Working with Chinese key opinion leaders (KOLs) can increase brand reach and engagement on China’s top mobile messaging app WeChat, but the influencers with the most readers aren’t always the ones generating the highest engagement rates.
In fact, L2’s China: KOLs Insight Report finds that the most famous fashion KOLs vary widely by their number of post views and likes on WeChat, with little correlation between these two measurements.
Among KOLs mentioning Index Luxury brands, a small but clear WeChat “A-list” of those with high readership and engagement has emerged. Top internet celebrities (wanghong, 网红) Gogoboi and BoyNam, known for their frequent red-carpet appearances alongside movie stars at the most fashionable events in China, are among the leaders for post view numbers with an above-average number of likes per post. But the main winners for engagement rates are bloggers Yao Jing Bian’er (妖精边儿) and Mr. Kira (吉良先生), who have tens of thousands fewer average views than the superstars yet over 1.5 times the average number of likes. Handbag blogger Mr. Bags (包先生), who has done promotions for Burberry, Givenchy, Fendi, and Longchamp in recent months, comes in second after Gogoboi for average views per post, yet sees below-average engagement.
KOL posts about celebrity weddings were especially useful for boosting engagement for brands mentioned. Among watch and jewelry brands, Bulgari saw a 4% higher share of engagement than mentions in posts by KOLs thanks in large part to a popular post by Gogoboi about the wedding between Chinese superstars Wallace Huo and Ruby Lin at the brand’s Bali resort. In addition, Gogoboi’s post about the wedding between actors Liu Shishi and Wu Qilong helped De Beers see 8% of all watch and jewelry engagement despite being mentioned in only 1% of KOL posts for this category.
As WeChat’s 1:1 format does not facilitate social sharing on a scale like the Twitter-like Weibo, the app’s top bloggers offer brands a way to gain reach among a wider audience. In addition to high reach and engagement on the app, partnering with the right KOLs can also help brands facilitate sales or launch omnichannel promotions with in-store appearances by these online stars, who can use WeChat to promote events to their loyal fans.