You may have encountered something like this if you’ve been using social media in the past few weeks: You stumbled upon a video in which a popular figure gave a negative review of a product and advised their followers to stay away from it. Surely nothing too strange can happen. As you scrolled, however, more and more videos appeared in which the creators explicitly warned their viewers not to buy a variety of products.
Surely these folks have some sway though. Shouldn’t they be acting in the opposite direction? An interesting new development in the art of persuasion is the emergence of the hashtag #deinfluencing.
Just what does “deinfluencing” entail?
#deinfluencing, like many other trending topics, originated as a hashtag on TikTok, and it basically refers to the practise of shutting down or pushing back against trendy items or products, usually of an expensive nature, that are typically promoted by traditional influencers. Consider it a form of “reverse influencing” that encourages people to put their money aside rather than spend it.
While this may not seem particularly groundbreaking at first, a quick search for the hashtag “deinfluencing” on TikTok returns over 150 million videos and counting, proving that internet users are eager for this type of material.
As a phenomenon, why has de-influencing recently gained so much traction?
There isn’t a single factor in the current influencer marketing landscape that can be blamed for the success of the deinfluencing trend.
To begin, we must acknowledge the impact that the post-pandemic era and economic uncertainty have had on consumers. In the face of rapidly increasing prices in major markets like the United States, many people are worried about their ability to save and invest their disposable income. As a result, the call for a less consumerist, more considered purchasing approach is much more likely to be welcomed than one that promotes reckless or high spending.
One can’t discount the power of fear of missing out (FOMO) to influence purchases, especially among the young people who make up the bulk of TikTok’s user base. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) describes the unease one may experience when deciding against participating in an activity or making a purchase reach of the average consumer because of their high price tags. Social media users may feel validated in their decision to not buy the product (whether intentional or not) if there is a trend claiming that such products are actually overrated and actively discouraging the purchase thereof.
The relatability of creators is another factor that has aided the spread of deinfluencing. It’s much easier to relate to someone telling you they regret a pricy skincare purchase than it is to relate to someone who is paid to try to convince you to buy into expensive weight loss tea or hair vitamins, and so audiences can form better relationships with influencers that are more similar to them, and this likely increases their engagement with posts.
What impact does deinfluencing have on influencer marketing?
Actually, it’s not quite like that at all; #deinfluencing is just a hip hashtag that stands for a new approach to swaying customers’ decisions.
In reality, de-influencing usually just leads to people being encouraged to make a different purchase than they would have made otherwise. Even if a creator advises you to put off buying that $100 face cream for now, they may still recommend something cheaper from Amazon in the hopes that you will end up making a purchase regardless.
Furthermore, influencers may modify their content to take advantage of the fact that audiences appreciate it when creators are ‘brave’ or ‘transparent’ enough to speak frankly about when popular products are actually not very good.
Because of what has been said above, it is now possible for smaller, more affordable brands to collaborate with influencers who are well-known for producing content that is not swaying or dishonest. Most brands place a premium on collaborating with highly engaged, credible influencers because they recognise the importance of word-of-mouth marketing in generating interest in their products and driving sales.
De-influencing may not be a bad thing for influencer marketing after all; it may just mean a shift in strategy for brands and content producers.
What is the future of deinfluencing?
Though it’s not easy to pin down exactly why deinfluencing is becoming so popular, you can get a head start by considering the places where the question is being asked. If you search for “deinfluencing” on TikTok or YouTube, you’ll find hundreds or even thousands of results, but on Instagram, you’ll find that the number of posts with the hashtag is well under a thousand. It appears (at least for now) that this trend will not affect influencer marketing on Instagram, which is still the primary home for influencer marketing in general.
Determining whether deinfluencing indicates a shift in consumer behaviour as a whole will take some time. Since this phenomenon appears to be highly platform-specific, its popularity is likely to wane over the next few months as it is replaced by other, more universal trends.