These days, everyone knows about influencers. They have become ubiquitous, popping up on screens all over the world to advocate or ‘influence’ viewers to embrace specific trends or products. Yet, amidst this widespread phenomenon lies a lesser-known trend – deinfluencers.
Deinfluencing is an emerging social trend discouraging viewers from trying out certain fads or products, often recounting personal experiences to dissuade consumers.
Marketing and Social Media
The surge of social media in the last decade has not only increased its influence but has also given rise to a unique form of online marketing.
What has become known as an ‘influencer’ uses their social media platform to target and sway their audience into trying out certain products or trends. Particularly on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, influencers establish credibility and trust by building a large audience, giving charismatic descriptions and using flashy editing to effectively market a diverse range of products.
In the realm of online advertising, influencers have become hugely important. According to a recent study from Facebook IQ, 87% of viewers who saw a product advertised on social media went on to survey the brand, visit its website, or even go on to make a purchase.
What Are Deinfluencers?
As influencers all over the world launch their favourable opinions and marketing campaigns, deinfluencers are on a different mission altogether.
Deinfluencers aim to dissuade viewers from what they perceive to be outdated, materialistic, overpriced, or, quite simply, not worth the trouble and money.
This is demonstrated by offering straightforward and easy-to-follow explanations on what consumers should veer away from and why. This may be achieved by delving into personal experiences, discussing the environmental and sustainable impact associated with certain products or industries, displaying manufacturing faults, or simply suggesting the more cost-effective alternatives available elsewhere.
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The Answer to Overconsumption?
Influencers undoubtedly contribute significantly to industry marketing, yet it would be unfair to conclude that their influence is an entirely negative one.
The products influencers advertise may be valuable and useful, this way of marketing offers an accessible solution to companies with low budgets, and the influencers that promote these products may be prominent role models and thought leaders in respectable fields.
Influencers also offer a human touch to advertising and provide consumers with valuable insights into personal experiences and opinions, citing how best to use products or what to do if a product is broken.
Unsurprisingly, such a personal way of marketing has become a hugely successful way of getting through to consumers. But the approach has also led to a surge in influencers and, consequently, overconsumption.
Deinfluencers emerge as a potential counterforce to overconsumption, promoting minimalism in an online space saturated with products. By encouraging viewers to reevaluate their ‘needs’ or ‘must have’ sentiments, deinfluencers prompt us to question: “Is it really worth it?”
This is a refreshing perspective and one that conveys the far healthier message that happiness and self-worth are not tied to material possessions. Particularly for young, impressionable or inexperienced social media users, it is more important now than ever to counter narratives that may be damaging to mental health and well-being.
The Dark Side of Social Media
The question arises – is deinfluencing a solution to social media’s materialistic tendencies and over-consumerism?
Kris Ruby, a social media analyst and president of Ruby Media Group, presented a view to CNN that deinfluencing is really just influencing by another name.
“Rather than saying buy this, they are saying – don’t buy this. Both are forms of influencing. It is no different than saying, ‘Vote for this candidate,’ versus ‘Here’s why you shouldn’t vote for this candidate,’” says Ruby.
After all, for all the good intentions of deinfluencing, it’s still someone popping up on your screen telling you what you should or shouldn’t do or buy.
As such, not everyone feels sold on the new deinfluencing trend. For some, this is still part of the dark side of social media where users are sucked in and their consumer choices dictated and controlled by bias and unhealthy influence.
Wouldn’t it be better if people were left to their own opinions on what are good or bad products, fads, or trends? And shouldn’t this be the message that deinfluencers spread?
After all, unequivocally calling something good or bad can be an unhelpful point of view. Often, rival perspectives are just a difference of opinion.
It’s also important to note that deinfluencers may not have the right information, underscoring the importance of viewers approaching their advice with caution.
Despite these debates, it’s difficult to deny that the trend of deinfluencing promotes more open and honest conversations online. It encourages individuals to express their opinions online, challenge harmful industries, and hold unacceptable narratives or behaviour to account.
Ultimately, viewers should be encouraged not to define their online experience as being influenced or deinfluenced by anything. One must always approach online content with a discerning eye and keep that well-known phrase at the forefront of their mind: “Don’t believe everything you see online!”