Unilever, the world's second-largest advertiser, announced it will no longer collaborate with influencers who have purchased followers.
The company has already cancelled partnerships with influencers they determined purchased followers to focus on influencer with legitimate audiences.
Accorcing to Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed:
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.
Weed's point is pretty important because influencer marketing works because of trust.
People trust creators because they produce content that they feel connected to. Creators trust brands to respect the work they put into content creation. And of course, brands trust influencer creators to produce quality content that tells people about their product. Without trust between everyone, the system that works so well now would break down
Fake followers is receiving increased media attention over the last few months. On top of that, Google searches related to identifying fake followers has increased dramatically n
Fake followers are machine-generated profiles that attempt to imitate human behavior on social media. They can be purchased through companies or apps that are specially made for the job. These profiles like and comment on creator pages to give the impression that a post and page are more popular than they really are.
The attention is an indicator of how brands are becoming more aware of the issue.
The concept of buying followers has been around since the beginning of social media. A small percentage of social media users buy follows and engagement to appear more influential. Having a large following is cool and wins people social points.
The issue is when those fake followers are used to convince brands they should offer fake influencers cash and free products for advertisements. That means brands waste time and money. There is no return on investment when a big chunk of the audience doesn't exist.