KOL & KOC: Who is Guiding Our Choices?

Who's Who

KOL stands for Key Opinion Leader, also known as Opinion Leader. A KOL is an expert in a certain field and usually creates its own professional content through various social media platforms such as Zhihu, Xiaohongshu, Tiktok, Weibo, etc. In other words, a person who attracts a large number of fans' attention and directly or indirectly affects their consumption behavior. From the perspective of personal success factors, a KOL relies on professional authority in a specific field, being trusted and recognized by fans. Online popularity relies on eye-catching content, focusing on exposure and popularity. The reason for their popularity can be recognized as professional authority, or it can be achieved by bringing entertainment to the masses. A KOL's fan base is characterized by an upward trajectory in a particular field, while online celebrity fanbases can be difficult to calculate, fan loyalty can be relatively low. In addition, the life cycle of an online celebrity is generally relatively short, and if there is no corresponding hardware and content support in the future pipeline, it is easy to lose popularity.

KOL Marketing: Where does it come from and where does it go

In recent years, as traffic dividends have been on the verge of extinction, and user perceptions and behavior patterns have changed, the online marketing industry has suffered heavy losses. Due to the high price and low conversion rate of KOLs, many advertisers have cut KOL budgets and at this time, the concept of KOCs quietly emerged.

KOLs & KOCs: What’s the difference?

KOC is short for Key Opinion Consumer, which refers to consumers who can influence the behavior of their friends and fans when making consumption decisions. A KOC has a small group effect: where a KOL may have 10000 fans, a KOC can have dozens or even just hundreds of fans. Compared to KOLs, KOCs have fewer fans, with the advantage of greater interactivity and higher user trust. Higher KOL conversion rates can affect the attention economy (how much the content can capture the user's attention span). Currently, most of the attention on the internet is focused on a few KOLs. The scarcity of KOLs means that the price of a KOL is high, even if the conversion rate of a KOL cannot be guaranteed. The conversion cost of KOCs is much cheaper than that of KOLs.

From the above definition, we can draw a very unexpected conclusion. Isn't a KOC the same as previous Taobao customers? Ultimately, yes! When you buy something on Taobao, you can create a dedicated promotional link. When a friend purchases through your link, you can receive exactly the same commission as today's giveaways, recommendations etc.


KOL is the head, while KOC is the tail. A KOC is not a new concept, but it has been hyped by many new media platforms at an appropriate time. At such a difficult juncture in digital marketing, the promotion effect is directly linked to KPI indicators. If large KOLs are charged by CPM, the price will be high and the effect difficult to measure, therefore, people are more inclined to adopt the CPS method. 

Each promotion method has its own life cycle, it is a process of ebb and flow. While KOLs have been popular for several years, the emergence of KOCs is growing rapidly. There is no right or wrong in KOL marketing. As long as you can achieve your sales goals, you can combine KOLs and KOCs. While KOLs work on traffic, you can use a large number of KOCs to influence small groups, achieving a promotion effect that combines quality and efficiency.

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Read our original article published on WeChat at:  KOL & KOC: Who is Guiding Our Choices?