Fyre Social Media Influencers

Brands use influencer marketing as a way to create buzz and brand awareness. However, the Fyre Festival disaster is a lesson in influencer marketing gone wrong. Want to avoid bad PR and master brand marketing? Read our tips here…

LONDON, United Kingdom – A dose of Netflix’s new documentary on the now legendary Fyre Festival debacle is a crash-course on how not to manage and meet customer expectations.

The documentary reveals how the festival was a far cry from the luxury experience promised; 5-star accommodation was replaced with refugee tents. Gourmet culinary experiences ended up being cheese sandwiches served in styrofoam boxes. A-list celebrities and influencers? A complete no show. Above all, the festival was cancelled due to dangerous health and safety conditions. CEO of the Fyre Festival Billy McFarland was eventually arrested for defrauding investors out of $27.4 million and is currently sentenced to 6 years behind bars.

The role that influencers played in duping festivalgoers raises questions around how murky the practice has become. Here’s our guide on the new rules to live by when it comes to influencer marketing.

1. The importance of disclosure

What constitutes an advertisement or an endorsement? Fyre Festival blurred the line between genuine engagement and an advertorial. Elite models and influencers posted enviable snaps on social media which soon created a viral storm. Tickets retailing at $12,000 dollars sold out in minutes.

A survey from Fullscreen reveals that 1 in 3 people trust an influencer over a brand advertisement. However, influencers have the responsibility to clearly disclose to audiences when a paid transaction has taken place in return for a social media post. Despite the efforts of advertising boards like the ASA, posts often go unmarked without any sort of signpost that its an advertisement. If in any doubt, refer to the Influencer ASA guidelines here.

Alessandra Ambrossio and social media influencer, Gizele Oliveira on Fyre Festival island.
A picture of happier days – Fyre Festival Promotional Shoot

2. Be careful of data compliance

When it comes to data compliance, an obvious hurdle for European brands and marketers are the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Many brands and marketers choose to work with an influencer as their audience aligns with the brand. Personal information is often shared between the brand and influencer including age, demographic, audience income etc. But using statistics for third party marketing has been placed under severe restriction following the Facebook Cambridge-Analytica fiasco. So, make sure that your brand is on the right side of the line. Influencers also need to be mindful of sharing audience statistics with brands without obtaining prior consent from their followers.

3. Authenticity matters – be careful of your alliances

Influencer marketing is a preferred promotional tactic for brands but it can go wrong quickly. Brands need to make sure that influencers are aligned with the personal ethics of the brand. If you are an eco- friendly brand and sustainability is the raison d’etre for your fashion brand – make sure to find the right promotional partner who feels the same way as you do. Our 2018 Retail Innovation Conference outlined that millennials care and identify with brands that hold similar beliefs and values as they do. Customers are savvy and can sense insincerity.

4. Don’t ignore loyalists

It seems basic, but don’t ignore the loyal fan base that you already have! Fyre Festival ignored the needs of the customers at its peril. Angry customers destroyed the reputation of the festival with an outpour of social media posts on Twitter and Instagram. Your audience is just as ready to be a social warrior when brands step out of line. Subsequent backlash from one viral post led to the swift downfall of the brand. Influencers can play a part in a brand strategy but never forget that the customer is the heart of the brand.

Yoga model performing wearing lululemon leggings.
Image courtesy of Lululemon

5. Our last prediction? A return to brand marketing

An organic grassroots approach towards influencer marketing is going to take place from 2019 onwards. An influencer may not even be what you picture them to be. We have seen a number of brands working with true brand advocates instead of paying influencers. The saturated market means that paid posts have to work harder to gain the same results in audience engagement and traffic.

“We’re all athletes and living the lifestyle,” Antonia Iamartino, Designer at Lululemon

Lululemon has been opting to work with its own employees to promote the brand. This way, the brand has full control of brand messaging and tone of voice. Products are tested on the company’s 1,500 engaged ambassadors before being released to mass market. Lululemon’s strong brand positioning is unlike other sporting companies. It does not work with sponsored athletes in the traditional sense. Brand ambassadors serve as on the ground evangelists – yogis, triathletes, personal trainers that are personally aligned to the Lululemon cause. According to Antonia Iamartino, Designer at Lululemon, all employees of Lululemon are “athletes” that are “living the lifestyle”.

What are your thoughts on the Fyre Festival? Do you believe the influencers were in part to blame for this festival gone wrong?

Do you need help with your digital marketing strategy? Are you trying to promote your brand in the right way? We offer digital training and digital consultancy services for social media editorial, influencer marketing, paid ads and social promotion. Get in touch and see how we can help today.

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