It's populating the internet with catchy songs, it's created a whole network of online communities, and it’s responsible for grappling its addictive hooks into 1 billion users worldwide.
Yep, you guessed it.
TikTok has taken the world by storm. Each day in the US, 30.8 million TikTok users spend almost an hour on the app (Social Shepherd, 2021). Considering the world's desperate consumption of short-form videos, it's really no wonder that TikTok trends take the world by storm, sheerly based on exposure alone.
Any trend originating on TikTok will eventually blow up.
But as social media trends go, this one is pretty different. Meet the age of the 'de-influencer.'
Under the 'de-influence'
Deinfluencing emerged at the beginning of the year. It's where influencers are giving more realistic and honest advice about what not to buy. These honest and realistic reviews offer customers a critical review of a product and offer cheaper alternatives as a solution. The trend began with the cosmetic industry, but as customers are finding these honest reviews more helpful, it's expected to spread across multiple industries as the demand for deinfluencing increases.
But unlike many other social media trends, this one has a moral centre. It's all about trying to find ways of derailing overconsumption, to try and make people think about their purchasing habits more.
'If influencer marketing uses personal endorsements to sell products, in principle, de-influencing should urge consumers to think critically about their purchases and evaluate their necessity.' (Dazed, 2023).
So. how is the trend beneficial?
- It prompts consumers to think wisely about their spending habits
- It builds a trustworthy relationship between the influencer and the customer - perhaps making them more high-value when it comes to influencing
- Provides exposure to non-ethical business practices, such as cheap labour and non-environmentally friendly business practices
- Provides money-saving advice amidst a financial crisis
These deinfluencing videos are therefore educational, and back ethical practices in business. This is especially helpful in educating Gen Z about becoming more environmentally aware and socially conscious of their shopping habits. Not only that, but it strengthens the trust between consumers and influencers. This builds value for the influencer and makes them more desirable to brands wishing to use them for endorsement.
But of course, there's an obvious loser here. The criticism of these products and brands, of course, leads to a damaged reputation and marketing wars.
How damaging could it be for brands?
If influencing is a form of marketing, then de-influencing is a form of 'anti-marketing.' This, of course, is potentially damaging for a large proportion of businesses, especially those brands that are taking a huge leap into unchartered markets to ambitiously sell something totally unique.
From a socially conscious perspective, it's helpful. But from a marketing perspective, it's simultaneously both very damaging and helpful. Damaging for the companies whose products are being critically reviewed, but a double win for the brands whose products are being offered as an alternative. These companies benefit from getting a serious competitive edge over the critically reviewed company.
If used incorrectly, then deinfluencing has the potential to begin something ugly if it were used as a weapon rather than actually benefitting other companies. Due to it's moral roots, it probably won't come to that, but it particularly challenges a certain 'brand' of influencer. Deinfluencing takes the portrayal of the unattainable lifestyle and drags it down a few notches, to sell to everyday people who are trying to save money.
But ultimately, de-influencing just boils down to the simple fact that not every product is a good product. Not only that, but you really can't please everyone and it stands as a reminder that selling a product to the wrong markets won't reap a positive outcome.
Essentially, deinfluencing is all about being genuine. It's about giving honest feedback with social issues in mind, to bring 'influencer marketing' back down to earth again.
Strengthening values helps customers align their purchasing habits with what really matters, and reminds us:
- The product has to really work in order for it to be well received
- Environmentally conscious business practices should never be ignored
- Sell to your exact buyer persona
At the moment, it's only really damaging for huge lifestyle brands which sell an almost cultish lifestyle alongside their products. It's making a dent in the marketing world, but not enough to impact small businesses.
Despite this, it's definitely something to keep up with in the social media world. Social media trends are unpredictable as ever, so there's no telling where this trend will really go. The fuzzy future of deinfluencing hopefully streamlines ethical consciousness and forces the 'outed' brands to reconsider any environmental wrongdoings. It does, however, increase the levels of competition.