In recent years, influencer marketing has taken the advertising world by storm. Companies have poured billions of dollars into collaborations with social media influencers to promote their products to their followers. However, in the past year or so, there has been a growing trend of “de-influencing”, a movement that challenges the traditional influencer model and pushes for more authenticity and transparency in advertising. 


The de-influencing trend has been driven by a number of factors. One of the most significant is the growing awareness of the potential for sponsored content. Many consumers have become more skeptical of influencers’ recommendations, believing that they may not be genuine and are simply a way for influencers to make money. This skepticism has been compounded by several high-profile influencer scandals, which have highlighted the potential for dishonesty and unethical behavior in the industry. 


Another factor driving the de-influencing trend is the economic crisis that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. As people become more aware of how they spend their money, particularly on non-essentials, they are looking for more value and authenticity in the products they buy. They are no longer content to simply follow the recommendations of influencers and are instead seeking out more objective information from a variety of sources. 


Despite the growing trend towards de-influencing, it is worth noting that some of this movement is, in fact, influencer marketing in disguise. Influencers on platforms such as TikTok, for example, may claim to be advising their followers against buying a particular product because it is not worth the money. However, in doing so, they may be promoting a cheaper alternative that they have a financial interest in promoting. 


While the de-influencing trend is still in its early stages, it is clear that consumers are becoming more discerning and are looking for more genuine interactions with brands and individuals. Companies that embrace authenticity and transparency in their marketing efforts are likely to see the greatest success in this new landscape. 


It’s important to note that influencer marketing is still a highly effective tool for brands looking to grow their audience and boost their sales. When done right, influencer marketing can generate incredible ROI, increase brand awareness, and build trust with consumers. However, in the current climate of de-influencing, it’s important for brands to be mindful of this trend and understand how to tackle the problem. 


One way for brands to navigate the de-influencing trend is to shift their focus from macro-influencers to micro-influencers. Micro-influencers tend to have smaller but more engaged audiences, and their followers often trust their recommendations more than those of larger influencers. Brands can also look to build long-term relationships with influencers, rather than just one-off partnerships, to establish trust and authenticity with their audience. During one of our studies conducted for a well-known agro-food brand, we found that the use of a macro-influencer led to significantly better results in terms of brand awareness, while the difference in results between macro and micro-influencers for opinion, consideration, and preference was less pronounced. However, we found that micro-influencers performed better in the lower part of the funnel, namely intention-to-buy. 


micro macro influencers


A study by Influencer Intelligence found that engagement rates for Instagram influencers with fewer than 1000 followers were 8.8%, compared to 1.7% for influencers with over 100,000 followers. This suggests that micro-influencers may have more engaged audiences and higher levels of trust with their followers. 


Another study by Markerly analyzed over 800,000 Instagram accounts and found that influencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers had the highest engagement rates on average. This suggests that micro-influencers may be more effective at driving engagement and building brand awareness than larger influencers. 


Another strategy for brands is to focus on creating authentic content that resonates with their target audience. By showcasing real people and real experiences, brands can build a loyal customer base that values authenticity and transparency. Brands can also invest in user-generated content, which is often seen as more trustworthy and relatable than branded content. 


In terms of honesty and transparency, a study by Stackla found that 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support. Another study by Edelman found that 63% of consumers trust what influencers say about brands more than what brands say about themselves. This suggests that being honest and transparent with consumers can be a powerful way for brands to build trust and loyalty with their audience. 


Ultimately, the de-influencing trend is a cautionary tale for brands to be mindful of the changing tides in the advertising world. By being transparent, authentic, and focused on building relationships with their audience, brands can continue to leverage the power of influencer marketing in a way that resonates with consumers and drives business results. 


It’s a response to the growing skepticism and demand for authenticity in the advertising world, but it is also a symptom of the economic crisis that has made consumers more aware of how they spend their money. While there may be some disguised influencer marketing within the movement, it is ultimately a call for more transparency and honesty in the industry. Companies that respond to this call are likely to thrive in the new landscape of advertising. 

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