Influencer marketing is nothing new. Celebrities—both real and created—long ago began gracing the celluloid frames of TV commercials, the pages of fashion magazines, and the airwaves, lending an extra something to a brand’s image.

The rise of the internet and the resultant democratization of the creation of media have led to the emergence of a new breed of influencers. These generally self-made individuals, with their millions of followers, represent substantial new opportunities for companies to leverage their influence and content creating skills to better engage with potential customers.

Online influencers, or key opinion leaders (KOLs), are huge in China, particularly in today’s changing online landscape. Traditional e-commerce platforms like Taobao and JD are becoming increasingly social, while social platforms like WeChat and Weibo are more focused on e-commerce. And because of this convergence, the presence of KOLs has become ever more noticeable.

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Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.