The Great Unfollowing: What "Bachelor in Paradise’s" Recent Scandal Tells Us About Influencer Marketing

Grace Donelson

16 Sep 2021 · 2 min read

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Bachelor Nation is no stranger to scandal as the last year has proven- between Chris Harrison’s clumsy exit and scrutiny surrounding the show’s lack of diversity, this year’s season of Bachelor in Paradise was off to a pretty calm start. That calm was short-lived, as this week’s double feature episodes caught scandal on camera that saw ripples on social media. Accidentally revealed on-air, contestants Brendan Morais (@brendanmorais) and Pieper James (@pieper_james) indicated they were already a couple and were only on the show to gain followers on social media.

Though Bachelor Nation fans watched in shock as the lie unraveled, Brendan and Pieper’s shock was likely more as their plan had the opposite effect. Since the episodes aired on September 6th and 7th, Morais has lost almost 23.5% of his followers.

With Morais losing nearly a quarter of his followers, James was not far behind at a loss of almost 10%. These percentages will likely increase as Bachelor Nation fans tweet and post on all platforms, encouraging others to unfollow.

Brendan was one of the first contestants on the show, as well as an early "fan favorite", and it wasn’t too difficult for him to stay on for three weeks until Pieper joined. In the meantime, Brendan coupled up with Natasha Parker (@natashaparker), a relationship that by his own admission turned out to be a ploy to ensure Brendan remained on the beach until Pieper arrived. As the story went viral on social media, fans of the show began unfollowing the disgraced couple and instead flocked to Natasha’s social platforms.

Natasha has seen a whopping 203% growth rate, up from 173.9k on September 5th to 430.6k by the 13th. If Natasha continues to be a fan favorite, this growth will undoubtedly continue.

Dubbed by social media as “The Great Unfollowing,” this scandal tells us more about influencer marketing than meets the eye. As followers continue to turn away from Brendan and Pieper in favor of Natasha, it’s a reminder that being an influencer is not just about getting followers- you have to be able to keep them as well. Authenticity and honesty go a long way, and followers who might suspect an influencer as being dishonest will likely unfollow.

Dave Neal (@dnealz), podcaster and host of the viral Youtube show “Bachelor Nation News,” has already covered the topic in over five videos with as many as 69k views.

“The faster you grow an audience, the quicker it can be taken away. Just be as genuine as possible on your platforms and don’t take anyone who ‘believes in you’ for granted,” Neal said. The lesson to be learned here for influencers is that social media followers carry a lot of power, and their loyalty (or lack thereof) could directly affect your paycheck.

Although follower counts shouldn’t be the only metric brands look at when hiring influencers, a drastic downward spike in followers might be indicative of something more concerning. It’s worth making sure your influencers are authentic with their followers to avoid partnering with someone receiving negative backlash. Using a platform could help ensure your influencers’ followers are authentic, engaged, and loyal over time.

While Brendan and Pieper may still have some influencer campaigns down their social media pipeline, those opportunities have likely dwindled since these episodes. In contrast, Natasha’s influence has undoubtedly risen, leading to a greater likelihood of influencer opportunities. Featuring active partnerships with Risata Wines, Sweaty Betty, and Amazon, Parker’s new batch of dedicated followers makes her platform look a whole lot more enticing for interested brands.

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