Just as small startups are disrupting traditional companies, individual online celebrities are changing the advertising market. It’s not dominated by a big entertainment company who owns thousands of top stars, but an individual with a strong talent can also convince consumers to open their wallets.

Over the past few years, Key Opinion Leaders (KOL, 网红 wǎnghóng in Chinese) or online influencers, have successfully dominated Chinese social media platforms like Weibo, WeChat and live streaming apps. Overseas companies expanding to the Middle Kingdom are now using these KOLs to drive more traffic and raise brand awareness. According to the 2017 Wanghong Career Report  (in Chinese) released last month, 54% of the new university graduates polled want to become a KOL.

Overseas brands and companies rely on KOL marketing to enter China market because they are effective. According to Elijah Whaley, CMO of PARKLU, the average engagement results for KOL campaigns are six times higher than brand campaigns, and three times higher than brands’ own sales campaigns. KOLs are paid to create original content and then amplify that content on their own social media accounts.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com