KOL: Definition, Types, Benefits, and Differences with Influencers

KOL is – Sinaumed’s, have you ever bought a book because you read a review on your favorite book blogger ? Or maybe you’ve read tips on choosing an original book on the blog? If so, congratulations, it means you have been influenced by a Key Opinion Leader (KOL).

Using KOL services is commonplace now, even many digital marketing experts require it. The reason is, the profits earned by the company are proportional to the expenses. Especially in increasing brand awareness.

Thanks to technological developments because they have helped change marketing patterns and systems. Now, billboards or posters posted on the streets have begun to be abandoned. Companies prefer to use KOL on social media as a marketing technique.

Although indeed sometimes KOL does not always have an impact on increasing product sales. But still, the advantages cannot be forgotten. So, what exactly is a Key Opinion Leader? How important is its existence? Let’s discuss more together here.

Meaning of COLL

Key Opinion Leader aka KOL is someone who has skills, knowledge or ability in a certain field that has quite a big influence. Every opinion will be heard by the community. In short, KOL can also be referred to as an expert, professional, or specialist that many people trust.

Generally, a KOL is trusted because of knowledge and experience in a particular field. For example, a book writer, fashion designer, pediatrician, psychologist, and so on.

When people of that caliber mention or recommend a product, their opinion will be trusted by many people, including you, right? Because there is no doubt about its credibility. As written by Claire Diaz-Ortiz in her book entitled Social Media Success for Every Brand.

The difference between KOL and Influencers

Not a few people think that KOL is the same as influencer. The reasons are quite varied, but what is certain is that this assumption is wrong, Sinaumed’s. The problem is both are similar but not 100% the same.

Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are trusted by many people because of their expertise, experience, and professionalism. In addition, KOLs don’t have to always appear on social media, but they can use it as a medium to spread messages to their followers.

Meanwhile, influencers build their own credibility by highlighting their persona on social media and the content they share. Therefore, influencers must always actively “greet” their followers on social media. Interestingly, they can be considered Key Opinion Leaders by their followers themselves.

In short, not all Key Opinion Leaders can be called influencers and vice versa . This is because there are also many Key Opinion Leaders who are actually active on social media due to their busy lives in the real world. Some may consider it useless and a waste of time. After all, there is no demand to have social media with hundreds of thousands of followers for them.

Like doctor Boyke, for example. Without the help of social media, we already know that he is someone who has knowledge and expertise in the fields of sexology, gynecology and human sexuality. Likewise professors or professors at universities.

Even so, now there are quite a number of experts who use social media to educate the public. like dr. Jiemi Ardian who actively shares content about mental health on Instagram and Twitter.

Because of his existence on social media, dr. Jiemi Ardian can also be considered as an influencer. As of October 2022, his Instagram account has been followed by 221 thousand people and 316 thousand on Twitter.

You can see the activities of an influencer more fully in the book How to Win Instagram Tricks to Become an Instagram Influencer compiled by the Stiletto Book Team. This book describes the activities of successful celebrities in Indonesia such as Janine Intansari, Olivia Lazuardy, Ariana Octavia, Susan Emir and Ayudhya Ghita.

Based on the Job

One of the main differentiators between Key Opinion Leaders and influencers is the job. A professional usually spends more time on his main job, therefore if there is an offer to become a KOL it is a side job for him.

Meanwhile, for the majority of influencers, their activity on social media is their main job. This means they spend their time creating content to upload to social media, write articles on blogs, or make YouTube videos.

Influencers can plan one piece of content within three days or more, while KOL usually only plays social media in their spare time.

You could say that influencers are like teachers at school. They have sufficient knowledge in their own field (niche) and they are also able to transfer this knowledge to their followers on social media.

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Market or Target Audience

The next difference lies in the market or audience. Influencers usually build or find their own audience so that they are ready to be “used” at any time, while KOL is not. This often deceives companies that are about to use KOL or influencer services.

For companies that are just about to get involved, they tend to think that the number of followers on social media owned by influencers or KOLs is very influential on the success of the campaign being run. They think, the more the number of followers, an influencer or KOL will be more influential.

In the end, this assumption developed into a further stage, namely to deify followers. For them, the bigger the number in the “followers” column on social media, the bigger the profit they get.

In fact, the marketing strategy with KOL and influencers is not always like that. There are many big brands that work with artists but are still inferior to small brands that use the services of nano-micro influencers. As explained by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, Iwan Setiawan in the book Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital.

Usually, this happens to brands whose products are only promoted without being used in the daily life of the famous artist or influencer they choose as the “face” of their product.

Besides that, famous artists or influencers who have busy schedules usually interact less and less on social media. In cases like this, the advertisements posted on their social media accounts are only advertisements. There is no interaction between KOL and followers that can improve the brand image .

In contrast to nano-micro influencers who still frequently interact with their followers. The number of their followers is not too many, but the relationships they build with their followers are more natural and not artificial. In addition, they can also spend all day proving that the product being promoted is really being used so that they can demonstrate its benefits. This can affect public trust.

Types of Key Opinion Leaders

So, we have already discussed about nano-micro influencers, artists, and the number of followers. But what exactly is a nano or micro influencer and what does this have to do with the number of followers?

