Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This edition we report on the de-influencing trend (which is still influencing), #MascaraGate, and how TikTok employees can heat up your virality.
Goodbye Influencing, Hello De-Influencing
Influencing had its fair share of screen time on TikTok with GRWMs, Amazon Hauls, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, and Favorites videos all spotlight holy grails that influencers “can’t live without”. Now, it’s time to channel even more bestie energy and share what not to buy—in a trend called “de-influencing”.
With over 56M views on #deinfluencing, influencers are quickly catching on that if they solely rave about products and ‘must-have’ items, they can be quickly called out and deemed untrustworthy to their followers. We all know how crowded the beauty industry is. Nowadays, there’s almost a product for anything and everything. Although it may seem contradictory, an influencer who tells you what products aren’t worth the price or viral products that don’t deserve the hype is proving way more influential than an influencer who only shares “amazing products.” More and more, TikTok users appreciate honesty, and it goes a long way for creators, too.
TikTok creator Elle Grey, who grew from 8K followers to over 10K, has popularized the trend, making it fit her typical content style. She often comments on intentional shopping, the rapid trend cycles, sustainable consumption, and conscious consumerism, making “de-influencing” a natural addition to her content. She’s recently posted more “de-influencing” content, and in one, she even lists off buzzy items like the On Running sneakers and the Stanley Cup and discusses why we don’t need them.
And, of course, with the looming recession, pinching pennies is cool, being fiscally responsible is hot, and conscious consumerism is in. It’s the perfect breeding ground for a trend like “de-influencing”, which reassures us that we don’t need that viral blush or that “holy grail” moisturizer. You can also find a #DOUPE to replace these viral, hot, and pricey items. And I’m here for the shift to more conscious consumerism—I mean…it’s nice to be reminded.
The TikTok #MascaraGate Controversy
TikTok was brewing some tea last week… We’ll discuss #MascaraGate (with 13.8M+ views) or the mascara controversy.
And the comments are bad. The video, now with over 50M views, has a comment section full of users praising the Ardell falsies; one commentator says, “she forgot to tag Ardell,” and another says, “I know Ardell Demi Wispies when I see them.” One even made a joke of the situation and said, “Are you lashlighting us rn.” Suffice it to say, Mikayla struck the wrong chord with her #sponcon. And she hasn’t addressed the situation; she’s since posted three new videos about new topics.
Why it matters: This mascara video sparked huge online discussions about influencers' credibility. Many TikTok users expressed their opinions regarding influencer marketing honestly on the platform: one said, “Why aren’t influencers honest anymore? Like when did this happen?? We used to be able to trust reviews and now we can’t trust a single one.”
Since this video came out, numerous creators and famous influencers (like Jeffree Star and Mads Lewis) have spoken out, some in her defense and some saying that she is ruining it for honest creators on social media. We have long praised and rewarded influencers for being honest; that’s the whole point of influencer marketing vs. traditional media marketing. While we are happy to see trends like #deinfluencing bubble up to the surface, it seems like videos like these are a step in the wrong direction for the industry as a whole.
Wanna Go TikTok Viral? Make Friends with an Employee
But here’s the catch: the videos heated by TikTok don’t come with a label like TikTok ads. Instead, they come just like any other video on your FYP. Essentially, TikTok can choose winners and losers. Creators and brands can easily lose a spot on someone’s FYP to another creator with a tighter relationship with the company. According to Forbes, there have been incidents where TikTok employees heated content from their friends, partners, and even on their accounts. Knowing this, creators might lose interest as there isn’t a way to know what content goes viral naturally or was pushed.
We’re not really surprised, but to see Forbes and The Verge cover this just makes this all seem more real and scarier than ever.