Have to say, KOL is an essential “tools” on WeChat Marketing, but just like our last blog post “WeChat KOL Demystification: The Dark Side of WeChat KOL” talked, well-known KOLs cost a lot,  KOLs on some platforms may not reliable. So Potential KOL is a better choice for WeChat Marketing. So, another question goes out, how to find your Potential KOL?

  1. What is Potential KOL?

Potential KOLs usually managed by individuals, which cost lower than well-known KOLs,’ considering their current limited fans base, and limited operating cost but might grow up to good ones in the near future.

That means, the Potential KOL is on the growth stage. These Potential KOLs needs chances to show their potential and get more exposure, and you can give them a hand, when they grow up, they will be your real loyal KOL of high gold content and creates great value for you.

  1. Differences between Potential KOL & Well-known KOL

We have researched more than 1,000 Potential and Well-known KOL accounts, collected their major metrics such as number of fans, WeChat search ranking on generic terms query, content likes, number of contents reposted and so on. Here we will explicate the differences between Potential KOL and Well-known KOL from following important metrics, which may give you some ideas to research and evaluate a suitable Potential KOL.

Potential KOL Well-known KOL
Fans Number 2K-20K 20K+
WeChat  Search Ranking on Generic Terms Query >15 ≤15
Content viewship 500 to 4,000 ≥4,000
Contents Likes <1% of views ≥1% of views
Number of Comments on the Content <0.2% of views ≥0.2% of views
Contents Reposted <0.5% of views ≥0.5% of views
Content Tipped by Reader <0.1% of views ≥0.1% of views
Account Nature ≥75% Personal Account ≥60% Corporate Account
Certificated Account ≥70%No ≥80%Yes
Register Time <3 years ≥3 years
Related Accounts on Other Social Platforms <4 ≥4
Cooperation Model Small fee or sponsor with products Substantial fee or revenue sharing for Group buying
  1. How to research & evaluate a potential KOL?

Generally, I follow the below sequence to research and evaluate potential KOLs step by step, which is time consuming, but it’s definitely worth the efforts.

  1. Keywords research

It’s always starting with keywords research. With search marketing background, you can easily find generic keywords that related to your business. These keywords should be highly related, short, common, targeted. For example, if you are a children’s books publisher, you might consider searching “children’s story books”, “bed-time story”, “early education”, even your brand’s name. From those keywords search result page on Wechat search, you will identify a long list of KOLs.

  1. WeChat search ranking on generic terms query.

Once you input your keywords and push the button of search, you will see many related article and accounts. For accounts, top 10 accounts displayed may all well-known KOLs. If you want to find potential KOLs, you might need to try on screen III or further.

Screen I                                                     Screen II  Screen III

WeChat search ranking on generic terms query.


  3.  Fans number.

We all know that getting your brand mentioned by account with more fans means more exposure, more traffic and more sales volume. But fans can be bought, and since we are not looking for established KOL with huge amount of fans, any account with fans of 2k to 10k would be qualified as a Potential KOL, and are worth of exploring further.

    4. Engagements.

1) Contents Viewership and Likes

Viewership can be used to judge the popularity of the content. However with the prevalent Exaggerating Titles as clickbait you may need to add Like as additional metric. However both Viewership and Like can be bought too, because bot can be controlled to click the link to the content and find the Like bottom and click. Therefore, quality over quantity, a potential KOL with a moderate number for viewership between 500 to 4,000, and Likes between 5 to 30 are good enough.

2)Number of Comments on the Content

Comment is probably the metric that can be hardly faked. Even it’s faked by bot, with manual check you can easily identify them. It’s also the most valuable metrics to indicate the affinity of the KOL account. It takes fans a substantial interest in or resonate strongly with some points to write down their idea and talk with the writer.

If Potential KOLs can achieve comments that is 0.2% of Viewership, that’s already shows the account’s healthy communications with readers and the owners’ willingness to build the community.

3)Contents Reposted

Contents repost is less difficult to do than Comments for human or bot. That’s why data shows that 0.5% rate is a good indicator for potential KOL.

4)Content Tipped by Reader

Contents Tipped by Reader is the most unique feature that Chinese social media has. Obviously it’s quite difficult to be controlled by bot, because it requires Wallet to tip. It’s the highest recognition of the content and writer by readers. It’s not easy to get rewards. First of all, you should have an Original Account. Only average 0.1% of readers would give a reward after they finish reading, this 0.1% is for well-known KOLs. So, if any Potential KOL has a number or any record of receiving tipping,  contact them.

  1. Account Information.

1)Account Nature.

For Potential KOLs, nearly 75% are Personal Account, only a small amount is Corporate Account, because most Corporate Account would have much more resource provided from the corporation. On the other hand, a Personal Account is filled with content of free-style and represents the writer own thoughts and personality. Readers sometime resonate with them better than corporate account.

2)Certificated Account

Please note that more than 70% Potential KOLs are not certificated Accounts. With limited resource these accounts managed by individual can hardly find time and resource to apply for a certification. So they can be a good bargain.

3)Register Time

A Potential KOL is still young, about three years old, while well-known KOL is five years old or older.

  1. Related Accounts on Other Social Platforms

After a long time of running, Well-known KOLs may have their related accounts on several other social media platforms like Weibo, Zhihu, Baijiahao, Douban, etc. to win more fans, but Potential KOLs, limited by capital, human resources and time, can just hardly run on one to three different platforms.

  1. Business – Cooperation Model

Cooperation model, maybe the utmost concern for marketers, who always like to get maximum media exposure with minimum investment, especially for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

Cooperating with Well-known KOLs cost a lot and the result is still not guaranteed; while with Potential KOL, you can consult with different models, by whether sponsoring their giveaway with your products or small amount of fee in exchanging for a post mentioning your brand or directly listing your WeChat QR code or simply reposting your WeChat content.

The downside is it takes a lot of efforts to negotiate with them one by one, and to handhold them getting their giveaway winner list and sending the sponsored gifts to their fans’ address. That’s why a  reliable Chinese social media marketing agency with rich filed experience matter so much.