The scale and scope of influencer marketing is growing at pace and holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to reach consumers given influencers’ deep and direct connections with their audiences. At the same time, we as an industry need to put in place all possible controls to avoid bad practices such as fake followers, bots, fraud or any dishonest business models that will erode trust in the whole ecosystem.
Marketers currently have limited visibility to accurately measure influencer programming and track authentic engagement. As the influencer marketing space grows, we are looking to work with social platforms for increased visibility and transparency.
Today Unilever announces three commitments:
- Transparency from Influencers: We will not work with influencers who buy followers.
- Transparency from Brands: Our brands will never buy followers.
- Transparency from Platforms: We will prioritise partners who increase transparency and help eradicate bad practices throughout the whole ecosystem.
Unilever is one of the world’s largest advertisers with an annual brand and marketing investment of over €7bn. Weed pledged in February not to work with platforms that incite hate, spread division or fail to protect children, as another clear commitment to partnering with responsible platforms which create a positive impact on society.
At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Keith Weed will convene a group including the World Federation of Advertisers, Instagram and Richard Edelman to partner in leading the industry to bring increased trust, transparency and integrity in the influencer space.
Commenting, Keith Weed, Unilever CMO said
“In February, I said we needed to rebuild trust back into our digital ecosystems and wider society. One of the ways we can do that is to increase integrity and transparency in the influencer space. We need to address this through responsible content, responsible platforms and responsible infrastructure.
“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.
“Today we are announcing clear commitments to support and maintain the authenticity and trust of influencer marketing.
“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.
“We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”