The Fyre Festival Flop: What It’s Taught Us About Influencer Marketing

With the recent disaster of the Fyre Festival, the use of influencers in marketing campaigns and activations has been widely discussed. This event, described as an exclusive music festival for the ultra-cool (and super rich), included celebrity influencers Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Alessandra Ambrosio, Bella Thorne, and Emily Ratajkowski, to name a few. However, when chaos ensued and throngs of people ended up stranded without decent food or accommodations, these so-called “Fyre Starters” supporting the festival went silent and even deleted posts previously shared to promote the festival, causing the event to feel like a scam and the entire experience inauthentic.

While these big name influencers certainly helped build the hype, they also did nothing to come to the rescue. If you’re considering working with influencers for your marketing campaign, here are a few things to consider in light of Fyre Festival’s major mistakes.

Be Prepared

This is number one! Before you launch your influencer campaign, make sure you have the proper infrastructure in place. Fyre Festival was supposed to be a high-end, luxury music festival, but turned into fiasco because nothing that was promised was actually delivered. There’s no point in using influencers with millions of followers if you don’t have the means or logistics to pull off what they’ll be promoting, whether that’s the sale of a product (check your inventory!) or a tickets to an event.

Photo: The Guardian

Authenticity is Key

When you’re researching influencers to promote your business, dig into their content to see the other brands he/she promotes to make sure yours is a natural fit. If they just promoted a competitor, you’ll probably want to work with someone else. In addition, if ALL they seem to be doing is promoting brands and products in their posts, their followers might be less likely to trust their endorsements.

For example, we partnered with travel and lifestyle bloggers Local Wanderer to promote a SORELstyle winter contest and align with a travel story for their website and social channels. This was a great partnership in that the influencers were already fans of the brand – and their fans trusted their endorsement of SORELs to stay stylish in the cold of winter. Because this was such a natural fit for the brand, our fans loved the content created and the activation resulted in us exceeding our KPI’s.

Create a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

One problem with the Frye Festival was that there wasn’t thought around the benefits for both parties – the event and celebrity. Instead, they tapped celebrities because they needed the clout to sell tickets and create exclusivity for the event.

A key takeway here is to ensure you’re creating a beneficial relationship that aligns with your brand message. As influencer marketing continues to rise, and the curtain of unaware consumers fades away, it’s important to create a string of connectivity between the influencer, brand and consumer. Ask yourself:

  • Does this influencer embody our company’s message/core values?
  • Will this relationship feel authentic to our consumer and potential new customers?
  • What do we gain besides an increase in followers?

When you’re thinking about engaging in influencer marketing, ensure you’re thinking about it from a mutually beneficial standpoint. It is the same concept as brands working with influencers who already have an affinity for the brand – creating mutually beneficial relationships ensure that both parties are committed to the partnership’s success.

People trust people more than they trust brands, and it’s vital that you select the right influencer(s) when they’re sharing your message so it reaches an audience that would naturally be receptive to it.

Go Small or Go Home

When it comes to size, a bigger following isn’t always better. In fact, working with influencers that have fewer followers can lead to better engagement and results. Unlike Fyre Starters, micro-influencers are more direct in their recommendations, are more likely to interact with fans to promote your service or product, and a whopping 82% of people are highly likely to act based on a micro-influencer’s recommendation.

To announce the launch of Trumer Pils in cans and promote a sweepstakes, we worked with local Bay Area influencers Chelsea Pearl and The Taste SF. Their niche audiences were extremely engaged with the content, and the winning submission found out about the sweepstakes through our influencer’s promotion.

Don’t Be Shady

When you’re working with influencers to promote a product or campaign on Instagram, you need to abide by the rules. That means following the Federal Trade Commission guidelines that require paid promotions to include #Ad, #Sponsored, “Promotion,” or “Paid Ad” in posts – and on Instagram, this needs to be made clear at the beginning of the caption.


Final Thoughts

Although the Fyre Festival was a massive failure, it wasn’t that way just because it used influencers. It failed because there weren’t the necessary logistics in place to support the festival, and the celebrity influencers’ abandonment of their social promotion exposed how “fake” their investment in its success really was. Influencer marketing should be part of your strategy – it’s just a matter of finding the right influencers for your brand and ensuring you have the infrastructure and experience dialed to perfection.


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