There is currently a lot of hype around the newest trend on social media platforms – de-influencing. This is the phenomenon that when content creators or influencers urge their followers to think twice about impulse-purchasing certain cult-favourite products, often in favour of cheaper alternatives. HypeAuditor’s Alex Frolov explores.
De-influencing is being pushed as an anti-consumption trend amid a growing cost-of-living crisis with persistent inflation tightening the purse strings for many consumers.
As of 15 March 2023, #Deinfluencing videos had accumulated over 100 million views on TikTok alone. It’s proving particularly popular in the beauty and lifestyle communities, where it reportedly started.
The growth of de-influencing
The popularity of de-influencing comes after the controversy surrounding beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira, who was accused of using false lashes when reviewing a L’Oreal mascara. Following this, the honesty of influencers was put into question and users raised concerns around whether posts shared by influencers were accurate representations of products and their opinions.
People expect honest, unbiased recommendations from their favourite influencers or beauty gurus. However, brands are paying big bucks with the expectation that influencers will portray products positively.
These clashing expectations create distrust among followers, leading many to doubt the honesty and trustworthiness of influencers once they were paid to promote products to their followers.
A potential byproduct of this distrust is influencers and brands choosing not to openly and clearly disclose partnerships, despite the updated AANA’s code of ethics which require them to or potentially risk breaching the code. In January 2023, HypeAuditor conducted an analysis of 521,000 Instagram posts from Australian influencers and found that only 1,368 posts with brand mentions from 855 influencers that had #ad or #sponsored. Many influencers choose to be deceptive because disclosing a brand partnership makes their content look less organic.
One of the reasons why the de-influencing trend is now taking off might be because influencers want to re-establish trust with their followers. They want to make sure they are being perceived as honest and authentic so they can continue to drive and grow their social media accounts, engagement rate and follower counts. Rather than representing the demise of influencers, de-influencing is an opportunity for content creators to reassert their authority and influence, and gain trust through transparency and authenticity. It is a strategy used to protect their influencer career and future income.
Is influencing over?
Many have argued that de-influencing might mean the death of influencer marketing. However, this will not be the case. De-influencing is still well within the influencing game whereby influencers are still telling followers what they should or should not spend their money on. But at the moment, consumers are more receptive to de-influencing, particularly in the current economic climate.
The skyrocketing trend of “de-influencing” is a clear indication that users are looking for more honest and unbiased product reviews by authentic influencers. At a time when de-influencing is spreading like wildfire, brands should take a step back and reassess their influencer marketing campaigns. Instead of running away from the trend and putting a stop to all influencer marketing activities in fear of getting a negative review from an influencer, they should embrace it and look at long-term ambassadorships instead of one-time partnerships with content creators. This will provide influencers with the freedom to give their own opinion about a product without necessarily completely trashing the product due to the nature of the partnership. It creates more opportunity for one influencer to provide a more balanced view of a brand, endorsing some products even if they dislike others.
The de-influencing trend will take a life of its own and we predict that new regulations will come out to prevent any deceptive or illegal practice. With the rapid growth and the evolution of the Creator Economy and new monetisation options for creators – platform revenue shares, new ventures, traditional media crossover, influencers can now afford to be more selective about the volume of brand partnerships they take on, exclusivity and usage rights they give to keep their audiences engaged.
Brands should embrace the de-influencing trend as an opportunity to work smarter with influencers and engage more effectively with target audiences. To unlock the full potential of influencer marketing, it’s always been about creating long-term, honest partnerships with authentic voices and de-influencing is hopefully putting influencer marketing back on track for greater gains.