The term ‘de-influencing’ was popularised at the beginning of this year, with many noticing a shift in influencer culture and how this has affected marketing.
De-influencing, essentially a different form of influencing, is when influencers actively encourage their audience to not buy something. With more and more people turning away from the concept, we wonder if influencing culture is coming to an end, or beginning a new stage.
Transparency is key
Becoming an influencer is often by accident or by chance, for many rising stars on Instagram or TikTok. Creating content starts out as a hobby for many, and once they build up a good following and revenue, they can switch to becoming an influencer full-time. These content creators often have a loyal following who like them as a person and appreciate their authenticity. When these influencers recommend a product, it works in a similar way as a friend’s recommendation, because the influencer has built up respect and relationships.
More casual, low-budget ads generate high levels of engagement on TikTok, with Gen Z looking for real content rather than flashy adverts. Consumers are becoming more aware when a piece of content becomes a sales pitch, and are becoming generally savvier when it comes to marketing. We are in an age of people switching off mentally when a sponsor or advert pauses their media consumption. Most shoppers (91%) won’t buy from brands with ‘intrusive’ ads, a report from Wunderkind revealed recently. A further 92% believe ads are becoming more intrusive as technology progresses.
Therefore, it’s only natural that it’s effective when an influencer shows genuine interest in a product, keeping their personality in place instead of slipping into a robotic, sales voice.
The downsides of working with influencers
When working with influencers, it’s important to understand their audience and engagement rates. An influencer may have lots of followers (sometimes bought followers) but no loyal fanbase who will be persuaded to make a purchase.
As influencers are paid to promote a product, this is also a reason many users are distrustful or sceptical, as some may believe they hide their true review for the sake of being paid.
The cost of living crisis has played a role in the rise of ‘de-influencing’, with consumers finding ways to avoid buying stuff they don’t really need. The criticism of overconsumption has grown, which coincides with messaging around saving the environment. Cost and the environment are more than enough reasons for influencers to not put time in sponsorships, or for their audience to listen.
Pros of working with influencers
Despite the issues influencers and marketers face in this industry, influencing is still prevalent and a great way to market your brand. Deinfluencing can open doors to more real and authentic sponsorships, which is ultimately what appeals to the new generations. This can work in the favour of brands, as they will be associated with someone who your audience trusts and admires.
There are many studies that prove the value of influencer marketing over involving celebrities. A survey from Influencer Marketing Hub revealed that microinfluencers provide stronger ROI to a brand compared to a celebrity like Kim Kardashian. Although incredibly famous, Kim Kardashian receives low engagement on her Instagram posts compared to her level of following, many of the comments being bots or spam. Like we said before, relatable people and authentic content sometimes takes precedence over popularity and status.
Influencer culture is not going away anytime soon, and it’s a great way to spread awareness of your product in the right spaces. Our advice is to research thoroughly when you find influencers, and decide if their audience matches yours. Influencer marketing in an investment, so ensure to invest as much time into your decision as would with other campaigns. You may wish to opt for microinfluencers if that’s best for your brand, in the hopes of securing that down to earth and genuine messaging.