Business development · 22 June 2018

Unilever cracks down on influencers who buy fake followers

Many businesses use influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategy.
The consumer goods company pledges not to work with online influencers who pay for their followers or have a fake following.

Influencers are only becoming a huge part of marketing strategies, and for brands like Unilever (which spent?$9bn on brand marketing last year) illegitimate engagement on social media can become detrimental.

Despite the commonness of fraud, businesses continue to pump their money into influencer marketing, as£75%of marketers paid influencers to promote their products and half planned to increase their budget for this marketing strategy.

Commenting on this, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, at the Cannes Lions Festival announced: “At Unilever, we believe influencers are an important way to reach consumers and grow our brands.

their power comes from a deep, authentic and direct connection with people, but certain practices like buying followers can easily undermine these relationships.”

This follows a wider push to battle digital fraud, create better experiences for consumers and improve brands? ability to measure impact.

The three commitments by Unilever are:

  • Transparency from Influencers: Unilever will not work with influencers who buy followers.
  • Transparency from Brands: Unilever’s brands will never buy followers.
  • Transparency from Platforms:Unilever will prioritise partners who increase transparency and help eradicate bad practices throughout the whole ecosystem.?
Weed added: “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; andimproving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.

“We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”

In the recent years, influencers have driven their prices higher and higher with the top 20 most-follwed Insta idols earning up to $550k per post.

But as these costs rose, Unilever began to monitor follower quality and engagement. What they found was that 20% of mid-level influencers? followers are fake.

Paul Kahn of Upfluence, an influencer marketing company, said: Unilever uses followers to figure out how much to pay someone.

‘so when people claim to have 50% more followers than they actually do and Unilever pays them millions it’s a real problem.



Influencer marketing: An essential guide to celebrity product endorsement

Grid Law founder David Walker explains the mechanics of product endorsements and provides a how-to guide to running a lawful influencer marketing campaign.


Instagram says it blocks millions of fake accounts every day and works hard to build stronger relationships between brands and influencers.



Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.