Is the world finally fed up with influencers? Flossy clothes and flush followings aside, the latest in brand happenings seem to be pointing towards a bleaker view of internet icons. From Unilever’s beleaguered battle to wipe itself clean of fake influencers to Diesel’s daring commentary on the stark absurdity of the often overly trendy bunch, brands seem to be tweaking their perspective when it comes to influencer marketing.
Despite an announcement by Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed that the company would stop working with influencers who buy fake followers, a new report has revealed that 25% of followers for Instagram influencers working with Dove last year were indeed fake, ahead of the industry average of 14%. Fresh off a cluster of authenticity-focused campaigns, the news doesn’t bode well for the brand. On a larger level, 86% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color now embrace Stories, including Unilever. For legacy labels like Unilever, getting an edge over Indie competition means targeting influencers who will promote its products via Stories, so maintaining authentic influencers is critical.
While Unilever struggles to create a clean slate, Diesel is taking jabs at influencer culture. The retailer rolled out a campaign called “Be a Follower” that takes aim at influencers with over-complicated outfits and phone addictions, showing the characters struggling to do everyday things like spending time with loved ones or eating normal meals.
Still, with North American marketers spending more than $1 billion on influencers last year, according to Points North, the decision to scale back may not be likely. Instead, brands should keep in mind that influencers, like most trends, may eventually fade away. As such, investing in quality over quantity and taking extra precautions to ensure genuine influencers are now more crucial than ever.