The new beauty gurus who gain fame by posting negative reviews

The new beauty gurus who gain fame by posting negative reviews

Rebecca Mardon, Hayley Cocker and Kate Daunt

Contrary to their usual content, TikTok beauty influencers are now “dis-influencing” people — they’re telling the public what not to buy.

Offering product reviews out of character, many are directing their reviews at products they believe have been overrated by other influencers on that platform.

The recent interest in negative reviews began with a controversy over a product recommendation. Users accused beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira on TikTok of secretly applying large lashes to exaggerate the effect of a mascara she had been paid to promote.

The video and negative comments sparked broader debates about influencers’ honesty, spawning an avalanche of “dis-influencer” posts.

The term “disinfluence” may be a neologism in the vocabulary of influencers, but this strategy has been around for years. In a recent study, we researched why people lose trust in the influencers they once revered and what influencers can do to regain that trust.

We studied influencers who rose to prominence on YouTube as “beauty gurus”. Study participants (followers of these gurus) explained that in the early days of YouTube, vloggers offered unbiased product reviews, often “brutally honest” about products they disliked.

These criticisms were instrumental in the initial popularity of many vloggers. As one participant put it, the content “saved us a lot of money.”

But when vloggers gained popularity, influencer marketing was born. Brands capitalized on the role of the trusted guru by paying or incentivizing them to promote products to their loyal following.

This new role of influencers has generated an example of what researchers call a “conflict of interest”.

Followers expected honest, unbiased recommendations from their favorite gurus, while brands expected influencers to present their products in a positive light. These expectations clashed, creating distrust among followers.

Our participants shared that they doubted the honesty and trustworthiness of beauty vloggers after they started getting paid to promote products to their followers.

This distrust was well-founded. Our analysis of top vloggers’ YouTube channels revealed that once they embraced the role of influencer, they became less critical of brands, perhaps because they didn’t want to jeopardize existing or potential collaborations with manufacturers.

Influencers focused primarily on their favorite brands rather than the ones they didn’t like. Critical reviews telling their followers which products they shouldn’t buy have become increasingly rare.

Many of our study participants reported that they unfollowed or avoided content from influencers they no longer trusted. This backlash can put influencers’ success at risk, as follower engagement is critical to their careers.

How to restore trust

We found that YouTube beauty vloggers quickly realized the need to respond to this growing sense of distrust.

We’ve noticed that they use what we call a “role prioritization” strategy to prove their trustworthiness. This means that they prioritized the “guru” role over the “influencer” role, demonstrating this to their followers.

They offered more honest reviews and product reviews. Vloggers created videos titled “disappointing products” and “worst buys”, or simply integrated negative reviews into their content.

Many of them posted negative reviews of products “gifted” to them by the brands’ public relations teams, or by brands they had previously collaborated with.

With these critiques, influencers showed their followers that their relationships with viewers were more important than their relationships with brands. And it worked. Followers we spoke to said this behavior encouraged them to place more confidence in future product recommendations.

This trust is critical to maintaining the role of the trusted guru that ultimately makes vloggers attractive to brands.

The end of influencer culture?

It’s no surprise that the conversation about influencers and trust is popping up on TikTok.

The platform’s algorithm, which provides users with an endless stream of personalized short videos under the heading “For Your Page”, combined with its trend-driven nature, makes TikTok users particularly guilty of promoting the latest beauty products. “unmissable”.

The endless profusion of product recommendations can be overwhelming for users and reduce influencers’ bank balances.

On competitive platforms like YouTube, influencers learned a long time ago that they must dedicate themselves to prioritizing the role to maintain viewers’ trust. The popularity of disinfluencers demonstrates that TikTok gurus are also learning their lesson.

Some commentators have praised disinfluence as representing the death of influence, and therefore of influencers. But our research indicates otherwise. Disinfluence is a form of influence that is more attractive to many consumers, particularly in the current economic climate.

Rather than spelling the end for influencers, disinfluencers are an opportunity for influencers to redefine their original role as “guru” and build trust with transparency and authenticity. It’s a strategy used to protect your role as an influencer – and your future income.

* Rebecca Mardon is a professor of marketing at the University of Cardiff, UK.

Hayley Cocker is Professor of Marketing at Lancaster University in the UK.

Kate Daunt is a professor of marketing at Cardiff University in the UK.

This text was originally published here.

Source: Folha

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