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5 Things We Can Learn About Influencer Marketing from the Fyre Festival Fiasco

By Alex Li

in Brand Safety/FTC

Posted May 4, 2017

FYRE was a disaster but don’t blame their marketing team.

If you didn't hear about Fyre Festial, read below for a quick recap in the biggest recent news involving festivals, influencer marketing, and millennials with a budget to spend. If you were following the story, feel free to jump to the list!

The Fyre Festival, promoted by many influencers, was supposed be hosted in the bahamas over the weekend, but ultimately left attendees (mostly millennials) scrambling to find a way back to the United States and some in unsafe situations.

Upon arrival, ticket buyers were left walking around what looked like a desolated campground on an island with little access to food, water or electricity to charge their phones, some were locked in rooms, while others were missing luggage and/or stranded on the airport tarmac in the Bahamas.

As a result, two lawsuits have been filed against the organizers according to reports from NPR. Alleges include negligence, fraud, misrepresentation and violation of consumer protection laws of all 50 states.

In sum, to say the Fyre festival was a disaster is an understatement, and has sparked tons of conversation around the responsibilities that both brands and influencers have in event promotion.

As an influencer marketing company, we had to share our thoughts on the situation of course. Here’s what we can learn from the Fyre festival.  

1. Influencer Marketing Is Now Being Used as a Central Marketing Strategy

The ticket sales for Fyre Festival has proved that influencer marketing has indeed crossed a critical threshold with other digital marketing efforts and is now being used as a central - and effective - marketing strategy (based on the brand). Fyre Festival used influencers as their main form of marketing, trading free tickets and flights to the festival in exchange for influencer posts on social media, and well… it worked. The crowds came.  

2. Influencer Marketing Can Drive Ticket Sales to an Event No One Has Heard Of

Not only did the crowds come, but some attendees put down between $3000 to more than $12,000 for VIP packages to attend. What can we learn from this? That influencer marketing can drive awareness and purchase intent! No one had heard of Fyre Festival until influencers started posting about it and that resulted in a *sold out festival* (actual festival execution is a whole other story that you can read all about it via social media)


3. To Drive Sales, it’s Important to Identify a list of the “Right” Influencers for Your Brand

Fyre Festival’s marketing strategy might’ve seemed like a pure “word of mouth” campaign but it was more strategic than that. Fyre Festival hired 400 influencers to promote this event, guaranteeing a minimum number of ticket sales and proved to collectively reach the festival’s target demographic (the ticket buyers). This the is the power of working with not just a few, but a roster of influencers.

4. Unlike the Fyre Festival, Follow the FTC Rules

Transparency and compliance should not be ignored and the Fyre Festival did just that. While some may fear that putting the tag #ad or #spon might ruin the authenticity of the post (which it doesn’t), it is far better than ending up charged by and under scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission. After recently going after brands for failing to disclose influencer marketing efforts, the FTC has begun regulating and imposing penalties on the influencers as well. Reelio has strict measures in place to help brands ensure compliance (see our article on brand safety).

5. This Disaster Is a Good Reminder for Influencers to Be More Thoughtful in What They Promote

(Which is Better for all Influencer Marketing)

Brand safety is a two way street. While Fyre Festival is undergoing a media firestorm (pun intended) due to their failure to deliver, the influencers that promoted the festival also took a hit to their brand credibility. This will mean influencers will likely apply more scrutiny to future branded content deals that come their way.  

Out of this disaster of an event, two trends have been reinforced for marketers 1) influencer marketing is working and 2) it’s only going to become more authentic and thus, work better. 

 Download Free eBook - 8 Tips Drive Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Alex Li

Alex runs operations at Reelio. On the weekends you find her at the dog park with her adorable new pup, Marlow.

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