Unilever Refuses to Work with Social Media Stars

Category : Business

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. influencer / ˈɪn.flu.ən.sər / (n) – a person who is capable of changing the way other people think or act

    Several brands rely on social media influencers to promote new products.

  2. bank on / ˈbæŋk ɔn, ɑn / (idiom) – to depend on someone or something

    I am banking on you to do a good job because I know you can do it.

  3. engagement / ɪnˈgeɪʤmənt / (n) – the act of being involved in something

    We can contribute to online engagement by commenting on social media posts.

  4. transparency / trænˈspær·ən·si, -ˈspeər- / (n) – the state of being honest

    The government needs to have more transparency in its processes.

  5. shy away from (something) / ˈʃaɪ əˈweɪ ˈfrʌm / (idiom) – to avoid something

    The company is shying away from false advertising.


Read the text below.

Unilever has announced its decision to avoid social media influencers who buy fake online followers.

The consumer goods giant made the announcement last June to condemn the practice of buying fake followers. This practice is triggered by influencer marketing—a technique that banks on popular online personalities to endorse a brand’s product or service.

A report published earlier this year disclosed that a certain company allegedly sold Twitter followers to influencers like TV personalities and athletes. These followers turned out to be bots or web robots, which are being sold to boost online engagement by executing some human tasks such as liking or commenting on posts.

Influencer marketing measurement company Points North Group also revealed that 20% of an influencer’s 50,000 t0 100,000 followers are most likely fake. Despite this, an influencer stated that no severe measures are being imposed for having fake followers and that a huge online following is still attractive to brands at the moment.

Because of this deceptive practice, Unilever has pledged to increase transparency in advertising. The company also promises that its brands will never buy fake followers.

Aside from Unilever, another company also shied away from some influencers, but for a different reason.

Five-star hotel Dusit Thani Maldives decided to stop working with influencers after learning that these personalities are only looking for an attractive background for their photos. The hotel’s managing director, Kate Jones, also shared that some influencers are requesting for free stays in exchange for publicity. However, most influencers do not fulfill this promise.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think Unilever’s decision to shy away from influencers will affect its brand image?
• Do you think other businesses should also shy away from influencers? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, is social media advertising more powerful than traditional advertising (e.g. print, TV, radio)? Explain.
• What industries do you think will benefit the most from social media advertising (e.g. entertainment, fashion, tech)? What made you say so?

Category : Business