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Today’s digital marketing environment is one where influencers pave the way for brands to earn money through the appeal of a massive following on social media. With influencer marketing becoming a major part of sales and brand growth, the digital space has also seen the rise in bad practices of influencers taking advantage of the new digital landscape by buying fake followers.

This means that many brands are building business relationships with influencers who aren’t actually building authentic relationships with their followers.

Fortunately, there are companies that are aware of the bad practices that occur in the digital landscape and are determined to combat them. Four of these examples are Unilever, Samsung, eBay and Diageo, which are committed to creating meaningful and positive experiences for people who buy their products. This includes being transparent about who they partner with and refusing to partner with influencers who engage in malpractice and fraudulent activities, such as buying followers.

All three companies have publicly committed to combating influencers who buy fake followers, pledging to work with partners that give consumers a voice.

“At Unilever, we believe that 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 practices like buying followers can easily undermine these relationships.” Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

eBay, Samsung and Diageo reflected this sentiment during a panel session at the festival.

“What I want to do is give our marketers a voice, rather than influencers who have a following and are willing to write a post. It needs to be from people who are authentic and genuine. I’m going to try to shift our influencer spend to that Influencer class, they are eBay-specific and authentic, and their stories will be useful to buyers,” said eBay EMEA Vice President and Marketing Director Godert van Dedem.

Samsung Electronics America Marketing Director Marc Mathieu stated on the panel that Samsung wants to tell a story about creators. Diageo also has a unique approach, which is to target influencers, but only selectively.

Influencer marketing is changing. It is no longer about signing up the biggest influencers and using them to sell or endorse a product. Influencer marketing is shifting towards an approach that builds consumer relationships by working with influencers who truly care about a brand and its customers. It’s about partnering with influencers who share common interests that resonate with people on a deeper level than just buying a product.

Brands are now determined to work with influencers who are authentic and have an engaging audience. This means working with influencers who have an audience that actually engages. Influencers who buy followers just to increase their following don’t have this kind of commitment, and it’s obvious.

Both consumers and brands are beginning to be able to differentiate between the real influencers and the influencers who are in it for the money. That’s why many brands are now partnering with influencers who have authentic reach while distancing themselves from influencers who engage in fraudulent activities to gain a following.

It has been reported that 48 million of all active Twitter accounts (a whopping 15%) are automated accounts designed to look like real people. Facebook also reported that there are approximately 60 million fake accounts, while in 2015 Instagram revealed that the platform had up to 24 million fake bot accounts. These numbers are quite staggering.

With the increasing number of bot accounts appearing on various social media platforms, it is becoming increasingly important for brands to rethink their influencer marketing strategies as they begin to develop meaningful connections with consumers.

Edward Kitchingman, author of Influencer Marketing, a Journey, suggests changing the way brands partner with their influencers. Kitchingman says that brands should start without considering the size of an influencer’s following, rather than looking at the community itself and the engagement it produces. He also suggests focusing on how an influencer can creatively contribute to a brand while focusing on growth and long-term relationships.

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