The Wall Street Journal published an article this week about Unilever were going to start asking for more transparency in how influencers earned their audience – if an influencer bought their following or their engagement, then brands falling under the Unilever umbrella would start to decline to work with them.
The WSJ quoted the CMCO, Keith Weed as saying
“At best it’s misleading, at worst it’s corrupt”
Unilevers decision is already spreading further and influencing smaller agencies to announce they’ll be taking similar stances
However, with recent API changed by Instagram put into place, it might not be as easy as popping a username into SocialBlade to see what’s going on and who’s getting that illicit boost
The WSJ also quoted Keith Weed as saying “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” which we totally agree with. (We could even look at this quite as relating to disclosure – making it easier for influencers to be fully transparent with who they worked with would benefit other brands as well)
Social media platforms know there are issues with fake users, content and engagement but they are disappointingly slow to enforce anything or help those who want to make sure they don’t work with people who don’t want to play fair (because let’s face it – people who are buying any sort of feature to get that boost from third parties are cheating and that’s just not cool)