So what are you buying when you pay for Influencer marketing?

Unilever thought their agencies had found them a quick way to reach a broader audience: by partnering with successful, influential social media personalities who could amplify the brand’s message to legions of new followers.

Brands like Unilever pay for exposure based on the size of the influencer’s audience. The more followers an influencer has, the more brands will pay to reach them.

Of course, successful influencer marketing depends on one very important thing…

Those loyal followers need to be real people who actually trust, and act on, what the influencer has to say.

The problem is, estimates show about 40% of influencers have “bought followers,” which means they paid a service to give them hundreds or even thousands of new followers, who then like and share their content, showing positive engagement.

The Dark Side of Influencer Marketing

A lot of those “bought followers” are software applications that mimic human behavior.

But many can be from click farms where low-paid workers, and even victims of trafficking, work in substandard conditions using thousands of devices to generate fraudulent clicks, likes, and follows.

Those “bought followers” are why some have come out very strongly against influencer marketing, calling it a marketing “fad” with little to no measurable ROI and questionable social impact.

And that’s why, and after spending tens of millions of dollars on Influencer marketing, Unilever decided it was time to reevaluate their influencer initiatives. They wanted to make sure the agencies they were working with weren’t associating them with questionable practices that might not only have poor ROI, but taint their hard-won brand trust.


Demanding Results

What was the result?

First, Unilever announced that it would stop using influencers who buy followers, and would prioritize social platforms that take action to stop this type of fraud and increase transparency.

They’re also auditing their ad spending and agency relationships in order to operate more efficiently. They’re working with fewer agencies, creating fewer ads, and bringing channels like search marketing in-house.

Because they didn’t have the insight in-house, Unilever let their agencies sell them on the fad, the “shiny thing” of unvetted influencer marketing. Now, they’re re-grouping, cutting back, and getting leaner and more focused. They’re training their employees in digital marketing with measurable ROI.

And while they’ll still use influencer marketing in the future, they’ll focus much more on results and transparency.

How to Avoid the Shiny Object

Influencer marketing can be used, and is a viable channel for companies – but ONLY IF the team is prepared and understands the pitfalls and problems of the newest “shiny object.”

How will you and your team avoid the rush to the fad? Even more – how will you avoid the risk of channels that don’t provide comparable ROI?

Training lets your team to know WHAT works, WHY it works, and HOW to make strategic decisions based in knowledge, data and clear channel expectations.


Let’s Find Out What Your Team Needs

What training does your team need so they can respond to data challenges? Let’s find out.

Contact me for complimentary access to a readiness assessment from OMCP, the digital marketing industry’s leading testing and certification body.

You’ll discover where their strengths lie, where their skills need a boost, and together we can design a plan that empowers them to make smart, measurable, data-driven decisions that help you meet and exceed your business goals.


Let’s get started.