It’s common nowadays for people to search for the social media postings of the so-called KOLs (key opinion leaders) or influencers they follow to get advice on anything from travel, to shopping, to video games, workout or beauty. Trusting in their opinions, fans would often buy products that the KOLs recommend.
KOLs who have large fan base and are good at interacting with their followers will typically attract sponsors.
Taking about myself, I’ve also accepted sponsorships and recommended some products or restaurants I really liked, after trying out those offerings.
Knowing the power of word of mouth, some KOLs, unfortunately, are simply trying to monetize their popularity.
They would recommend products they have never tried before, or make recommendations that are not based on their professional and objective opinions.
These KOLs are essentially selling their credibility and betraying the trust of their followers.
As people start to get fed up with these fake KOLs, a group of amateur influencers has been on the rise.
These are ordinary people with unique style or taste and love to share their opinions with others. They would take beautiful photos and upload them online to share their views on a product or some services.
Sometimes, they may also provide a direct link to products they like. They are loyal fans of those products and sometimes even become experts on certain brands.
Even if they endorse a brand for monetary reward, their followers would think it’s totally alright.
For those KOLs who somehow got lost in the pursuit of money, they should go back to step one, which is offering genuine opinions for their followers in fields they specialize in. By doing so, they can hope to regain their fans’ trust.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 21
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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