditionally dominate healthcare, life sciences, or pharmaceuticals, influencers partner with beauty, fitness, fashion, or travel brands.
Now, who’s who is out of the way. Let’s take on the next question.
How To Become A KOL (7 Pro Tips!)
1. Identify your niche
KOLs are not born in a day. They carve their reputation over the years with tireless work. If you know where your passion lies and where you have put in a lot of work, then that’s your niche. It cannot be something you have become fascinated with in the last few days! Having a degree or vast experience in the field is a must.
Even if you manage to find more than one niche, you must check if there is a need for your knowledge if you want to make it big. It might work as your hobby in the tangible world, but it won’t secure recognition in the virtual world.
Once you have identified what you want to do, you need to narrow it down and come up with your specialty. If you are a chef and love to share your recipes, sharing vegan-only recipes will make you a KOL in that field.
If you are looking to start fresh as an influencer, stop right here! Read our blog: How To Become An Influencer In Your Industry.
2. Be matchless
Key opinion leaders are synonymous with unique. They always have original ideas and pragmatic advice. Using existing ideas or problems, come up with unique solutions which will make you stand out among the crowd of influencers talking about regular stuff. Once you find your niche, staying different won’t be difficult.
3. Strategize for your social media avatar
You already have made a place for yourself in society as a KOL.
But how do you transfer the same image from the real world to the cyber world?
Strategize each step, don’t just go with the flow. There’s no fixed recipe for success. But having a plan always helps. But if you want to rise as a key opinion leader in your field, you need to have a blueprint ready. And we would say having a Plan B in place won’t hurt.
4. Choose your arena
You are all geared up and battle-ready. But where are you going to showcase your skills? There are numerous social media platforms where you can find success as a KOL. But they all have their pros and cons. Depending on your niche, you have to decide what works best for you. There’s no correct answer for the best channel – If you are shy and are a good writer, you might like to post written words – then we say LinkedIn is the place for you. But the written word won’t help if you are a fitness expert and want to show specific physical skills. In that case, you will have to make a video, and we all know YouTube is great for videos, just like Instagram is for pictures. Decide your channel depending on your niche. Keep in mind that different media channels have different audiences. Choose wisely. You don’t have to be successful on all the platforms, but being active on more than one is always a good idea.
5. Promote and collaborate
Sharing is caring. You’ve gained knowledge over the years, but you now need to share it. Unlike influencers, KOLs don’t purely work for fame and money. As a KOL, you’ve already made a name for yourself. So better collaborate with only those brands that match your vision. As a KOL, you must keep your image in mind before collaborating. When you find the right partner, you will build a virtual image for yourself besides promoting the brand. It is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Looking for making some money using your position as an influencer, then go and read our blog: How To Monetize Your Influence.
6. Keep your audience hooked
You have identified your niche and chosen your platform. So, let’s get you started. Now, you need to connect and engage with your audience. Try to post content that connects well with your audience. Always keep your audience in mind when you create content – you should know what they are looking forward to hearing from you and plan accordingly. But your job doesn’t end after posting the content. You need to respond to their queries and comments and host contests to boost their participation.
Now that you have your audience hooked, tracking the growth metrics becomes an absolute necessity. Confused about how to go about it? Look no further; we’ve got you covered in this blog: Social Reach vs Engagement — Which Is More Important? (We Settle The Debate!)
7. Look at the data
Every social media platform shows your analytics and tells you where your influence stands. Your metrics and stats give the brand you are associated with how many customers they can convert. Use your power to generate business. Many tools can aid you in keeping up with the numbers.
Why Become A KOL?
Influencers look up to KOLs, and brands seek them. Their words are considered final. In essence, they are the future of marketing.
Research has proved that they have a significant effect on consumer behavior. They can prove to be a boon for the brands if their values align with the company. They have established their reputation over the years because of their impartial and distinct opinion. And KOL marketing is so powerful, sometimes brands adapt and align with the leaders’ values. They hold so much sway that if a KOL mentions or uses a brand, it can create a buzz and directly impact the sales.
Remember how Coca-Cola shares dropped after football star Christiano Ronaldo, who is the fittest man alive, merely replaced it with a bottle of water?
Brands too are on the lookout for key opinion leaders, read their side of the story here: Why Are KOLs Important For Your Brand? (Aren’t They Same As Influencers?!)
KOLs have unique personalities and enjoy a more loyal fan following as compared to influencers. Being the expert in a particular niche enhances their credibility. So, follow our lead and become a successful KOL. Talk to atisfyre experts today. All you need to do is sign-up!