Building Trust: Combating Deinfluencing Through Authenticity

By Inspira Marketing

Influencers are an effective way for increasing brand awareness, even if there are caveats marketers should be aware of. The right influencer can hand-deliver your brand to an entirely new audience, while the wrong influencer can hamper your growth.

But, when an influencer decides to make content about how their audience shouldn't use a product, it's called "deinfluencing." And while no brand wants to see their product being dragged through the mud, the fact is, "deinfluencing" is usually just an influencer telling it like it is.

It's easy to think of deinfluencing as "the enemy," but it can help marketers refine their strategy and hear real feedback about how their message is coming across to actual consumers.

Focus on Authenticity and Transparency in Your Messaging

"Deinfluencers" are just influencers who are trying to be honest and authentic with their audience. There are few (if any) that have dedicated their entire account to just undercutting brands. One, it wouldn't make them any money if they never partnered with any brand. Two, unbridled negativity isn't always great for viewership numbers.

So, the first step we can take when trying to avoid our brands being the subject of "deinfluencing" is to be honest about our marketing and our messaging. Influencers steer their audience away from products they feel didn't live up to the hype, which puts the problem squarely in the hands of the hype-makers.

If there's a disconnect between marketing and the product, deinfluencing is going to happen. Whether it's on TikTok or just at a dinner with friends, people want to share their stories about products, services, or brands they've experienced (especially the bad ones).

The most effective way to avoid deinfluencing is to be honest about your product. Basically, avoid making wild claims about how a product will revolutionize a consumer's life, clear up their acne forever, or return their lost childhood dog.

The greater the disconnect between what your marketing says about your product and what your product can actually do, the more unfavorable word of mouth is going to become.

Instead, focus your messaging on what the product or service can actually, realistically do. The best way to do this is by sharing real-world stories, customer testimonials, or user-generated content like videos and reels made by actual people who've experienced the product.

Create Educational Content

There's an old saying: "It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness." Well, that applies to marketing and deinfluencing, too. Instead of tearing your shirt about a viral video that knocked one of your products, think of how you might have positioned or explained the product better to avoid a misunderstanding.

Basically, "light a candle" by creating educational content. Illuminate what the product actually does. Explainers of all kinds are a strong play here, especially easily digestible video content. If you're not sure where to start, take a look at the most common complaints your sales team, social media team, or deinfluencing content have mentioned. Those are the pain points of your product, and they're usually from a lack of clarity.

Use those pain points to illustrate what your product does and doesn't do, ideally in brief, entertaining, and easily accessible content you can post on all your channels.

Partner with Micro-influencers to Change the Conversation

Brands who've felt the sting of deinfluencing should partner with micro-influencers to change the message. Micro-influencers have smaller followings, but there are more of them, allowing you to calibrate exactly the audience you want to "reinfluence" about the strength of your product.

Micro-influencers are also generally trusted more than their more famous counterparts: to their fans, they're less "corporate," more approachable. A few micro-influencers won't take up a huge part of your marketing budget, but they will be able to turn the tide in your favor to combat a deinfluencing campaign.

Especially if, again, you give them authentic, honest stories and educational content to spread.

Invest in Community Management

This tactic is going to depend on the size of your company, but brands with any audience at all can benefit from community management. Brands looking to avoid deinfluencing can use community management to establish a dialogue with their audience on social media.

Fostering and growing relationships with your audience develops trust — trust of your messaging, trust of your product, and trust that you're telling the truth. When you have a bond with your audience, and have shown them that you're willing to answer their questions quickly and candidly, they're more inclined to believe your side over a negative video from an influencer.

Deinfluencing Is a Sign It's Time to Reevaluate Your Message

It's best to think of deinfluencing as a sign of a communication flaw rather than as a failure or a catastrophe. It illustrates that some part of your strategy, your relationship with your audience, your social media presence, or your product education needs to be tweaked.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Inspira Marketing Group is based in Norwalk, Connecticut. Inspira Marketing is a purpose-driven brand activation agency, driven by EQ x IQ. Delivering scalable, results-driven, creative solutions for a diverse roster of clients in the automotive, CPG, financial, technology, food and beverage, fashion, beauty, and quick-serve restaurant markets, Inspira Marketing specializes in Brand Storytelling, Experiential Marketing, and Field Team Activation, and devotes a portion of its profits to finding a cure for pediatric cancer. This combination of excellence and purpose has been recognized with a list of impressive awards, most recently including Ad Age's Best Places to Work, Hartford Business Journal's Best Places to Work, Chief Marketer's CM200 Award, Event Marketer's Top 100 IT List, and more.