For the last few years, the internet has been inundated with the rise of influencer marketing, but could that be coming to an end? Surely we’re only just seeing the beginning of what influencer marketing is quickly becoming, but TikTok might have something to say about it.
With more brands joining the app to promote their products, and sending products to fan-fav influencers to show to their audiences, we’ve seen so many success stories for small businesses leveraging organic user-generated content; so we know that the format has worked and will continue to. However, on the app lately, there has been a rise in “De-influencing” videos. These short TikToks hinge primarily on showing a product that has been widely shared on the app, marketed as a must-have, and debunking the hype around it.
So, why is this happening now? We have a few theories.
Not worth the hype (or the money)
As we all know, we’re in a recession. So, a lot of people are being more conscious about how they’re spending their money and what they consider important. When you boil it down, a lot of these products that have been marketed as “must-haves” or “game-changers” are luxuries at the end of the day. Some will continue to purchase these products because they’re in a place where they can afford to drop a little extra, but the bulk of young people are trying to be more budget conscious during this time of economic change and stress.
With the cost of living rising, people are looking to make cuts to their spending where possible, which poses the biggest challenge to marketers how do you compete when your audience is talking themselves out of buying your product?
Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha are tired
When you think about it, growing up with the internet has given the newer generations a lot of advantages in education and visibility, but it has also guaranteed that they’ve been inundated with advertisements since birth. Whether it’s seeing their favourite YouTuber promote the latest mobile game mid-video, or seeing their long-standing idols on Instagram doing clothing-brand partnerships, the younger generation has been predisposed to be surrounded by, and highly aware of, advertisements.
With so many channels to be sold to, it isn’t shocking that young people feel a level of ad fatigue. Just like how Millennials may get annoyed by commercials on TV, imagine that across all of your channels from day one rather than the slow build from the early 90s to today. More access to our lives means more opportunities to sell.
We’re taking off the rose-coloured glasses
Influencers have been around for a while now, and we’ve seen many go from making content in their parent’s basement to walking red carpets and driving luxury cars. While it’s an incredible opportunity for them, the more event tickets and promotional gifts given, it can harm an influencer’s pull with their audience in the long-term. Especially when those gifts and experiences move from local initiatives to luxury brands, and Hollywood-level events.
There have been a lot of folks online who have started to examine who they follow in correlation with the de-influencing trend, and most of them are starting to voice that their fav influencers are no longer relevant to them. Of course, this makes sense as a lot of us have followed some of our go-to creators from their early days when they were still working in a public-facing industry, living in that shoebox apartment. Those eras are relatable to everyone, as we’ve all been or will be there at one point or another. So, that’s how the parasocial relationship between the audience and influencer begins.
However, when a favourite creator starts making content around attending thousand-dollar-Met Galas or showing off their latest haul from Gucci…the relationship suffers. Cracks in the relationship start to form, and eventually, audiences distance themselves from those creators. Essentially, once a creator stops being relatable to their target audience, the less likely that audience will be to be convinced to spend their money on products they recommend.
This all being said, influencer marketing is not dead. There’s just more of a push for authenticity from creators in 2023 than in past years. A great example of this is long-time creator Emma Chamberlain who has seen immense success in her career that stemmed from YouTube to now model status, and attending all of Hollywood's biggest nights. Despite this exposure and fame, there’s the argument that she has remained honest and relatable by speaking to followers on a friend level. Not talking people into purchasing from a partner brand, but instead recording podcasts from her bed and being real on topics like why celebrities don’t have the pull they had in the early 2000s vs. 2023 and still choose to stay famous.
Leaning into the micro-influencer market can see a lot better results as you’re targeting a smaller more niche audience rather than trying to hit up the Addison Raes (or even the Emma Chamberlains) of the world. Plus, they’re more likely to be receptive to offers and more affordable as well. It’s about finding creators in the sweet spot of having an audience that trusts their judgement, while not coming off as inauthentic and overly sales-y. In our opinion, influencer marketing is here to stay, but as the apps change, it changes along with them.
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Social Media Specialist at Super Duper Studios.