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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Who Are ‘Deinfluencers’ and Do They Really Want Us to Watch Less TikTok?

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People are advising you to stop using excessive amounts of things in the #deinfluencing trend on Tiktok. But is this just another tactic used by influencers to gain more popularity and cash?

“An iced coffee is not necessary for productivity. When you go out in public, you don’t need to style your hair or wear only gold or silver jewellery. Most importantly, though, you shouldn’t feel bad if you did it.

In a recent TikTok video, Chloe, posting as @chloe.chapdelaine, offers some words of wisdom. With almost 360,000 followers, the influencer posts videos about her Canadian life, her travels, and of course the products she uses for her various life endeavours.

Recently, though, Chloe seems to have had a change of heart: In her video, she states, “We currently live in a society where nearly everything is designed and marketed to influence you to buy it,” while also writing, “I know that I am a victim of overconsumption.”

The ‘deinfluencing’ trend

Less shopping seems like sensible advice. Deinfluencers like Chloe are currently promoting it on TikTok.

They seek to be the antithesis of influencers, who are viewed as having the authority to persuade potential customers to purchase specific products by posting recommendations about them on social media in terms of marketing.

Deinfluencers employ a range of strategies. Some people completely reject consumerism, while others assess products and offer more affordable or superior alternatives. Other deinfluencers offer suggestions on how to make financial savings or discover true happiness.

Currently, #Deinfluencing has received over 263 million views on TikTok.

Beauty products continue to be a target for many deinfluencers, as evidenced by the numerous hashtags associated with the trend, including #deinfluencingproducts, #deinfluencingmakeup, #deinfluencinghair, and #deinfluencingbotox.

Other well-liked hashtags are #deinfluencingbooks and #deinfluencinginfluencing, which make former influencers regret their careers as brand marketers and search for real jobs.

More ‘authenticity’ to connect with fans

Authenticity is a key component of connecting with fans on TikTok, according to Marina Mansour, vice president and founding member of Kyra, a global content creation and marketing firm.

As she explains to DW, #Deinfluencing is “a response from fans around creators promoting products where there wasn’t the genuine advocacy and transparency that the platform is so lauded for. This idea gained momentum and became the #deinfluencing trend.

The Future Collective’s co-founder and CEO, Matt Perry, makes the following statement about the deinfluencer trend in a recent LinkedIn post: “As TikTok users begin to prioritise authenticity over influencers, the age of the deinfluencer is gaining enormous momentum at the moment.

In fact, a lot of creators, like Chloe, are now looking for a sincere connection with their followers after admitting they were duped by consumer goods that promised them a brand-new existence. Let’s be thankful for what we have going forward, she says.

For instance, Michelle @Michelleskidelsky is very open with her followers and lets them know she’s been spending a lot. “If you’re anything like me, each time you check your bank account, you experience fear. And that is f***ed up,” she argues in her “Deinfluencing things you DO NOT NEED” TikTok series. She continues by listing several items that one should avoid purchasing, such as an expensive hairdryer that costs $700 (or roughly 660 euros), probiotic supplements, and food supplements.

Deinfluencing or joining the trend?

However, social media influencers cannot completely let go of marketing for products altogether, considering that many earn money from their TikTok channels.

According to Marina Mansour, vice president of Kyra, there are different options for content creators on TikTok. Many of them work with brands to generate income, but also with programs such as TikTok Shop, which lets companies display and directly sell their products on the video-sharing platform. Other sources of income include revenue-share initiatives or TikTok’s creator fund, which helps support creators in the platform. “Creators can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on TikTok, depending on their following size, engagement and quality of content,” Mansour says.

As a result, the majority of deinfluencers advise consumers to steer clear of certain products while also providing them with a list of suitable alternatives. For instance, Maja, who goes by the username @self.skin, claims to work in medicine. She advises her followers on which skin care products are worth the price and which ones they can use in their place. Additionally testing cosmetics and providing viewers with alternatives, Valeria @valeriafride.

How sincere is a deinfluencer, though? The fact that joining a trend like #deinfluencing can increase views, follower counts, and the amount of money an influencer makes raises some questions about the true motivations of influencers who join the hashtag.

There is unquestionably a component to engaging with trending topics, according to Mansour, where creators are motivated to contribute to a topic because it is well-liked and newsworthy.

Mansour emphasises the need for content creators to stay current by addressing hot topics. “Whether that is because they genuinely believe that we are in an era of overconsumption or they’re using the #deinfluencing momentum to talk about products that don’t suit them personally, is a case by case,” she adds.

Market analysts like Matt Perry of the Future Collective think that #deinfluencing has the potential to completely change the game.

According to his analysis, the influencer industry as a whole is doomed: “The same thing occurred on Instagram and YouTube. Influencer marketing is dead, he declares on LinkedIn, adding that moving forward, brands must put more of an emphasis on developing sincere connections with customers and using those to boost sales.

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