Diamonds In The Rough : Discovering Opinion Leads among influencers

By Roubeeni Mohan

In the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of influencers globally. Most times, we are left in a muddled state as we wonder if these influencers are providing us with honest reviews despite them claiming to give honest feedback.

Influencer advertising is one of the most common marketing strategies for many brands and businesses. It’s a good opportunity to engage with the online community. The value and validity of the material is the foundation of a good marketing strategy for influencers. Influencer marketing is a strong marketing tool with a stronger exchange on capital.

I had the privilege of speaking to one of Entrepreneur Insight’s 100 Malaysian’ Influential Young Entrepreneurs, Jerry Hang, founder of Moden KOL Academy (Moden KOL). Moden KOL was established in January 2019 and they conduct a three-day workshop where they train people who have the passion regardless of age to become a professional key opinion leader.

Moden KOL is working towards breaking stereotypes that influencers should be good looking and possess the ability to captivate audiences through their charms. What Moden KOL is trying to achieve here is to create influencers or KOLs who are knowledgeable and possess a good understanding of the product and brand they are representing.

“What we are looking for in a person is not based on age and looks. We want to produce KOLs who have the expertise, knowledge and passion regardless of age. The three-day workshop is conducted to soften the rough edges and train them in personal branding, personal image, copywriting, video shooting and editing, and social media management. The workshop also comprises coaching,” said Hang.

Hang started Moden KOL after being able to work with many youngsters who are Gen-Ys and Gen-Zs. He realised that these people want to do something fun and do not want to be working for other people in the long-run but they were clueless of the path they want to take.

Hang said, “When you ask these people what they really want to do, most of them answer that they want to start their own business but they do not have the capital to start their business. If you probe them a little deeper, they’ll tell you that they want to become influencers rather then to get onto the typical path of a nine-to-five job. Therefore, I saw an opportunity whereby we can conduct coaching sessions for these people and refine them, to do what they love and make money at the same time.”

In the past six months, Moden KOL has produced 210 KOLs. “We actually consider ourselves to be very lucky and privileged. We’ve never conducted any of these workshops offline. We had only advertised via social media, and we managed to garner their attention,” he further added.

Hang also said it is fun working with KOLs from all ages. The Gen Ys and Gen Zs are more technology-savvy, whereas Gen Xs have more knowledge and expertise. It is an experience of its own to see them all come under one platform and work together.

There’s a vast difference between how Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z grew up. Whilst Gen X grew up with more hands-on experiences where they were more exposed to the outdoors, Gen Y and Gen Z grew up in an era where they were exposed to the Internet.

Their outlook of things is different compared to that of Gen X. This is why Hang said that most Gen Xs view these younger generations as people with no proper self-discipline and lack focus.

“Furthermore, when Gen Xs were entering into the workforce they had to get into mainstream jobs, whereas for Gen Y and Zs they can earn money from the internet without having to go out and work in an office space. This is where the generational gap arises,” Hang added.

This is where Moden KOL comes into place as they try to narrow this generation gap by producing KOLs who have the right expertise.
When I asked Hang what does it take to break a stereotype and the challenges he had to go through, he said the main thing was to understand their mentality. Furthermore, it is paramount to communicate with them to identify their true interests and strengths.

Speaking about the course itself, Hang said that it is important to know how to channel these future KOLs into the right path, as the internet is just one of many mediums, apart from social media, and one has to choose properly.

KOLs are set apart from influencers because; influencers they tend to be a jack of all trades but KOLs focus on one product and have a proper understanding of the product they are representing, and that is what Hang and his team at Moden KOL are aiming at.

Moden KOL focuses on branding a person, and when asked what does branding means to him personally, Hang said, “Never do something just for the money. You have to be passion-driven that is when you will be able to give your best. Branding itself brings a lot of contexts and it is about why you do what you do. A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on money rather than on their passion. This is because when you do something that you like or love, you will be able to give your best, and therefore that will become your branding.”

Hang also said, winning the 100MIYE award in 2019 was such an honour and an acknowledgement and it also helped with his business branding. “The award does not only give us encouragement but it also elevates the faith of our stakeholders in us. Despite being a young organisation, to receive such an award is truly an honour.”

It is a breath of fresh air to see someone tapping into a sector that not many people would have given importance to. Seeing influencers mushrooming on social media will obviously raise eyebrows as to how authentic their reviews are, but a true KOL will be able to answer your questions regarding a product or service they are representing when you reach out to them.