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De-influencing is now a thing: What this means for your brand

By Margo Waldrop | Content Writer

March 16, 2023 | 9 min read

Yes, de-influencing is a thing and like it or not it’s here to stay. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #deinfluencing has over 100 million views and counting.

De-influencing is now a thing

De-influencing is now a thing: What this means for your brand / Adobe Stock

Pretty much everyone with a phone or computer knows what an influencer is, after all it’s a $16 billion dollar industry and growing. Influencers spend an inordinate amount of time presenting themselves in a certain way to appeal to the mass of followers who follow their every move. Whether it’s skateboarding, makeup, fashion, or silly stunts, influencers command an unusual authority when it comes to encouraging the purchase of products. It is the wave of ‘yes, buy this’ that has fueled sales for thousands of brands. However, what goes up must go down. De-influencing is here, for better or worse, and brands must take notice or risk getting trampled in the takedown.

What is de-influencing?

While the Covid-19 epidemic impacted the world as we knew it, one thing did flourish and grow – influencers. Audiences ballooned, product sales took off, unknown brands went viral, and influencers became household names. It was the perfect storm, an explosion of commerce that forever changed the way brands do business.

However, once the dust settled and followers began to sift their way through the over-saturation of influencers, brand trust began to decline. Not all products were pulling their weight and with the economy flat-lining, purchasers have to be picky. This is forcing many influencers to take a hard look at the products they are hawking and choose between cash in their pockets or authenticity. Not only do the products have to be worthy but so does the influencer. It is accountability 2.0, a complete reversal of the influencer manna and is establishing a whole new set of rules for brands to contend with.

This leaves de-influencing - influencers discouraging followers from purchasing certain products, as well as turning them off to brands that in their eyes aren’t living up to the hype. With so many influencers to choose from it is the ones who are trustworthy that stay in the game. With this realization, many influencers are back-tracking on previous statements and giving real, honest reviews of products that earlier may have helped line their pockets. It is the age of de-influencing, and many brands are going to take a hard hit if they don’t change the way they manage this method of marketing.

Follower beware

One of the major issues of de-influencing is the fact that it is an undisguised form of influencing. There is an undefinable line crossed when influencers try to de-influence followers. Some de-influencers are being called out for merely replacing one product for another. It’s not a moral victory to merely swap loyalties or to be falsely authentic.

It’s a conundrum that forces consumers to question their own product choices. Not that it’s a bad thing to tighten your consumer belt, but when it's done on the opinion of one person it throws the entire issue into question. Who do you believe? The problem is that one person may have hundreds of thousands of followers, if not more. That is more than enough to throw serious shade on otherwise reputable brands.

How to lower your risk of being ‘de-influenced’

Although de-influencing may take some of the control from your hands, your brand isn’t completely at the mercy of influencers. There are several things you can do to stay off the cancelled list and remain relevant to cautious consumers.

1. Your products must live up to the hype. Quality, price, and promises must fit neatly together. Consumers are exceptionally intelligent when it comes to sifting through the weeds and with de-influencing sweeping social channels, brands need to always be on the up and up. The integrity of your brand rests on the backbone of your promises, so if your products don’t live up to the hype then your products and your marketing need to be re-strategized.

2. Make sustainable changes. If you can prove that your brand is sustainable and creates products that protect the earth instead of damaging it, make sure to add that to your marketing strategy. A recent survey shows that 93% of consumers have upped their purchases of sustainable products. Sustainable products sell well - provided that the quality and price are fairly balanced. If your products aren’t sustainable, then be honest with consumers about your efforts to make positive changes.

3. Choose your influencers carefully. Collaborate with influencers who truly believe in your product and aren’t just in it for the cash. Do your research and don’t go after the influencer of the moment. If they’ve been using your product on their own before you jumped in with a paycheck, and are fully engaged with their following, they may be worth collaborating with. Choose wisely and carefully, your relationships with influencers should pay off well past the short-term.

4. Invest time in social listening. Pay attention to what consumers are saying about your brand. Is it worth the price to them? Does the quality live up to its reputation? Are they sharing information about your product with others? What are they sharing? Open communication channels to take part in these conversations and listen to your customers concerns and triumphs.

5. Face it head on. If your brand has been blindsided with a negative influencer review get in touch with them and talk it through. Find out why they feel they way they do and work with them to make it better. Consumers love a good Cinderella story so take that negative review and make it right. Not only will you gain the influencer's trust but also their follower’s.

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As a brand, even before de-influencing came into being, it's up to you to keep your promises and create quality products at prices that reflect your brand’s efforts. If you follow the steps above and stay tried and true to your own brand’s mission then you can ride out this latest trend and increase your own follower count with diehard fans of your products.

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