Brands have long partnered with social media stars to market their products and services in a positive light, typically in exchange for a commission. However, more recently, influencers are being more open and honest about which products they do not recommend at no commission – also known as “de-influencing.” 

This concept is the opposite of “influencing,” where social media stars share why they shouldn’t buy a trending or viral product. De-influencing can help influencers build credibility among their followers while also bringing up a larger conversation of authenticity on social media. And it seems to be resonating with consumers. The hashtag “#de-influencing” is viral on TikTok with over 76 million views and is largely embraced by Gen Z social media users. 

Given the proliferation of de-influencing on social media, CivicScience took a closer look at how much of an impact it has on consumer behavior. Here are key influencer marketing trends generated from the CivicScience InsightStore.

De-influencing content sways consumer behavior more than influencing content.

With TikTok being a rising go-to search engine among Gen Z, de-influencing likely sways purchasing decisions as well as overall perceptions of brands. According to the latest CivicScience data, 67% of social media users who follow influencers say that a negative product review sways their purchasing decision at least ‘a little’ (17% saying it does ‘a lot.’) This figure stands seven percentage points higher compared to the inverse question. When asked how much a positive product review influences their purchasing decisions, 60% of respondents who follow influencers report it does at least ‘a little’ (15% saying it does ‘a lot’).

Gen Z adults aged 18-24 are the most likely to say a negative (72%) or positive (71%) product review influences whether they purchase a product or not at least ‘a little.’ Whereas adults aged 55+ are the least likely to be influenced by social media content. 

When specifically asked if a de-influencing or influencing posts actually swayed a purchasing decision, a similar story holds. Data show that 25% of U.S. adults who follow social media influencers say they’ve ended up not buying a product over the last six months because an influencer promoted against doing so. Conversely, just 18% reported they’ve decided to buy a product because an influencer recommended buying it.

How can brands spot those most de-influenced or influenced by social media content?

CivicScience data show that there are key differences between those most influenced by negative and positive product reviews when it comes to social media habits: 

  • Even though de-influencing is known to be a more authentic approach to influencer marketing, data show that those swayed by negative reviews ‘a lot’ are much less likely to trust influencers (33% don’t trust them vs. 26% of those influenced by positive product reviews ‘a lot.’)
  • Daily TikTok users are far more likely to be influenced by negative product reviews, whereas daily Instagram users are more likely to be influenced by positive product reviews. Frequent YouTube users are the most likely to say they’re ‘not at all influenced’ by influencer content. 
  • Consumers most influenced by positive reviews are much more likely to spend at least one hour watching influencer content on social media (33% vs. 23% of consumers most influenced by negative reviews).
  • Americans swayed by negative product reviews ‘a lot’ are more likely to follow 3+ content creators (75%) than those most swayed by positive product reviews ‘a lot’ (72%).
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