Unilever gets tough with the online influencers

Cornelia Mascio
Giugno 19, 2018

Believe it or not, many influencers have bought followers to beef up their accounts.

At the time Weed said 'We can not have an environment where our consumers don't trust what they see online, ' said Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed'. Unilever said it found some of the influencers it was using were buying followers in some instances.

Brand-selling behemoth Unilever, which makes what you're eating and what you smell of, has had it with influencers and their fake followers.

"However, some bad apples risk spoiling the barrel by undermining trust through bad practices like as fake followers, bots, fraud or any dishonest business models", he said. The company spent almost US$9.5 billion (NZ$13.7b) in 2017 marketing its brands, and of that, about US$2.4b (NZ$3.46b) on digital advertising. An August 2017 study by Rakuten Marketing showed that British marketers working on influencer programmes were willing to pay celebrities on Facebook up to, or more than US$100,000 (NZ$144,261) for a single post giving a shoutout to their brand.

Influencers can reap tens of thousands of dollars on one-hit promotions alone. When it came to fashion marketers, fees per post hit more than US$210,000 (NZ$302,949). Weed declined to tell Reuters how much Unilever paid its own influencers.

Weed said of his table-upending plan: "The key to improving the situation is three-fold: cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices; and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact".

Earlier this year, Unilever threatened to pull digital advertising from Facebook and Google citing a "toxic" environment online. "We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it's gone forever".

Nonetheless, the intention is clear, says Weed, reiterating his long-held belief that marketers need to rebuild trust back into the digital ecosystem and wider society and that platforms need to help eradicate fraud themselves. "Their power comes from a deep, authentic and direct connection with people, but certain practices like buying followers can easily undermine these relationships".

"Some platforms already do things in this area, but they have to do it at a larger scale and with more transparency, so the industry can be reassured that the influencers on their platforms are not using these practices", he said.

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