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We’ve all been there. Scrolling through your social media feed you’re met with an influencer sharing a new product that “changed their life”.

Whether it’s a $1000 Dyson Airwrap or an $80 Stanley cup, suddenly you’re entering your card details to grab the product before it sells out.

This is influencer marketing – a $16.4 billion industry that has grown swiftly with widespread use of social media. Where companies used to rely on TV ads, bus stops and billboards, they can now promote products directly through someone relatable and ‘authentic’ on social.

But with our budgets stretched by a growing cost of living, we’re all becoming a bit sceptical, and some influencers are jumping on board to keep us from spending instead.

Is deinfluencing the new influencing?

A new trend has been on the rise this year – deinfluencing.

Instead of encouraging us to buy more, some influencers are telling us which products aren’t worth the money and encouraging us to resist buying things we don’t need. The trend has taken over social media in recent months, racking up over 150 million views on TikTok.

Simran Kaur runs the Girls That Invest platform, with over 120,000 followers on TikTok. She is pleased to see the rise of deinfluencing, which aligns with the values she and her cofounder Sonya have. They have a rule that if they wouldn't recommend a product to their mums, they won’t recommend it to their audience.

“I think deinfluencing is a positive step towards improving mental health, particularly among young people,” says Simran.

“By deinfluencing, individuals and organisations are promoting more realistic and diverse representations of beauty and lifestyles, which I think can only improve mental health outcomes.”

Why is deinfluencing taking off now?

The cost of living is at an all-time high, meaning we’re more driven to make our money go further.

Concerns about fast fashion and overconsumption are also picking up, as we deal with the negative effects of climate change and industrialisation. Simran believes deinfluencing can play a powerful role in helping to reverse this consumption culture.

“When social media influencers are paid to promote products, it can lead to excessive consumption and environmental harm. By reducing their influence, individuals and organisations are promoting more mindful consumption and sustainability.”

So what steps can we take to be more conscious consumers of influencer content?

Know the signs of paid adverts

In New Zealand, the Advertising Standards Code requires influencers to label any content as advertising if is paid marketing.

Look out for ‘ad’ or ‘sponsored’ in the caption; this is a clear sign that content is a paid promotion. ‘Gifted’ usually means the influencer has not received a paycheque, but has been given the product for free.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid all paid content, and you may not want to. But the key is to be aware of how you engage with it and make sure it fits in with your lifestyle and money goals.

“When engaging with social media content, be a critical thinker. Ask questions, challenge assumptions, and look for evidence to support claims. Don’t be afraid to engage in constructive conversations or debate, but be respectful and open-minded,” says Simran.

It’s crucial to consider whether you can really afford something, to avoid getting trapped in a Buy Now, Pay Later cycle.

Influence can be used for good

Social media is clearly a powerful channel, and it’s in our power to decide how we use it.

At the end of the day, we can’t blame influencers for wanting to make money. For many, it is their full-time job, and just like you and I, they need to pay the bills.

But we can also look out for influencers who align with our values and are selective in the products they share. Deinfluencers build trusted audiences through transparency – that may mean being critical of a gifted product or suggesting alternatives if they don’t think it's worth the money.

Understand what you want to achieve in your time on social media, and clean up your feed to get it working in your best interests.

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses

It’s important to remember that influencing is a paid gig, so the clothes influencers wear, events they’re attending and trips they’re taking are quite possibly free.

Trying to keep up with these at the expense of your own wallet is not sustainable.

This is not to say you shouldn’t buy something they promote if you really want it! Instead, try to focus your spending on what gives you the top emotional payoff.

Also, consider whether there’s a cheaper version or DIY hack that could get you similar results. For example, could you try bathrobe curls before you fork out a grand for that Airwrap?

Simran believes engaging with a diverse range of sources can help to avoid falling into a comparison trap and overspending on things we don’t need.

“Try to consume a diverse range of content from different sources, perspectives and backgrounds. This can help you avoid getting trapped in a filter bubble and expose you to new ideas and perspectives.”

Tailoring your feed to align with your goals is more powerful than you think.

Make your social media accounts work for, not against, you!

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