Be Careful How ‘Fyre’d’ up You Get About Influencer Marketing

Be Careful How ‘Fyre’d’ up You Get About Influencer Marketing

Fyre Festival was an immense marketing success, which set it up to be an epic failure in execution. Leasing the social media “real estate” of supermodels and other Instagram influencers is certainly nothing new. Fyre Festival organizers paid Kendall Jenner an astonishing $250,000 for a single Instagram post (since deleted) and that was only one instance. Entrepreneurs need to be well aware of these risks before committing funds to a marketing program that relies heavily on the fleeting nature of “Internet celebrity.” Influencer marketing offers little to no accountability. So, your preferred influencer has a million followers on Instagram. Last year, two of their brands (Olay and Pampers) placed in the top 10 brands using influencers with large fake follower counts. Influencers can put the focus on the wrong thing. One of the mistakes Fyre organizers made was prioritizing buzz over substance. And there seems to be no end of ways for some influencers to get into public trouble. SEO expert and Moz founder Rand Fishkin noted this last year in a tweet, when he observed that influencer marketing used to mean a brand would "discover all the sources that influence your audience and do marketing (of all kinds) in those places.” This approach to influencer marketing is value-added.

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Fyre Festival was an immense marketing success, which set it up to be an epic failure in execution.

Be Careful How 'Fyre'd' up You Get About Influencer Marketing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’ve heard the one about the disastrous music festival that never happened. Of course you have. With two documentaries (one on Netflix, the other on Hulu) and countless articles about it, the Fyre Festival debacle has penetrated the global zeitgeist.

Yet beyond a healthy dose of schadenfreude, the failure of Fyre certainly offers some valuable lessons in marketing and branding, specifically regarding its influencer campaign.

Leasing the social media “real estate” of supermodels and other Instagram influencers is certainly nothing new. Fyre Festival organizers paid Kendall Jenner an astonishing $250,000 for a single Instagram post (since deleted) and that was only one instance. Now Jenner and other models and Instagram influencers may have to testify in bankruptcy court about the money disgraced organizer Billy McFarland paid them.

While influencer marketing admittedly sometimes yields phenomenal results, there are serious risks to taking an unprincipled or haphazard approach to its implementation. Entrepreneurs need to be well aware of these risks before committing funds to a marketing program that relies heavily on the fleeting nature of “Internet celebrity.”

Influencer marketing offers little to no accountability.

So, your preferred influencer has a million followers on Instagram. Are those followers real or fake?

Even Fortune 500 companies can’t always tell. Look at Procter & Gamble, for example. Last year, two of their brands (Olay and Pampers) placed in the top 10 brands using influencers with large fake follower counts. The number one brand on that list was Ritz-Carlton. The hotel and hospitality group used “influencers” whose followers were 78 percent bought and paid for, instead of the real deal.

Olay and Pampers had to rely on someone else (the Points North Group) to find and illuminate this problem for them. You can use tools such as Instascreener to identify influencers with large fake follower counts…

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