Fyre Warning: 3 Lessons on Social Media Marketing from the Failed Fyre Festival

You’ve probably not only heard of Fyre Festival by now, but you’ve also probably already picked which documentary was better between Netflix’s and Hulu’s. The one thing we can all agree on is that the Fyre Festival was a complete fraud and caused significant damage to all parties involved.

You could say the only successful element of the festival was the marketing, which consisted mainly of a giant influencer campaign. Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Bieber were among the celebrity influencers hired to publicize the festival for a paycheck ranging from $20,000 to $250,000. Although there are many lessons to be learned from this mess, there’s a lot to be said about the power of influence. Here are three lessons to be learned from the Fyre Festival to ensure your next influencer campaign doesn’t go up in flames:

1. Pick your talent wisely and be willing to pay the cost. Using influencers such as the Kardashians and other celebrities of their stature can definitely get a message out to the world. Although some of Kendall’s sisters charge up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, the results speak for themselves. Fashion Nova, an online clothing store that frequently partners with the Kardashians, was the most-searched-for fashion brand on Google in the U.S. in 2018. Another clothing company, Boohoo, had their UK sales increase by 33% in Q4 of 2018, crediting the success to their partnership with Kourtney Kardashian. Choosing these high-level influencers can guarantee eyeballs on your brand and there’s a high chance for profit. But in order to do so, you need to pick those who speak to the right audience and you have to be willing to pay the price.

2. Learn about your brand by exploring different markets and increasing your reach. A lot of the Fyre Festival influencers were big names with large follower counts from all over the world. If you have a lower budget or just want to share the wealth among a group of influencers, try to hire from across the country. Although their content can appeal to worldwide audiences, using hyperlocal influencers to share their experiences with a brand can teach you a lot about your company and how Instagram users perceive it. It’s possible there are a lot of users in Houston who haven’t heard of your brand, but it’s making a big splash in Dallas. Or, users in Los Angeles are excited about the natural ingredients in your product line, while users in New York City appreciate your speedy delivery. Experimenting with influencers in different markets can be a great way to test messages and learn more about the audiences you serve. You can also apply this data to your next campaign and use it to determine which markets to focus on and which messages to share.

3. Understand the risks. Just as influencers have the power to spread positivity for your brand, they may also have the power to destroy it. Besides contracts and NDAs, keeping a positive relationship with your influencers can be the greatest value to your brand. Luckily, the celebrities involved with Fyre Festival are a bit too high-level to have their reputations ruined by this disaster. But if you partner with a smaller influencer and a company crisis comes along, you’ll want to have them as an ally and avoid possibly adding fuel to the fire.

As the influencer marketing world continues to grow, there are a lot of great opportunities to utilize its power. Fyre Festival may have been a trailblazer when it came to marketing, but there are so many important takeaways and lessons. For more about how this disaster came to be, check out this timeline and be sure to watch both documentaries. Which was your favorite?

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