Top: Jayde Powell Q&A

Evelyn Taylor, Community Manager, Emplifi

Community Corner — Q&A with Jayde Powell: TikTok’s “deinfluencer” trend

Jayde Powell is a former social media strategist turned content creator with a decade of experience in a variety of marketing roles.

Now a creator, writer, and founder, Jayde has also established herself as a prominent thought leader passionate about authenticity and diversity in influencer marketing. Jayde regularly creates opportunities for creators and influencers to connect with brands and marketers, particularly through her live LinkedIn audio series #CreatorTeaTalk.

We sat down with Jayde to get the scoop on one of her recent episode topics: the “deinfluencer” or "deinfluencing" TikTok trend and what it means for the future of the creator economy.

Deinfluencing seems to center around honesty and authenticity. How did you first come across the topic and how would you describe your understanding of a deinfluencer? 

I was researching what I wanted to do my next episode on, and I noticed that “deinfluencing” was trending on TikTok. It was super interesting because it was something I’ve never heard of, and I thought it was something to do with being anti-influencer. I followed that up with articles to compound my research, and found that deinfluencers are essentially creators being more honest and communicative about the products they’re recommending to their audiences.

I noticed that deinfluencers seem to be very heavily focused on the beauty industry, because a lot of the influencer content that exists on TikTok revolves around beauty brands. Typical influencers on TikTok might tell you to buy a $500 Kylie Cosmetics product line, while the purpose of a deinfluencer is to help you find a more affordable or accessible dupe (alternative). 

People are recognizing that consumers have different budgets they’re willing to spend on products, and are becoming more savvy in general. Most of the time, they’re going to do their own research on a brand or product after hearing about it from an influencer, and then make their own decisions on purchasing. The more an influencer's content aligns with the feedback they’re seeing in their own research, the more likely they are to trust that creator and buy that product.

It often feels like every product you see on TikTok or Instagram is “the best,” according to influencers promoting them, which can be overwhelming for consumers. How do you think the deinfluencer is changing this narrative and the way creators frame the products they promote?

I don't know that deinfluencing is necessarily changing the narrative, because while creators are recommending alternatives or telling consumers what not to buy, they’re usually still recommending products. So it’s still influencing, but from a more accessible standpoint.

I think influencers are recognizing that they need to be as relatable as possible; they need to give their audience a way to see themselves in each video or photo they post. Let’s say you have an influencer who promotes their luxury lifestyle, and their primary audience is middle-class women whose ideas of luxury are going to be different. It’s in the influencer’s best interest to say something like, “I’m spending $5,000 on these beauty products every month, but there are more affordable options you have access to.” 

As a creator, deinfluencing is about being more inclusive of your audience and knowing that they may not have the same resources or lifestyle ideas that you do.

In most of the deinfluencer content we’ve seen on social media, the comments are overwhelmingly positive, with followers asking for more. Why do you think this type of content is resonating so well with consumers?

Consumers are savvier than ever, and they have so much access to information. They’ll take recommendations, but they’re always going to do their own research. If an influencer recommends a product and some of their followers try that product and it doesn’t work for them, there’s a clear disconnect there that can create mistrust. And if consumers don’t trust you, they won’t buy the products you promote.

There’s definitely a desire for authenticity and accessibility from social media users. People like influencers because they want those genuine recommendations and social proof for products they’re not familiar with. When influencers are recommending products, they should keep in mind that people will actually go out and buy them, so they need to be honest about their experiences. 

Especially when it’s a paid collaboration, influencers sometimes feel like they have to give glowing reviews about every product. As a creator, I personally wouldn’t post anything about a product I didn’t enjoy, but if I did have to share something about it, I’d say “It wasn’t my favorite because of this reason, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.”

In your #CreatorTeaTalk, you and the panelists brought up social responsibility from both the brand and influencer side. How much responsibility do you think influencers should be expected to take on when sharing sponsored content?

I think everyone shares equal responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the brand to choose influencers and creators who actually align with their values, not just any influencer who will promote a product. You want to find influencers and creators who align with your brand mission and goals, how you view the product positioning, and what you think the right messaging is. Then make sure those influencers and creators can actually communicate that messaging in a way that makes sense for their audience. 

Influencers and creators also hold some responsibility when they’re signing a contract with a brand, asking “Is this a brand that aligns with my values?” or “Is this a product or service that I feel that my audience would really understand or want to know about?” If you really care about your content and your audience, it can be worth it to turn down partnerships that don’t fit with your values.

From the consumer standpoint, I think it's up to them to say, “Now that I've seen this recommendation, it's time for me to go do my own research.” That’s the case for any way we’re consuming marketing and advertising, whether it’s a billboard or a YouTube ad. It’s totally OK to buy something because you want to try it, but it’s up to you to Google the brand and get some background.

Influencer and creator content helps drive people back to a website or landing page, but what’s on that landing page is even more important. It’s a multi-level journey. That's marketing.

How do you think the deinfluencer trend is positively affecting the influencer marketing industry in general — from the creator and the brand sides?

Deinfluencing is creating a desire from consumers to see things that are real. There’s a time and place for polished product shots and professional photography, but most consumers also want to see that product in the hands of someone like them. Deinfluencers and creators in general have the potential for brands to save money in this sense, and for consumers to better envision themselves owning a product. 

There’s nothing more relatable than a human connection, and influencers are the face of human-to-human, or “H-to-H,” marketing. As a creator, the content we're sharing helps brands put their product or service in front of a person and then gets that consumer to build connection with the brand. 

At the end of the day, influencer marketing will likely always be tied to conversion and sales. Do you think deinfluencing is more of a passing trend or does it have the potential to generate lasting change in the creator economy?

I think calling it “deinfluencing,” is a hot trend right now, but I think the actions of a deinfluencer, or being more authentic online, is something that's already been happening. I don't think that will go away any time soon, because consumers want to be able to trust the brands that they're purchasing from. 

Consumer behavior has changed so much in the past few years; more consumers care about a brand’s stance on ethics, political issues, sustainability, and other things that impact everyday life, and those drive their purchasing decisions. I even saw a statistic that said 60% of consumers agree that they are more likely to purchase from a brand that cares about social causes. I think consumers just want to buy from companies that care about being authentic, and influencers and creators are a way to convey that.

Brands should think of influencers as an extension of their own employees. For example, you may not hire someone because they didn’t fit your company’s culture. That same approach should apply to influencers and creators; the partnerships you choose should be in line with your brand’s mission and values. Otherwise, it will show through your marketing efforts.

Any other thoughts or insights you want to share from your #CreatorTeaTalk or the overall research you've done related to deinfluencing?

One thing I’ll say is that consumers want brands to be more sustainable — people care about the planet now more than ever. That’s why I featured Sabs Katz as one of my panelists, because she’s a creator and influencer who focuses on sustainability. There’s a POV around deinfluencing as it relates to sustainability, and how we can make more ethical decisions as consumers. Overconsumption is ingrained in us because we live in a capitalist society, but being more choosy about what we're buying and how that impacts our planet can affect overproduction, pollution, and a whole host of other issues.

When I first started with content creation, I remember brands would send me products, and my instinct was to get everything I could because it was offered to me. Now, I realize some of those products are just collecting dust in my cabinet, and I haven’t used them since making the initial video. I’m a lot more conscientious now about what I actually like, and apply that to the opportunities I’m selecting and what products I’ll create content for.

Bio: Jayde Powell is a former social media strategist turned content creator and marketer from Atlanta, Georgia. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising, she has established herself as a creative, writer and speaker.

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