What is a deinfluencer? TikTok trend explained - and what it means for consumer culture

The phrase has been used by people who are giving reviews of items such as beauty and skincare products

Social media and influencers go hand in hand; influencers use social networking sites such TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to share updates, photos and videos with their followers and connect with fans. They also often use these platforms to promote products.

Some of these product promotions are linked to certain brands. In these cases the influencer is sometimes approached by the brand and specifically asked to post a photo or video about a chosen product - and they are often paid to do so or rewarded in another way. For example, sometimes the item is gifted to them or they are invited to become a brand sponsor. Unsurprisingly, these product reviews are often glowing and include encouragement for fans to go and buy the item themselves.

Usually, however, these paid for promotions are made obvious by the influencers who will write in the caption that this is the case so fans are aware that there may be some level of bias in their review - but it’s still not always easy to tell how genuine they are being in the comments they make.

This has now led to average TikTok users to post product reviews themselves using the hashtag “deinfluencing” to try to provide a balance against the number of paid for promotions from influencers on the site. The term has been growing in popularity and is now trending - with over 12 million views.

So, just what is deinfluencing, are TikTok users trying to stop us from shopping and how can we avoid being too heavily influenced by the reviews of others? Here’s what you need to know.

What is deinfluencing?

Deinfluencing is when average social media users give honest reviews of the products which they say they have been influenced to buy. Usually this means that they say that the items are actually of a low quality and advise people not to buy them. They sometimes even go as far as to say that they wasted their money on the product and urge their viewers not to do the same. The items in question are often beauty and skincare products, but not exclusively.

The trend may have also partly been accelerated due to the cost of living crisis, as a large number of products which are reviewed are of high value and the TikTok user is often telling their viewers not to spend their money on the item as they found it to be disappointing or ineffective and not worth the price tag it comes with. In some cases, they even suggest a cheaper alternative which they say does a better job.

Average TikTok users are posting their own product reviews on the social media site and are calling themselves “deinfluencers”.Average TikTok users are posting their own product reviews on the social media site and are calling themselves “deinfluencers”.
Average TikTok users are posting their own product reviews on the social media site and are calling themselves “deinfluencers”.

Are TikTok users trying to stop us from shopping?

On the one hand, the deinfluencing trend could be seen as a positive one. Your usual TikTok user, who is generally more relatable to the public, often tends to be more transparent and honest in their view in ways that influencers may not be if they are being paid to give a review. This could mean, therefore, that these TikTok users could help stop people spending money on an expensive item that just doesn’t live up to the hype. In short, these ‘deinfluencers’ feel like they are helping to stop others being guided too much by influencers, hence the name of the trend. In that sense, they are dissuading people from shopping.

It could be said, however, that TikTok users are also trying to influence their viewers’ buying decisions - just in the same way as the influencers they are being somewhat critical of. This could be seen as a contradiction and somewhat hypocritical. The main difference, however, is that they are not being paid or rewarded in any way for their post so viewers may feel that their opinion is more trustworthy. In these instances, they are still encouraging people to shop.

What should I think about when making my purchases?

There are a number of things to consider when making any purchase, but particularly when you’ve seen an influencer - or an average Joe reviewing it. The guidance below will help you make your own informed choices about your purchase.

As previously mentioned, the first thing to look for is whether or not the review is in some way paid for or rewarded. If it is, be at least a little wary as people are unlikely to be anything other than positive about something they have got a gain from themselves.

Having said that, a completely positive review doesn’t always mean it’s untrustworthy - whether it’s paid for or not. In the interests of balance, however, it’s advisable to look up more reviews to get a broader idea of what other customers think. Money expert Martin Lewis states on his website Money Saving Expert that “it’s tempting to just read one or two reviews”, but he advises people to “read as many as possible, from different sites, to make a fair assessment”.

The other thing to remember is that not all products work the same for every person who buys it, so while the product may genuinely be the right one for the person reviewing it, it may not be right for you. As Martin Lewis states, “frankly, not everyone is going to love everything.”

Finally, don’t be tempted to impulse buy. It’s easy to get excited when an influencer you admire is talking about how great an item is, but try not to get carried away with this feeling. It can create a sense of urgency when it comes to shopping, particularly if you think the person’s promotion of an item may cause sales of it to increase and so stock could become unavailable, but you should always take some time to think about whether or not you truly want or need the product before you buy.