The Power of Influencing

Micro-influencers, better known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), are paving the way in China’s ever-booming social media industry. But today, it’s no question that everyone on the internet wants to become famous. Rising above the billions of social media users, how do these KOLs stand out and even gain the opportunity to make money with their enormous following?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward formula for becoming a KOL. Typically, being an influencer requires creating trust and building a loyal audience through a range of different techniques, from sharing advice, reviewing products, posting comedic videos, to documenting a lifestyle aspect. According to Xiao Lu, co-founder of KOL management company Chenxin Culture, she stressed the importance of “making a certain impact on specific areas and people and continuing to deliver valuable content.” From her years of experience, she also recommended existing and upand-coming KOLs to “pay more attention to trends, as well as new micro-trends within their own niche.”

In terms of making money, Chinese KOLs have two main options. By hosting live streams on platforms like Douyin or Tmall, fans can send the KOLs a “gift,” which is an in-app currency that can be converted into real money. A second option is brand endorsements and partnerships. However, keep in mind: social media exists for individuals to make connections. Therefore, aspiring KOLs should always maintain authenticity with their fanbase instead of placing money as the sole priority.