In the age of digital marketing and social media, influencers for so long have been considered the main trend-setter of our times, capable of directing consumers' buying behavior with their reviews and content. In any case, with the constant evolution of the digital world, a new figure is emerging, the so-called deinfluencer, a type of creator who is subverting the classic influencer prototype by challenging the status quo with the aim of promoting more sustainable and ethical consumption.
The deinfluencer is thus the exact opposite of the influencer and is primarily meant to urge followers not to buy certain brands and discourage certain lifestyles. It is therefore a true "social uprising" which originated on TikTok and is expanding to other platforms.
Who are the deinfluencers?
Internet users are subjected in a pressing way to advertising and promotions of commercial products and services to buy, especially on social network platforms, where influencers do their work by collaborating with so many different brands and brands.
Falling prey to impulse buying is therefore very easy in our days, as we are bombarded with information and reviews promising miracles. Nevertheless, members of the various social networks have begun to develop more awareness and are now able to protect themselves more. Here then, influencer marketing has begun to experience a slight slowdown spurred by the movement of the deinfluencing.
The deinfluencer is a person who, rather than promoting services or products, questions and critiques the role of influencers and the impact of their content on consumer behavior. This new social figure very often wants to highlight the importance of the transparency, critical thinking and authenticity, prompting followers to challenge and question the narrative put forth by traditional influencers in order to make more informed and thoughtful purchasing choices.
This move toward deinfluencing would appear to have begun on TikTok late 2022 and early 2023. In fact, on this platform, deinfluencers have urged their followers to avoid certain purchases in order to reduce consumerism and promote greater environmental and social responsibility. This trend is spreading widely, especially in the food, beauty, lifestyle, and fashion sectors. In many cases, these are videos urging people not to buy something or to replace items with more sustainable brands.
However, if the market for influencers over the years has become increasingly saturated and consumer skepticism is more rampant, the deinfluencer offers an innovative and sincere perspective, namely a alternative voice, focusing on the credibility of sponsored content and revealing the pitfalls of blindly following the trends of the creators of the moment.
The rise of deinfluencers is therefore a new development that presents challenges and opportunities for businesses as it pushes companies to reconsider strategies to influencer marketing, seeking to prioritize the transparency of the influencers with whom they collaborate. On the other hand, however, the phenomenon of deinfluencing gives brands an opportunity to engage even the most critical and attentive audiences, cultivating stronger and more authentic relationships with customers.
Critical approach and social responsibility: how deinfluencers are changing social communication
Diet culture, consumerism, lack of inclusiveness, greenwashing: these are just some of the negative patterns that a good portion of consumers are fighting against. In fact, influencers promote an unhealthy culture of overconsumption to keep up with the latest commercial trends or unhealthy behaviors and stereotypes regarding nutrition and beauty.
While some social celebrities continue to publicize pollution-causing fashion brands or beauty brands that uphold misguided ideals, deinfluencers instead promote more environmentalist and responsible concepts, and it is thanks to them that companies are forced to face closer scrutiny from the consumers now increasingly demanding.
In this sense, one can clearly see a shift in values among customers who are increasingly placing more emphasis on issues such as authenticity, sustainability and ethics over compulsive consumption. That of the deinfluencers thus looms as a "lesson" to companies that can learn to renew themselves in the essential principles and tone of voice of communication, focusing on new ways to engage audiences and convey their message.
Meanwhile, the hashtag #deinfluencing on TikTok has been viewed over 320 million times since it was first created. This is a very impressive number, considering that very few deinfluencers have a number of followers comparable to major influencers and capable of subverting the current status quo. Initially, these were small deinfluencers of 10,000 followers who over time have expanded their circle of users, attracting the attention of companies eager to build a real dialogue with their community.
But in the long run, is it feasible to survive as a deinfluencer in a social world that relies primarily on monetization? Indeed, the ultimate goal of all creators, ethical or otherwise, is the same: the views. And even the most low-cost and sustainable products still have to push the public to buy.
For now, that of deinfluencers still stands as a niche, but in the not-too-distant future it may succeed in disrupting the unbridled consumerism conveyed by influencers.