At this point, there is little doubt that the internet has been an extremely disruptive force. The disruption has brought about several changes that have been generally positive. Business is still completed every day. In many cases, business is just completed in different ways than it was about five years ago, and definitely a decade to 20 years ago. The innovation the internet has ushered in has developed opportunities for entrepreneurs to succeed. Those who wish to become fashion designers, makeup professionals, or entertainers have found a new route. That route is known as key opinion leaders sometimes also referred to as influencers.
What are Key Opinion Leaders?
Key Opinion Leaders, also known as KOLs, are authoritative people in at least one specific area of knowledge. Before the internet began to create new segments of the labor force, KOLs were most often experts who were called to testify in court on any given topic and those who were interviewed by news anchors on any particular topic, too. When there is an earthquake, for example, a seismologist is often interviewed by various news channels to find out what happened and what the public should be doing in the following hours.
Today, KOLs are still those experts; they can just be found using different channels. YouTube is one of the most common places a KOL can be found by searching particular keywords. They have large followings and a dedicated audience that forms a community which regards them as a KOL in a particular subject. Makeup and fashion are two categories where KOLs have found success.
Should You Change Your Marketing Plan?
To determine whether or not you should change your marketing plan to incorporate KOLs, you have to figure out how your current plan is performing. Then, evaluate the marketing methods you are currently using. Many use social media and kol marketing to capture a segment of the market; they are unable to reach using their current strategies, and that is to be expected. History is going to remember the current young generation as an outlier. They were taught to live without boundaries and to keep reaching for their dreams no matter what. And they are. This also makes them one of the least traditionalist generations the world has seen in a while.
Are Key Opinion Leaders the Same as Influencers?
There is currently a debate that is trying to figure out if KOLs are the same as influencers. The side leaning toward no seems to be winning. This is not to take anything away from influencers and the success they are having. What it does in business, though, is force the decision-makers to make tough choices. At the end of the day, can an influencer sell? If there is no uptick in sales or profit, was there at least some measurable increase in brand awareness? KOLs are receiving more attention due to successful influencers who became key opinion leaders in their community. Then, that success translated into sales for their business partners. In 2015, the Jacklyn Hill and Becca Cosmetics business partnership for Champagne Pop was successful. Natasha Oakley, Zoe Foster Blake, and Danielle Bernstein are three examples of influencers who began their own fashion and clothing lines.
How Do I Find a Key Opinion Leader?
The way you find a Key Opinion Leader is to search for one online. Then, you can visit their social media channels and evaluate their following. There are tools that help you determine the demographics of their following to see if they match your desired target audience. Plus, you want to ensure their brand and messaging matches yours, or you are willing to accept who they are. Lastly, contact them. Their contact information is often listed on their social media bios for easy business partnership requests. There are several reasons why integrating key opinion leaders in your marketing plan makes sense. You just have to find one that best fits your goals and expected rate of return.
The changes that have taken place in the last five years have been swift and drastic. It is OK to meet the changes with some skepticism because it forces you to research and make an informed decision.