2017 KOL Marketing: Spot Fake Weibo Influencers In 3min

KOL marketing stands for Key Opinion Leaders marketing.

The definition of KOL marketing is pretty similar to Influencer marketing in many ways:

Both includes internet famous people and social media promotions. Which means both are facing the same challenges, for instance: Fake followers

As the prominent Chinese social media platform for KOL marketing, Weibo is occupied by all kinds of influencers. Some, like the famous zhang dayi, or Mr. Handbags, has the power to generate tens of thousands million sales. There are also others, whom bought their followers.

Chinese influencers are not cheap, so I am gonna show a quick way to spot fake Weibo influencers.

Hope this method can help your KOL marketing strategy, especially if you are going to work with local marketing agencies, this can help you perform due diligent with the KOLs.

The shady business of buying Weibo followers

If there is one place you can buy anything in the world, it is Taobao.com

For 10 RMB, you can get 10k followers. If you are willing to pay more, the followers will like, repost and comment on your post.

The low entry barrier is part of the reason why Weibo is full of bought bots, the other reason being many Weibo influencers have been signed to agencies, therefore buying followers and engagement is more of the agency’s action.

I would like to emphasis, when working with local agencies, always do due diligent! Because the last thing you want is to associated your brand with fake accounts. Some big and globally well known brands are also the victims, for example Kiehl’s.

After all Chinese social media marketing is very different, successful experience elsewhere doesn’t mean it will work in China.


Calculate ROI for KOL Marketing

Weibo’s new algorism allows 10% – 15% of impression for each post. Which is to say:

A micro influencers with 7k followers will have 700 – 1000 impressions, EMV (Earned Media Value) for 1 post from the KOL is only around 15 RMB.

Read more about how to calculate EMV (Earned Media Value) for Weibo influencers.

Step 1. Check Follower number

Accordingly, over 80% of the influencers in China are fashion and beauty related, this is also the industries that pays the most to influencers. In order to get free stuff and money from brands, influencer buy followers to make themselves stand out.

Micro influencers are accounts with less than 10k followers. Micro influencers is not popular, nor qualified to be consider as part of the KOL marketing strategy.


10k – to 100k followers makes a decent, dedicated yet influential profile.

200k – 500k Personally, I think this is the segment with the most fake influencers.

Which makes sense, because anyone with over 500k followers are some what known, therefore a 200 – 500k followers is suitable for free lancer models, beauty bloggers and less known actress.

Over 500k followers, the account is at least somewhat known. If you’ve never heard about this person, or have problem understanding why the account would attract huge number of followers, then chances are it is fake.


Step 2. Check Engagement numbers

Weibo Engagement metrics: Repost, Like and Comments.

I normally disregard the repost and like numbers, because it’s really cheap to buy. Many fake accounts buys hundreds or thousands repost and like numbers, but no comment🚩

It can happen that some influencers choose to turn off their comment section, so no one can make comment, but these kind of account would most likely state this in their bio. just in case you don’t miss a good one.


Step 3. Skim Through Comments

Fake comments are very easy to spot, therefore Comment is one of the most important index for identify fake followers.

Bot comments are different in 3 ways:

  1. Comments are short, vague, general and positive, there is a clear lack of interest and passion in the commentsE.g: 
    I use this brand too!
    Very good item, very useful!
    This is a great outfit!
    This product is so good

2. Since it’s bots firing comments, you are most likely to see the same comments left by different accounts.

quickly go through the comments to see if there are identical comments left by different accounts.

3. Influencers know which comments are from real followers, which are not. They would most likely ignore the fake ones. If the influencers answer only a few of the hundred comments, it further proves that fakeness of the engagement,

The exception being mommy blog and travel accounts. I’ve noticed, both categories are community orientated. They comments on each other’s posts often and have similar followers.

Mommy accounts can be engaging for real, after all it is one of the things Chinese pay the most attention and money for, but travellers is still on my suspicious list.

Step 4. Check posts content

KOL Marketing is popular for many brands. But if an KOL promote different products and brands frequently, I wouldn’t want to work with them.

Beauty influencers for example, can promote so many different brands all the time, but if an account has been promote clothes after watches after food, either the KOL got paid to do all these, or the account is pure fake.

In general, KOLs on Weibo have more followers than influencers on Instagram. But as always, a high follower number, or a big ass influencer can’t necessarily guarantee ROI. Your KOL marketing strategy needs to be tailored to your own need.

Personally I’ve gotten the most successful result from working with micro influencers, the key is to find the niche that suits the brand and product, micro influencers in the right niche would open up an engaged community.

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask me via Twitter , or go to consulting page to drop me a message


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