Social & Influencers

‘Deinfluencing,’ defined

TikTokkers are encouraging people to think twice before buying influencer-recommended products. Some say it’s still a form of influencing.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Paper Boat Creative/Getty Images

· 4 min read

There’s a new phrase going around TikTok these days: “deinfluencing.”

The term, which has more than 100 million views on TikTok, can more or less be defined as a pushback against trendy (and often expensive) products promoted or recommended by influencers. Many creators themselves are in on the trend, telling people what they shouldn’t buy.

Some have wondered if and how this will impact influencers as a whole, whose brand deals make up a multi-billion dollar industry. But as people seize the moment to promote dupes and less-expensive alternatives to some of the pricier products typically plugged on social media, some marketers told us it’s still influencing by any other name.

“No one needs seven blushes”

In deinfluencing videos, you’ll often find people discussing or showing stockpiles of influencer-promoted products they’ve accumulated over the years. Some people have said that they’re deinfluencing themselves to combat extra spending, while some influencers have said they don’t feel comfortable contributing to overconsumption.

Emma Austin, a social media marketing manager, has been outspoken about deinfluencing on TikTok, offering tips on how to save money and think more consciously before purchasing, especially given the current economy.

She told us the trend is about “putting the power back into the consumers’ hands instead of just jumping on every single person’s opinion.”

Some of the brands that have been named in deinfluencing videos include Stanley 1913, Charlotte Tilbury, and Olaplex. Stanley declined to comment, while the other brands did not respond to Marketing Brew’s request for comment.


To be, or not to be influenced—that is the question

So, is this the beginning of the end for influencers? Austin said she doesn’t think so. However, in order to resonate with consumers in a time of deinfluencing, Austin said brands should look to work with influencers who are “very specifically for their niche, who have a really good reputation, and are really engaged in their community.”

That’s where microinfluencers could come in. Sinead Norenius-Raniere, VP of product and influencer marketing strategy at Cision, told us that microinfluencers “know how to speak to that niche audience” and can be better at walking the fine line between paid and organic content.

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“I think if an influencer is doing a nice, healthy balance of organic, general news, and sharing of content coupled with some paid sponsorship, you don’t see anything wrong with that,” she said. “I think where people get a little bit exhausted is when an influencer does nothing unless it is a paid sponsorship.”

Ali Fazal, VP of marketing at creator management platform Grin, told us that he thinks the “old model of a one-time activation with a creator isn’t as successful for brands anymore because consumers will see through it and not take it as an authentic endorsement.”

Still, he said, “to the degree that it makes sense, there will always be a place for paid placements.”

Goodbye? Or good buy?

Perhaps there’s no better evidence that influencing isn’t going away than the deinfluencing trend itself. While some see deinfluencing as a way to consciously cut back on purchases, several creators have used it as an opportunity to plug similar products with a lower price tag.


“It may be cheaper, which during a time of crisis or when money’s tight, may be better,” Claudia Ratterman, director analyst at Gartner for Marketers, told us. “But it’s like, ‘Buy this instead of that,’ so you’re still influencing.”

While people might grow more conscious about what and how much they’re buying, Ratterman said, “We consume in this country. We just consume a lot.”

Case in point: On Austin’s TikTok about how quickly reusable water-bottle trends move, people commented about some of the items featured, saying they were adding them to their shopping carts, she said. “Even though I’m trying to point out that this is comical,” she said, “people are always looking for the next thing.”

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