Deception, stretched truths and overconsumption has plagued the social media atmosphere by creating a need for viral videos in order to promote products. Influencers on social media platforms are no longer trusted by their audiences when they accept brand deals and sponsorships. On the TikTok, video-sharing app, millions of its users have fallen into the trend rabbit hole and added to their online shopping cart. TikTok creators and app users repeatedly use the phrase “TikTok made me buy it;” however, the de-influencing trend has been created to combat it. De-influencing is a beneficial trend shedding light to products that are not necessary by criticizing overconsumption and exaggeration by influencers.
“Whereas ‘influencing’ in the marketing realm means to convince someone to buy something, ‘de-influencing’ is about telling the viewer why they shouldn’t buy something,” Hannah Rosato, TikTok creator, said.
Rosato, a popular de-influencing creator with over 43,000 TikTok followers, began sharing videos about Amazon kitchen finds she believed were not necessary. Rosato kept making videos about products because the idea seemed to really resonate with people.
What resonates more to a person than an algorithm created solely for their viewing?
“TikTok captures even our passive and subtle behavioural patterns to teach its algorithms about us in real time, as we consume videos. These patterns include how many times we let a video loop, how quickly we scroll past certain content, and whether we are drawn to a particular category of effects and sounds, according to lowyinstitue.org. “This hyper-responsive recommendation system allows TikTok users to remain completely passive, if they so wish, while still arriving at an engaging, personalised content feed much faster than on other platforms,” according to lowyinstitue.org.
With powerful AI generated algorithms, each video landing across a person’s For You Page is no accident. When social media advertisements pop up, they almost seem curated to the person and their lifestyle. If an individual is watching a video about a product, then they are the target audience. It is appalling to think of the amount of access that social media platforms have on our personal references.
According to bigcommerce.com, social media advertising is the most efficient and effective way to reach a target audience and turn them into consumers. In 2022 approximately 230 billion U.S. dollars were spent in social media advertisement according statista.com. An issue that is clearly represented when discussing the impact of influencers and advertisements is overconsumption.
“Overconsumption is at the root of the planet’s environmental crisis. One solution, proposed by author JB MacKinnon, is that we should simply buy less,” according to theguradian.com.
Rather than being influenced to buy an item because of a video, a person must first evaluate. An individual must decide whether they needed the product before seeing the video, if other reviews support the influencers claims, and if the influencer gains anything from raving about a product.
“I think that overconsumption is a huge problem. It’s a hard one to tackle because I think the main driver of the issue is capitalism and the constant demand for growth and profit in this country,” Rosato said. “I think in order to have meaningful discussions about overconsumption, we have to strike a balance between putting responsibility on individuals and systems. It’s an issue with a lot of nuance.”
With more and more influencers promoting the de-influencing trend, rejecting overconsumption and encouraging transparency, multiple industries and TikTokers have been criticized for partnerships.
“I think that at this point in time there are certainly many influencers and brands using deceptive tactics in their advertising. It’s an unfortunate reality that has come from the super-fast trend cycle and the strong push to put out products,” Rosato said. “I think influencers have a responsibility to choose their brand partnerships more selectively, and I think brands need to be more patient with influencers and creators and allow them to give their honest opinions of products. Consumers are tired of being pushed products that they can’t trust by people they don’t trust.”
Social media users should pay attention to advertisement techniques and listen to de-influencers. Not all products that have gone viral truly work as they are advertised. Do not give in and add items to your online shopping cart. Be conscious of the difference between a need and a want.