deInfluencing: A Cynical Business Cure?
In a world where influence is currency, deinfluencing is a financial black hole that has potential to swallow even the mightiest of companies. After reading that sentence it is highly plausible that you now find yourself asking, “what is deinfluencing and will it hurt my business?” To answer those questions, we have to go back to the start of this trend and evaluate how a small informative TikTok trend quickly became somewhat of a reputational risk and communications nightmare.
At the start of 2023, influencers on TikTok began trending #deinfluencing and #deinfluencer as a sincere attempt to end harmful trend cycles, stop unrealistic beauty standards, inhibit unethical labour practices and prevent excessive waste. However, like many social media trends before, it suddenly took a turn into uncharted territory and is now being used to publicly criticise brands/products that influencers once promoted to their followers.
In recent weeks, the #deinfluencing hashtag on TikTok has risen from three million views to over one hundred and thirty million. Implying that this fast-growing trend is garnering attention and highlighting a key shift in consumer attitudes towards the influencer industry, as well as the increasing demand for authenticity and transparency. Currently, influencers are most often using this trend to rate consumer products/brands (i.e. hair products, make up brands, electronics etc) and inform their followers if a product is not worth buying, earning them the title “deinfluencer”. As influencers are typically paid by brands to represent their products and influence people to buy them, a critical question is raised: will brands begin paying deinfluencers to make remarks on competitors and suggest their own product instead?
If the answer to the question posed above becomes yes, it will quickly create uncertainty around that business’ reputation, doubt on where they stand morally and become a PR nightmare for all slandered competitors. However, at this point in time, we do not believe that this is where the trend is headed.
The deinfluencing trend is not one without controversy and critics argue that deinfluencers are being disingenuous and hypocritical by profiting from their criticism of brands they once promoted. Additionally, the trend seems to be sticking to TikTok and not expanding to any other platform at this time, meaning it is not as powerful as the news might make it seem.
As influencers are also facing greater scrutiny and backlash about their values, morals and brands/celebrities they choose to support, it reinforces the idea that to be paid to deinfluence a brand or product will likely not be well-received by their followers or the general public. We believe this trend is going to see controversy over the coming weeks and should be followed closely, as it could quickly expand to wider business sectors, but at present is not a serious threat to most brands.