Unilever Cuts Social Media Influencers Who Buy Fake Followers


Ad Giant Unilever Fights Back Against Fake Followers and Bots

Unilever, the world’s second largest advertising company, has decided to let go of some of their social media promoters in order to boost transparency and authenticity.

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Hundreds of brands currently partner with social and digital media influencers to promote their content and, although these partnerships can be a mutually beneficial marketing method, some influencers have taken it upon themselves to enhance their audience numbers by buying followers on social media.

The goal behind this shady practice is to seem more appealing to companies that are willing to pay influencers thousands, or even millions, to promote their branded messages. In a statement given to Reuters, Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed says,

“Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback, and we could very quickly see the whole influencer space be undermined. There are lots of great influencers out there, but there are a few bad apples spoiling the barrel and the trouble is, everyone goes down once the trust is undermined.”

Keith Weed pledged yesterday that the company will stop working with digital media influencers who buy followers. Unilever is also prioritizing social media platforms that fight back against scams.

Back in February, Unilever also made headlines for threatening to cut ties with Facebook and Google if they did not make efforts to improve transparency and get rid of ‘fake news’ bogging down their platforms.

Fake Influencers Put Influencer Marketing at Risk

Influencer marketing has turned into a billion dollar industry and some of the biggest brands in the world have used digital celebrities, Youtubers, and other influencers to make content about their products or services.

However, like with any fast-growing market, toxicity has managed to find its way in. If allowed to continue, fake influencers can tarnish this marketing method and discourage brands from working with influencers.

The fake followers that influencers buy are usually bots; machine-generated profiles who automatically like, comment, or share posts under the guise of true engagement.

These fake bots hurt brands who are essentially paying money to get content in front of people who don’t exist. It also makes it exceedingly difficult for marketers to measure true impressions engagement, or success rates of an influencer marketing campaign. This could lead to poor return on digital investment and it could position the company, instead of the influencer, in a bad light.

This is why it is so important for brands to be cautious about which influencers they choose to promote their content.

According to Reuters, Peter Storck, co-founder of influencer marketing measurement firm Points North Group, says Unilever, as well as other companies, have “fallen prey” to fake influencers and bots.

Weed has not said how much Unilever paid its influencers and that it doesn’t have a “major issue” with fake followers after getting rid of the troublemakers.

Have you used influencer marketing? If so, what have you done to curb fake influencers? Continue the conversation in the comments.