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March 9, 2023 // Jen Wood  //       //  Opinion

Does deinfluencing threaten brands?

The Creator economy has grown exponentially over the past few years, with influencers now fueling a reported $20 billion industry. And yet the latest trend of deinfluencing has some marketers on edge. So, what is this trend and what’s a brand to do? 

The trend started near the beginning of 2023, primarily with beauty and lifestyle products, and has since expanded to other categories with the hashtag now racking up more than 340 million views on TikTok. By definition, deinfluencing pushes against our culture of materialism and encourages people NOT to buy certain products or brands. However, the reality is more nuanced than that.  

Most deinfluencers don’t ask for people to stop buying or to stop listening to influencers -- they call out brands that either don’t provide value, are known for unfair business practices or have inauthentic partnerships. What we see is not the end of influencer marketing, but rather a subtle shift in a quickly growing industry. 

This is not the time to pull money out of influencer marketing. It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your approach and ensure you use it effectively. Here are our top three recommendations: 

Be Strategic 

  • Searching for recommendations from trusted influencers will continue to be important to consumers, but the approach and use of influencers needs to be strategic. Identify the brand story you’re trying to tell and be deliberate with whom and where that will be communicated. 
  • Develop tight personas for the influencers you’d like to partner with to communicate this story. 
  • Be honest and upfront about any criticisms that could be thrown at your brand. 
  • Don’t rush the process. Give yourself ample time to source and vet all possible influencers AND ensure you have the time to follow that up with in-depth conversations with their team. These steps are necessary and should not be rushed, which leads us to our next point:   

Authenticity is mandatory  

  • No matter who you ultimately partner with, that person must have an authentic love of the brand. If not, consumers will see through the façade. The brand love can either be previously known, or it can be discovered by allowing time for the influencer to try your product/service (and provide feedback) before signing any contracts. 
  • Evaluate other content from the influencer. And while engagement rates are always important, ensure you also evaluate the authenticity of the content they produce. Can they be trusted? 
  • Build a community of longer-term partners who believe in your brand and speak authentically. Avoid one-off relationships. 
  • And don’t be afraid to partner with influencers who have jumped on the deinfluencing trend. This real talk has built a sense of trust within their communities and will translate to trust in what they say about your brand. 

Education is key 

  • With a possible recession looming, the need for brands to educate on the value of their products is more important than ever. Be clear with the real differentiation that your brand provides, and don’t be afraid to talk about larger initiatives around purpose! 
  • Develop clear and compelling briefs for the influencers and ensure they know and understand the value your brand provides.But don’t be too prescriptive. It’s important that the community hears your product talked about in the influencers’ voice, not your brand voice. 
  • And finally, don’t be afraid to engage with commenters and direct people to more information, especially if your brand has a higher price point than others in your category.

While deinfluencing is a trend that will likely continue, it’s not something to fear. And we’ve already seen anti-consumerism in this landscape before with “anti-hauls” that remain present on YouTube. Smart marketers can use this as a jumping off point to get tighter with their plans, build communities of advocates and more effectively tell their brand story. 

We believe in the authenticity influencer marketing can deliver. Let us put it to work for you.  

Jen Wood is a Senior Vice President on our Integrated Marketing team. She spent her career helping clients find their strategic visions, with a special emphasis on how partnerships (both with properties and celebs/influencers), when used effectively, can build loyalty and brand love. 

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