How to select an influencer/KOL

How to select an influencer/KOL

KOLs are all the rage in Hong Kong and are an integral part of most social media and digital strategies these days. Here we'll teach you how to approach the KOL selection process.

1. When looking at KOLs, think about whether they really are KOLs.

The term has been watered down quite a bit, but at the heart of everything, KOL stands for "Key Opinion Leader". A key opinion leader is someone who provides unique insight and expertise on their field of interest. Someone who truly has a unique opinion to offer on the subject matter. In Hong Kong, some key opinion leaders include Uncle Siu's British English Club (specializes in English), Elva Ni (certified Yoga Instructor), and Elaine Li (photography). These people truly have expertise in their fields.

Contrary to popular belief, an influencer is not someone who just looks pretty and stands in front of a camera. And when you select a KOL/Instagram blogger/Facebook page you should not select based just on reach. The first question you should ask yourself is whether they really are an influencer.

2. Reach is not everything, and remember to account for algorithms.

Clients tend to look at the reach, and the reach only. But that's only one piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we need to achieve our objectives. If your objective is to get more User Generated Content (UGC) or drive more sign-ups on your landing page - then reach should not be the sole focus.

When estimating reach figures, do not ever take the total number of fans of an influencer and pass it off as reach. With every platform, there is an algorithm that limits the reach for a certain post. On Facebook this is about 1-5%, and on Instagram this might be 10% (very rough numbers).

3. Be wary of influencers who buy followers.

Many "KOLs" may buy influencers. Be careful when selecting these influencers. How can you tell? Look at their total follower base, then select a few posts and see how many Likes and Comments the posts have received. If the ratio to followers is ridiculously low, then it could be an indicator.

4. Use Influencers for branding and awareness

In our experiences, influencers are best used for branding and awareness. Try not to use them for direct-response related activities. Using influencers to drive app installs and UGC contests are typically not a good idea.

5. Always budget extra time in working with influencers.

Influencers are not the same as those who also work in the marketing industry. They are in the business of creating content for themselves, working within their expertise. They are not marketing professionals and therefore typically do not understand brand needs from a marketing perspective.

Be prepared to set aside extra time to work with influencers so make sure your brand objectives are met. Don't overlook things like copy and creative. The KOL is kind of like you managing an Art Director on your team.

6. There are other ways to reach the same audience.

You don't always need to pay the KOL to reach their audience. Prices for KOLs in Hong Kong are quite pricey. Luckily, there are social media buying techniques that allow you to reach a similar audience.

At Catalyst we're experts at doing this. Get in touch with Catalyst at