YPulse recently told you about a new TikTok influencer trend that is going against the grain of their usual content. Influencers are most often recommending to their audiences which products to buy, and often sponsored by brands to say so. But viewers have caught onto the fact that influencers aren’t inclined to say something negative about a product they were gifted or paid to talk about. (Especially in light of “Mascara Gate”—where beloved influencer Mikayala Nogueira wore fake lashes in a paid mascara post and claims she didn’t.) Now, a subsect of creators on TikTok are “de-influencing”: telling their viewers what not to spend their money on, instead of urging them to the stores in the name of another brand deal.
This is especially prominent in the beauty community right now, as these influencers are some of the most trusted by young consumers when it comes to product recommendations. While they’re usually showing their hordes of products, constantly trying whatever is new and viral and encouraging their followers to try it for themselves, they’re now giving insight to what is not really worth it. And being as influential as these content creators are, these de-influencing videos could hypothetically be as pivotal for brands as a sponsored recommendation is, meaning many brands are unsure of what to do with this trend. Should they be afraid of being de-influenced? Should they push their sponsorships even harder to counteract it? Should they go so far as to pay an influencer to de-influence another brand?
With YPulse’s extensive knowledge on young consumers’ purchasing habits, especially as they relate to social media, and their relationship with influencer recommendations, we’ve come to explain exactly what de-influencing means for brands. To fully understand how your brand should be looking at this trend, we’ll explain exactly where it’s come from, if influencers are really done recommending, and how to survive a product being de-influenced:
Why is de-influencing a thing right now in the first place?
Influencers have held the power to sell out a product with a single post for a while now, but this phenomenon has become especially big with TikTok. So, influencers know that when they recommend a product to their following, they really trust it—and YPulse data shows the same. But now, as budgets are getting tight and inflation continues to drive the price of products up, influencers are recognizing that their followers don’t have the money to buy every single product, and many often feel left out when this is the case. So, they’re seeing it as their responsibility to help those followers parse out exactly which products are the best investment now.
The hashtag #Deinfluencing has more than 266M views, with creators showing products that didn’t work for them, sharing tips on how to decide what to be influenced by, and appreciating how the content is tackling over-consumption. Many note how they themselves have been influenced into spending more money than they wish they had on products that didn’t match up to the hype and want to help others know what not to make the same splurge on. However, most are not saying the product is a bust, and acknowledge that it might work well for someone else, but doesn’t meet their standards or needs.
Are influencers done recommending what to buy?
The short answer: no. Influencers are still very much recommending purchases to their followers, far more than they are de-influencing any product. Especially on TikTok, hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, #FoundItOnAmazon, and #AmazonMustHaves rule influencer marketing with billions of views collectively. In comparison, the hashtag #Deinfluencing’s less than 300M views show the scale of the trend is not on par with those making recommendations. And in many top de-influencing videos, content creators are even breaking from the initial idea by sharing what to buy instead, too.
From the headlines, this trend might seem like the end of influencer marketing—but it’s not. It’s simply a call from mainly smaller creators for viewers to think more critically about who is influencing them, taking into consideration if the product working for one creator will really work for them. Some creators even think this could be a good opportunity for brands to learn their niche, and only tap creators who are within the audience the product actually benefits—rather than risk bad reviews when they claim it’s a one-size-fits-all.
What happens if your product gets de-influenced?
The reality of one influencer de-influencing a product is that they’re only suggesting it didn’t work for them—their lifestyle, their skin type, or whichever niche it may not have suited. This doesn’t mean they’re “cancelling” the brand it came from, or even saying it’s not worth it for anyone to own. Rather, they’re recommending their followers be more conscious of what they’re spending their money on, so they don’t rush to a viral product that might not work for them without looking into it first, as so many influencers do merely for content purposes.
What brands should not do is attempt to team up with an influencer to strategically de-influence their competitors. Especially given that this trend grew out of a search for transparency from influencers, a sponsored video (which must be marked as an ad) talking down on another brand would only look bad for all parties involved. Plus, most influencers are not in the business of closing themselves off to other potential brand deals in their industry.
If anything, the lesson brands can learn from de-influencing is to re-focus on their niche; partner with creators who are exactly who a product is intended for, not just anyone with a large following. YPulse data shows micro-influencers are just as valuable now, as 58% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers say the size of an influencers following doesn’t impact how much they trust them. Brands can also pay close attention to what is being said about a product being de-influenced by one or more creators. In the most common case of beauty products, this could come down to a product not working on their skin type, not having an inclusive shade range, or them not loving the formula—all things a brand can learn from and work on.