Miaozhen System and China Advertising Association have jointly published the “2023 KOL Marketing White Paper”, which lists the 6 major trends of KOL marketing and 6 major practical guidelines of KOL marketing in 2023. Below is an overview of the key points compiled in the report.
China’s social marketing continues to rise in 2022, which means there is great potential for emerging advertisers to increase their investment, especially for emerging advertisers/brand owners who will increase their social marketing budgets by up to 81% in 2023, up 2% from last year. KOL marketing has become the main focus of brand marketing, with a share of up to 66%. Nowadays, KOL marketing is the top priority of brand marketing and product longing is still the core appeal, but the purpose of KOL marketing in China is no longer limited to just that. Brands are looking forward to becoming more diverse and helping to expand the overall marketing connection. Advertisers have three main goals for KOL marketing in 2023: product cultivation (74%), brand communication (65%) and conversion (64%)
The evaluation indicators for KOL brand marketing activities are dissemination power (achieving awareness), merchandise promotion (driving sales) and product cultivation (strengthening brand recall), while brand marketing activities offer different appeals.
Audience expansion: fan appeal, dissemination power
Brand recall: content influence, dissemination power
Thematic node detonation: dissemination power, fan appeal, and product promotion power
New product promotion: dissemination power, power of product promotion
Long-term conversion: fan appeal, content influence, dissemination power
The differentiated positioning and focus of Chinese platforms have led to different user structures. Therefore, multi-site development and multi-platform collaboration have become the latest trends and diversified drainage while achieving joint success can promote brand growth.
Comparing the differences between each platform
WeChat: social acquisition platform, spontaneous dissemination of major events, and viral swiping of moments
Kuaishou: Responding to people as a platform, inclusive mechanism, trustworthy e-commerce, strong repurchase rate
Douyin: Super large traffic pool, efficient streaming delivery, fast conversion of low customer orders
Weibo: A public entertainment venue, a national exposure engine, and a hot search across the country
Bilibili: A platform for young people, UP content creator mainly focuses on in-depth content and immersive impact cognition
Xiaohongshu: Trend leader, KOC co-creates and explores new tracks to seize the mind
The figure shows the brands' goals for using KOLs on major social media platforms. Among them, Douyin and Kuaishou have a global marketing mentality, WeChat and Weibo consider brand exposure as their biggest advantage; Xiaohongshu and Bilibili are quite effective in product cultivation.
The following are the user magnitude, characteristics and industry characteristics of major Chinese platforms. Overall, users focusing on the beauty and food and beverage industries account for the largest proportion.
Weibo (national social platform)
MAU: 580 million
User profile: More female users, younger users, and more users from top-tier cities
Industry profile: Industry bias is not strong
Douyin (national traffic stage)
MAU: 700 million
User profile: Balanced ratio of male and female users, the balanced age distribution of users, and many users in top-tier cities
Industry profile: Compared to other platforms, users from the automotive industry make up a significant proportion
Kuaishou (hinterland of trust culture)
MAU: 600 million
User profile: Balanced ratio of male and female users, the balanced age distribution of users, and a high proportion of users in lower-tier cities
Industry profile: Industry bias is not strong
Bilibili (a product-longing community for young people)
MAU: 310 million
User profile: Balanced male and female users, with the highest proportion of young users and more users in lower-tier cities
Industry profile: Compared to other platforms, users of smart consumer electronics account for a significant proportion
Xiaohongshu ( a gathering place for female characters)
MAU: 200 million
User profile: “she” attribute is significant, and there are more users in top-tier cities
Industry profile: Compared with other platforms, users of beauty makeup and mothers and babies account for a significant proportion
Compared to 2021, the overall number of KOLs in 2022 has increased by 14%, of which KOCs accounted for the largest proportion (76%). Among the numerous platforms, Xiaohongshu has become the platform with the highest proportion of KOCs, accounting for 81%. China’s overall digital human influence market is growing steadily, but virtual KOLs have grown significantly too with a YoY increase of 292%.
Two pain points faced by KOL marketing
1. Content uncertainty: how to filter out influencers that fit your brand to create high-quality content
2. Uncertainty in spreading impact: how to expand influencer outreach and brand collaboration to attract accurate traffic with high-quality content across the board and convert it into actual sales
Brand KOL selection method
Measure the CPE of the talent
Measure the KOL impact according to business and industry benchmarks provided by major platforms
Accurate content labelling
Intelligent talent selection
In addition, cross-borders and circle-breaking is inevitably good way to break through the predicament, and diversifying content can drive traffic. To ensure long-term marketing, it is imperative to integrate talent and brand accounts and create a matrix for influencer self-broadcasting
Other ways to drive brand marketing effectiveness
Screen dominance rate SDR - Closely related to e-commerce conversion - According to the comparison of 11-11 e-commerce data in the same period, Xiaohongshu’s search scene highly overlaps with the top 10 brands in the Tmall beauty category, with a ratio of up to 70% - Content marketing effectiveness evaluation and adult placement decisions can be carried out as needed
Social ROI cross-domain longing attribution - It can scientifically evaluate the conversion efficiency of KOL’s product-longing posts on e-commerce post-links, and quickly find high-quality longing stickers for agile promotion
Segment consumers based on demographic attributes (gender, age, etc.), demographic insights (based on customers’ expressions on social media), and interest groups. Then, the index data is used according to the labels of different groups of people or customized topics, to find influential KOLs within the circle or topic, and realize the radiation of different circles and consolidation of the brand image among topics
“Alternative KOL: Virtual Human”
With the progress of time, the commercial value of virtual humans has soared rapidly, and they have also gained a share in the Chinese marketing circle. According to the Miaozhen Mingjian system, the volume of virtual humans has increased by 292% compared with last year. Weibo and Bilibili are the main platforms for the development of virtual humans, accounting for nearly 70%, with rates of 31% and 28% respectively. Currently, the virtual human class is mainly concentrated in the major platforms' lower- and middle-tier (T4 & T5). As for the direction of cooperation, in addition to brand marketing in various industries, virtual humans also participate in social responsibility marketing (e.g., public welfare activities) and public services (e.g., promoting traditional Chinese culture).
Top 10 virtual humans with the most commercial value
Love and producer
In addition, Miaozhen launched the “Virtual Human Business Value Evaluation Model”, which objectively evaluates the commercial value of virtual humans based on the three dimensions of attractiveness, activity, and business practice, and combines it with Miaozhen’s algorithm model to facilitate the selection of virtual KOLs that fit the brands.
In summary, KOLs are the primary brand marketing method in the Chinese market. Therefore, the selection of marketing platforms and KOLs is significant. It is necessary to accurately locate the target group while aligning with the brand image. In addition, virtual KOLs are also a modern marketing trend.