You see, based on the number of followers KOL and influencers can be divided into five categories, namely Nano, Micro, Mid-tier, Macro, and Mega influencers (KOL). This is how the distribution looks like:

Type Number of Followers
Nano Influencers 1,000 to 10,000 followers
Micro Influencers 10,000 to 50,000 followers
Mid-tier Influencers 50,000 to 500,000 followers
Macro Influencers 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers
Mega-influencers >1,000,000 followers

Believe it or not, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub page , most successful influencers come from the micro and mid-tier influencers category. Meanwhile, nano influencers are usually quite popular in the niche they choose.

For influencers, gathering as many followers as possible is an obligation as well as a target that must be met. This is because this is a “selling point” and a measure of their credibility.

But for experts, experts, or specialists, the way it works is not always like that. If their name is already well-known in the “offline” world, they can more easily gather followers when they go online. Not infrequently the number can reach the category of macro or mega.

For example, like Chef Renata, whose number of Instagram followers reaches 2.5 million people or Chef Juna with 1.6 million followers. In short, if you want, experts or experts in their fields can become KOLs in a relatively short time.

However, KOLs with a large number of followers sometimes have their rate cards not included in the company’s budget, if not to say they don’t make sense. For example, for one post on Instagram, companies must pay up to tens of millions. On the other hand, these fantastic prices are sometimes not followed by interactions with their followers. However, KOLs like this are super busy people, in fact, he might even pay an assistant to manage his own social media accounts.

Benefits of Key Opinion Leaders

After reading the description about the meaning and types of Key Opinion Leaders , you may be wondering about the benefits of these KOLs. Well, regardless of who and how many followers or fees, KOL is an important thing in the digital marketing era as it is now. The problem is they have several benefits, including:

1. Assist with brand or product promotion activities

Yup, a KOL can help promote a brand or product by uploading content on social media, blogs, to his personal YouTube.

The number of followers they have can help the brand or product being promoted to become known to many people. A certain percentage of their followers may open a business account, search on Google, or buy the product if they are really interested.

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2. Increase brand credibility

Remember, KOL is not a random person who suddenly goes viral and becomes known to many people. They have people who are experienced and experts in their respective fields. So when a brand uses KOL in its marketing strategy, the credibility of the brand can increase.

Yes, who didn’t believe it when Chef Renata said that the stoves produced by Brand A were good, heated evenly, and so on? Even by using the right strategy, a brand’s image can be more positive after using KOL.

In the end, not a few people have more faith in the brand mentioned by Chef Renata than its competitors, right?

3. Increase followers and subscribers

The third benefit is the next stage of the second benefit. That is, after the credibility of a brand increases because it uses KOL in its marketing, the number of followers and customers will increase.

The reasons vary, it could be due to the influence of the KOL or it could also be from more traditional methods such as mouth-to-mouth marketing , aka one customer influencing the people around him to use the product or brand promoted by the KOL.

Important Things to Have to Become a KOL

Currently, you could say, the opportunity to become a Key Opinion Leader is quite wide open for anyone, including you. But the process can be more difficult than becoming Influencers.

As mentioned above, KOL is someone who has a profession, experience or special knowledge in a field. In fact, you could say KOL is an expert in his own field.

So if you want to become a KOL, you better show that you have strong experience and knowledge in the field you are in. For example, like Muhammad “Lemon” Ikhsan, whose name is famous after his mobile gaming skills are recognized by many gamers in Indonesia.

With his skills, Lemon can become a Key Opinion Leader in the field of mobile games and help promote the games he plays. When he created the game review content, his personal opinion was much more trusted by the wider community.

So, when compared between the games that work with Lemon and those that don’t, the games that Lemon plays will be mostly uploaded by Indonesian gamers.

You can find other ways to become an influencer in the book The Magic Of Influencers: How to Value Yourself, written by Alam Bachtiar. This book clearly talks about what an influencer is and how one can become an influencer.

Key Opinion Leaders Can Be “Born” Because of Help from Brands

In recent years, the strategy of using micro influencers in product or brand marketing has been popular. Well, sometimes conditions like this can actually help the birth of newcomer KOL.

Micro influencers, although the number of followers is not too many, the engagement rates they get are much better than mega influencers. Especially in a niche that he chose himself.

Gradually, the popularity of these micro influencers will continue to increase along with their appearance on the various marketing channels of the brands they work with.

When he starts to be seen by the public, it is very likely that people will ask for opinions, comments or suggestions from him in the same field as the brand he is promoting.

For example, say, there is an influencer who often shares content about design and then he works with one of the well-known design software companies in Indonesia.

During the collaboration, he often appears in YouTube videos, social media, and even fills in material in online webinars held by the company. Over time, people who see it will think that this influencer really has expertise in design. In the end, they started to believe what the influencer said. Some percent of them will probably take his services.

There are also influencers who spread their wings to become celebrities who often appear on television shows. Like Keanu aka keanuagl who had played in a television program after his name became famous on Instagram and Twitter through his trademark “splice”.

If you want, you can also learn how to influence others from the book How to Win Friends And Influence People In The Digital Age (Revised Edition) by Dale Carnegie & Associates.

Well, Sinaumed’s, those are the sundry Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs that are widely used by brands and companies in their marketing strategies and sometimes tempt us to buy the products they are promoting. Hopefully the information in this article is useful, yes. See you in the next article!

If you want to find various kinds of books about influencers, then you can find them at sinaumedia.com . To support Sinaumed’s in adding insight, sinaumedia always provides quality and original books so that Sinaumed’s has #MoreWithReading information.