By now, you have probably heard about the trainwreck that was the Fyre Festival. This music festival, conceptualized by Ja Rule, was positioned as the exotic alternative to Coachella. What really happened, however, when festival goers arrived in the Bahamas looking forward to a weekend of sunshine, EDM, and Instagram photos galore, looked a lot more like hell than Coachella.
Hopes for the festival were high. After all, celebrities like supermodels like Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner promoted the event on their social media profiles. Fyre’s pitch deck, which was recently leaked, cited a strategy of influencer marketing. The influencers were dubbed the “Fyre Starters”, and over 400 of them were recruited to share promotional videos and photos of the Fyre Festival on social media, talk about how excited they were about attending, and generate buzz for the event. While the event ranged in price from $1,500 to $12,500 for regular attendees, the Fyre Starters were offered free flights, accommodations, and tickets.
The pitch deck claims that the Fyre Starters had reached 300 million social impressions within the first 48 hours of promotions. Still, within a few hours of the event actually starting, many of these posts from the Fyre Starters were quickly deleted. While the influencers were nowhere to be seen at the festival, the people that actually did show up arrived to find the festival grounds relatively empty, severely lacking in the promised amenities.
The festival began its epic downfall much in the same way that it had been so hyped up: via social media. Festivalgoers took to various social media platforms to share news, photos, and anger surrounding the fiasco.
— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017
— Alex Sanchez (@AXELSCYTHE) April 28, 2017
— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
And after the dust had settled a bit, people began to call out the celebrity influencers.
— Chris Kardashian (@BaddieLambily) April 28, 2017
This failure has led people, and marketers in particular to ask: What does this mean for the future of influencer marketing? It certainly doesn’t look good.
#fyrefestival is influencer marketing in it’s WORST form. Yes, it worked, but it worked for a shitty product. Yall still trust Kendall?
— Malik (@NegaMaliReid) April 28, 2017
Influencer marketing has previously been touted as more effective than traditional marketing, with research to back it up. For example, Twitter users report a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when they are exposed to content from influencers. Despite this, there will likely be a decrease in trust in celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing. This incident has shed light on the reality that, in many scenarios, celebrities are promoting goods and events purely for financial gain, not because they truly use, love, and believe in the products.
So, if influencer marketing is taking a hit as an effective marketing strategy, what can be done? Marketers should move more towards social media advocacy from their own customer bases. While the average customer may not have a following anywhere close to that of Kendall Jenner, the collective voice of satisfied customers can be an extremely powerful marketing tool, and it has been proven that people are more likely to trust recommendations when they come from friends or peers, or other customers in general. In fact, Nielsen reported that 68% of people trust online opinions from other consumers.
Marketers should work to encourage customers to share positive messages about the brand, product, or organization. This user-generated content serves as a great way to generate buzz, and can be repurposed by the company itself and shared on social media channels as marketing that will be seen as more authentic, since it is coming from real customers. When potential customers see this user-generated content, they will not have the same fear that has been induced in many after the Fyre situation- the fear that the influencers do not actually know or support what they are promoting.
With all this in mind, a social media advocacy platform like Fanzee can be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps organizations turn customers into brand advocates. As the complete campaign management platform for social media advocacy, Fanzee makes the process of generating word-of-mouth marketing more seamless and effective, allowing organizations to better take advantage of this powerful marketing method. Click here to learn more about how Fanzee can help.