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Jen Kattar of Realtime: why deinfluencers don’t mean the end of influencing

At this point in the social game, everyone knows what an influencer is and does – they influence.

But what about deinfluencing? If you’ve actively used social media over the past couple of months, you may have heard this buzzword and a load of theories to accompany it, including that deinfluencing is the “new alternative to influencing”, or that “deinfluencing is the start of the end of influencer marketing”.

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but we’d argue that neither of these things are true. For those that have been in the space long enough to see the earliest days of influencer marketing, we know that these cycles have always existed, and “deinfluencing” has always materialized itself in different social trends.

Take, for instance, the “Empties Haul” – a YouTube trend that began back in the mid 2000s. In these videos, creators with large and small followings alike would show products they had used up over the past month, and review the pros and cons of each one. Not only that, but this trend then gave way to “Products I Wouldn’t Repurchase” which – as it sounds – was a video trend in which the creator simply showed and talked negatively about products that didn’t meet their expectations.

We’ve seen this in more recent years on TikTok and Instagram, where creators have taken part in “Is __ worth the hype?” trends – a similar concept to YouTube but typically a much shorter format, reviewing one brand or product per video.

Now of course, there are creators who will never talk negatively about any brand on social media, and this could happen for a lot of reasons. They may want to work with that brand in the future and they fear they’ll jeopardise that opportunity, or perhaps they worked with them in the past and don’t want to soil the relationship. Other times, they may just not think people will be as interested in what doesn’t work so much as they are what does work. And it is in fact true that creators who are more willing to over-hype a product will likely book more brand deals and can make more money.

But this too is a cycle.

As the space becomes more saturated with malleable creators, there will be less demand from brands (who have fixed budgets) as well as consumers – who can always – always – see through false reviews (take Mikayla’s recent scandal with L’Oreal). And as this demand falls, creator supply will drop off too and the market will come back to equilibrium.

So is this the beginning of the end for influencer marketing? Not at all – this is a wave in a cycle we’ve seen many times before, and in many ways is a necessary process the industry needs to go through to produce more honest, reliable influencers who prioritise their audiences. Influencer marketing isn’t crumbling; it’s only becoming more legitimised.

Jen Kattar is director of marketing for performance marketing agency, Realtime.

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