'Deinfluencing' is Pushing Brands to Prioritize Transparent and Authentic Messaging — and That's a Win-Win for All
Consumer behavior spurred by social media has been rapidly evolving, from the virality of “TikTok made me buy it” to the introduction of cheaper alternatives or "dupes," and now to a paradigm shift called “deinfluencing.”
This latest trend sees influencers using their platforms to advise their followers on what products to avoid, demonstrating a palpable move towards more conscious consumption and a growing awareness of how social media can directly affect consumer behavior. The #deinfluencing trend on TikTok has gained significant traction, surpassing 403 million views thus far, and counting.
As consumers deal with the financial strains of inflation and the growing desire to prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions, the rise of “deinfluencing” should come as no surprise. However, it’s important to note that this movement isn't a total rejection of influencer culture. Rather, it’s much more nuanced than that and represents a change in approach through which content creators use their platforms to — among other things — share honest, unsolicited opinions about popular products, fostering a greater sense of authenticity and trust with their audience.
Not only is this phenomenon catching on like wildfire, it’s also rapidly evolving to take on various forms. For example, with #dupe content, users highlight cost-effective alternatives in the cosmetics industry. Some “deinfluencers” are also sharing their candid opinions on popular gifts like the Dyson air wrap, around which we saw a whole lot of content pop up around the holidays. The truth is that this trend is reshaping the way content creators engage with their audiences, and consumers seem to appreciate it.
In some cases, “deinfluencing” has also given rise to communities who either hold influencers accountable for their actions or for their (perceived) failure to act authentically, emphasizing the growing need for greater transparency and ethics in influencer marketing.
But what's most interesting is that no influencer or industry is immune to this trend or the scrutiny it entails.
Although it's natural to feel anxious about the possibility of this trend touching your brand, it actually presents a valuable opportunity for marketers — if they choose to embrace it as such. It's a reminder to revisit the fundamental principles of working with influencers and to approach partnerships with greater care and strategy. To do that, keep the following three points in mind:
1. Treat it like market research.
Analyze how influencers are discussing not only your brand but also your competitors and the industry as a whole. This can reveal valuable insights and opportunities for growth. If influencers are pointing out flaws in your product, it's an opportunity to identify areas for improvement and, most importantly, take action.
Alternatively, if they’re highlighting shortcomings in competing products, it's a chance to differentiate your brand and capitalize on those gaps. Once you've done your research, use this information to inform your future strategies and messaging.
2. Lead with your values.
That's to say, be authentic — always. Authenticity is key when communicating your brand values to consumers. Today's customers crave honesty and transparency, making it crucial to provide genuine insights into your products' benefits. Any attempts to make flimsy or false claims about your product will be quickly exposed, so it's essential to ensure that your messaging is grounded in reality.
Pairing your brand's authenticity with the right influencer can elevate your message and make it resonate with your target audience. Just remember to ensure that your claims about your product(s) greatness are supported by solid business practices. Otherwise, you risk creating trust issues with your customers.
3. Give your influencers the tools to educate.
When partnering with an influencer, it's key to not only educate them about the benefits of your product but also to provide them with first-hand experiences and knowledge. This approach enables them to become more informed advocates for your brand, but also ensures they’re better equipped to counter any “deinfluencing” claims that may arise.
Educating influencers beyond surface-level information can also foster a deeper understanding of your brand's value proposition and help build a stronger, more authentic partnership. Ultimately, the more invested and knowledgeable your influencers are, the more effective they can be in promoting your brand and mitigating any negative commentary.
Amy Gilbert is the vice president of social innovation at The Social Element, a social media activation agency.
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Amy Gilbert is head of social at The Social Element, a global, independent social media agency that delivers strategy, content, customer service, engagement, and insights to some of the world’s biggest and most-loved brands.