Kanan Gill, Sapan Verma, Naveen Richard laud Keith Weed's crackdown on influencer fraud

We spoke to some Indian influencers to understand their take on Unilever CMO's recent announcement to tackle fake followers

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Jun 27, 2018 9:00 AM

The strict call by Unilever CMO, Keith Weed to tackle the issue of fake influencers has turned out to be one of the most talked about topics in the marketing world. It also opens up another discussion on the authenticity of influencer audience. 
Just last week, Unilever announced that it has decided not to work with influencers who buy followers. At the same time it has promised that its own brands will never buy followers. The business will prioritise partners who increase their transparency and work to eradicate nefarious practices throughout the digital ecosystem.  
Interestingly, Weed's decision is being lauded by Indian influencers we spoke to. India's leading stand-up comics have over years become influencers in their own right promoting leading brands and products through their social media profiles. 
One of the country’s prominent influencers and stand-up comedian, Kanan Gill, who has worked with brands like Vodafone and Bacardi, is glad that finally someone has taken the step. “How we see marketing work in the age of social media is that people will make you tweet something. Then they put so much money behind it and all these fake accounts keep retweeting it, which brings no impact. It’s just the brand manager who wants to show his boss the numbers and I am glad that someone's boss has realised it’s a losing strategy,” Gill shares from his own experience.

According to Gill, some influencers investing on followers is nothing but a money-making opportunity. “There is a lot of pressure on them to have an attractive profile to attract brands, which leads them to do something like buy followers. But utimately it’s a losing opportunity because platforms like Facebook and Instagram will themselves figure it out and take measures.”
When we tried to get in touch with some influencers through agencies we were met with reluctance on their part.
For comedian and influencer Naveen Richard, the act of buying followers is instant gratification. “Maybe it will help businesses for a while but in the long run, it doesn’t. Also it’s good to have your own fan base otherwise it’s like lying to yourself.”
Organic reach also brings in actually conversion, undoubtedly. Sapan Verma, another comedian and also co-founder of East India Comedy, adds, “Natural following is the best because those are the guys who really like what you do. They are the ones who will buy tickets and watch shows.”
Verma has 1.61 million followers on Twitter and 90.6K on Instagram, Gill has 811K on Twitter and 326K on Instagram while Richard has 16.7K on Twitter and 70.4K on Instagram. 
“We have all started small. I started Twitter in 2010 and it took almost eight years to have such following,” Verma admits.

Reiterating the fact that buying followers is definitely not the best way out there all three felt:  “Organic reach is the best."
But there is no clear cut solution to this and that remains a key challenge. Whether other big brands will follow Unilever’s lead or not, one thing is for sure, some of  India’s top influencers definitely opt for organic reach, any day.

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