Business Development with KOLs in Web3: Unleashing Growth
There is one metric that rules them all, and that’s growth.
Revenue growth, community growth, MAU growth. The labels change depending on where you’re located, on the business landscape but the underlying principle does not:
Grow, or die.
We’ve witnessed significant changes in business since 2017 with the emergence of Web3 technologies. Due to it’s decentralized nature, Web3 is transforming the way businesses operate, and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are playing an increasingly important role in this transformation.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of business development with KOLs in Web3, and how it can unlock opportunities for growth.
First, quickly some basics…
What is Web3?
Web3, also known as the decentralized web, is a new version of the internet that operates on and alongside blockchain technology. Unlike the traditional internet, which is centralized, Web3 is decentralized, meaning that no single entity has control over it.
Web3 is based on the principles of transparency, immutability, and decentralization, and it provides users with more control over their data, money/wealth and online identity.
What are KOLs?
Not to be confused with “influencers”, the parenthesis being used to highlight the lack of influence of these bot farmed accounts, who initially look good but under further examination, turn out to be spam factories. Unfortunately, in Web3 there’s been a large financial incentive for too long for these zero value merchants.
KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders, are individuals who have significant influence and authority in a particular field or industry. They are recognized for their knowledge, expertise, and ability to create buzz around a particular topic or product. The most KOLs are always niche specific and are contributing value to the crypto niche.
How can KOLs help with business development in Web3?
Let’s be real: sometimes KOLs can be a horrible waste of marketing budget. In Web3 unfortunately, in most cases this is due to the KOLs not being legit. Less frequently because of a brand/audience mismatch.
Here are some ways in which KOLs can help businesses on the decentralized web:
1. Building brand awareness and credibility
In Web3, businesses need to establish themselves as trustworthy and credible entities. KOLs can help with this by talking genuinely about your business, preferably without shilling, sharing their knowledge and experience, building awareness around your brand with their community.
2. Providing access to a wider audience
KOLs have a sizeable audience who trust their opinion on social media, and they can use their influence to help businesses reach a broader audience. By partnering with KOLs, brands can tap into their network and gain access to potential customers who might not have been aware of the brand otherwise.
3. Driving engagement and interaction
Web3 is all about creating a community and engaging deeply with them. KOLs can help your businesses with this by creating content, participating in discussions, and driving engagement with their followers. By doing so, KOLs can help businesses establish a loyal following and build a strong community around their brand.
This is a tricky tightrope to walk in web3 because the question of motivation/agenda is always in play. Community almost universally see being paid by a brand as rocky ground for a KOL. Are they being truthful or are they just getting paid?
How to onboard KOLs?
First we need to make a big mindset shift and accept some hard truths that a lot of Web3 CEO’s struggle with.
For any decent KOLs the respect of their community and their reputation will trump any pay check you will pay them.
If they don’t care about their community/audience, then there’s a high probability they didn’t work very hard building it up over time. It is possible to buy followers and engagement and there are many who do it.
To quote the eternally wise philosopher Obi-Wan: these are not the influencers you’re looking for…
This mismatch in ideals is the biggest sticking point with onboarding KOLs. As a business, you need to consider why a KOL might want to work with your brand. And when you approach them, know that their DMs are being besieged by brands trying to pay them to promote their products.
A short list of things you need to have thought of before approaching so you don’t waste your time:
- How am I standing out from the noise in their inbox?
- Have they ever worked with brands before? In what capacity?
- How am I saying as much as possible with as few words as possible? Respect their time and the mental place they are in reading your message.
- Have I considered what stage of the market cycle we are currently in and how that will affect everything KOL related?
- What is my irresistible offer?
It’s not always all about the money. You can be creative here but remember just because you have a high degree of confidence in the future of your token does not mean they (a total stranger) will.
- Have I thought sufficiently about what’s in this for them? How is this creating a win:win:win?
Top tip: if you approach them with a well thought out, obviously well researched, highly personal message that contains an irresistible offer, it will dramatically improve your chances of success. To 10x those chances get an introduction to the KOL through someone they trust.
Onboarding KOLs is not something you are going to do successfully two weeks out from a launch directly yourself.
In the event you are that close to the wire you are going to need to hire an influencer wrangler. Someone who already has established relationships with the right influencers for your project.
Here is a good place to start if you’re in that situation:
>> Craic Digital
How to identify the right KOLs for your business in Web3?
Identifying the right KOLs for your business in Web3 can be a daunting task, not least because of the time required to research the KOLs. However, it is essential to ensure that you’re partnering with the right individuals who align with your brand values and goals.
Here are some tips for identifying the right KOLs for your business:
1. Research and analyze their social media presence
Before partnering with a KOL, it’s essential to research their social media presence, analyze their content, engagement rates, and the type of audience they attract. This will help you determine if the KOL is a good fit for your brand. It will also help you weed out KOLs who do not really have any influence.
2. Look for KOLs who align with your brand values and goals
It’s important to partner with KOLs who share the same values and goals as your brand. This will ensure that the partnership is authentic, and the KOL can represent your brand in the best possible way.
3. Consider the type of content the KOL creates
The type of content the KOL creates is an essential factor to consider for two reasons:
First — it’s important to partner with KOLs who create content that aligns with your brand’s messaging and resonates with your target audience, and
Second — different content takes different amounts of time to create. The lead time to getting any growth from a YouTube video, for example, versus a tweet is substantially different because of the production time required.
KOLs can be powerful allies and are an essential part of any marketing/BD strategy designed to have a high probability of success. By leveraging the influence and reach of KOLs, businesses can build brand awareness, reach a wider audience, and establish a loyal following more quickly.
However, they can also be extremely difficult to reach and onboard, and when onboard can be costly and time consuming to manage.
They can hype new products or offerings with greater intensity, which is something you should want if your product is ready enough to be worthy of the hype.
Conversely, if it’s not ready for market, hype is a dangerous tool that could backfire.
So tread carefully, think clearly and execute your KOL strategy with a longer term vision.
Perhaps most importantly, dismiss one shot wonder arrangements.
Look to build a long-term relationship with KOLs that align with your culture and brand.
Design an irresistible offer that means if your brand wins, they really win and talk about engagements in terms of months/years, not single content engagements.