Sponsored content is quickly gaining attention in the West, but with a lack of trust associated with traditional advertising in China, the use of social influencers is already well established here. Last month, a study reported brands who use sponsored posts generate huge ‘amplification effects’ with recorded social engagement rates up to 6,000 times higher than a brand typically sees. So, with that in mind, what do you need to know before you enlist a KOL in China?1.What is their real influence?Don’t be dazzled by over-inflated figures that can be cheaply manipulated, but be sure to dive deeply into an account to assess the real influence of a KOL before deciding whether they are the right fit for your brand.Weibo has some useful metrics for measuring a KOL’s influence and there are other social scoring tools that can prove useful, but none more so than monitoring each account over a period of time to get a sense of real time interaction.2.Who is listening to them?Rather than reaching the masses, it’s important to understand whether a KOL has a following that matches your target demographic. Authenticity and relevancy are two key factors when it comes to a KOL’s influence, and often it’s the KOLs with a smaller, more niche audience who will offer the best return for your brand. These ‘influencers’ generally have a loyal and dedicated audience from commenting on a particular area of interest. Whether specializing in technology, food or even wine, they’ll often be considered an ‘expert’ in their field.Certain rules associated with different platforms may also impact the reach of a KOL’s content. With regulations constantly being updated, it’s important that brands activating social campaigns work with companies who have a strong grasp of the complex Chinese business landscape.3.What else are they saying?Unless you have a good grasp of the language, the KOL’s style and tone is not likely something that you will be able to garner from basic account monitoring. It’s important that posts match both the marketing tone of the campaign, and the tone, style and personality of the KOL’s own content. Some KOLs have created quite unique online personas, from humorous to cutesy, so it’s important to find one that suits.4.How are their followers responding?Reposts, comments, response to comments and likes are just a few ways that followers can respond to a KOL’s content and give a further indication of their online influence. Different content formats will also generate different responses. Live-streaming is having a huge moment particularly among Chinese Millennials right now, causing a L’Oreal lip balm promoted in a live stream from Cannes Film Festival to sell out in a few hours.