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The Power of Influencer Marketing: Fyre Festival Case Study

Tarandip Kaur

Mar 17, 2019

Ask anybody and they would have likely bought a product or visited a restaurant because an influencer endorsed it. This concept of influencer marketing is no longer a novel one as scores of influencers have found a comfortable place on social media platforms.

Previously, celebrity or mega influencers tend to take the spotlight. Now, you’ll find more tiers of influencers, namely, macro, micro and nano influencers.

In today’s digital age, with multiple social platforms taking consumer attention away from traditional media, it’s even more crucial to engage with your target audience on these platforms. The best way to do so? By working with specific social influencers to directly promote your brand, product or event to their legion of loyal followers.

The now infamous Fyre Festival is a prime example of utilizing iconic influencers to drive awareness and desire on a grand scale. While the event itself did not deliver on its luxurious promises thanks to extreme mismanagement, there are some pertinent pointers to learn from their influencer marketing strategy.

Table of Contents

Below you will find insights into Fyre festival’s influencer campaign and learning points to design your own influencer campaign. Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

What is Fyre Festival?

Marketed as the social event to be seen at in 2017, Fyre Festival was advertised as a highly luxurious, super exclusive music festival on an idyllic island in the Bahamas. However, with a lack of proper management and operational guidelines, the event quickly turned into a 24-hour catastrophe.

Nonetheless, while the founders were evidently at fault for failing to deliver what was communicated in marketing materials, their influencer marketing campaign was regarded as a success.  

The founders kickstarted the influencer campaign by working with 10 supermodels to create the vision of an uber-luxury experience of a lifetime. In totality, the supermodels boasted millions of fans and by engaging them, the team was able to spread the festival’s message in the widest scope possible.

Photo of hands up in a crowd

How Fyre Festival started a #wildfyre

To jump-start the campaign, Fyre Festival’s founders flew a band of high profile supermodels to the Bahamas for a glamourous photo and video shoot. What followed were visually stunning behind-the-scenes Instagram posts by models like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski to announce the upcoming event.

This worked in the founders’ favour to build curiosity and trigger conversations online. So much so that media outlets and the supermodels’ fans were all pining to know what the supermodels were working on while in the Bahamas. As highlighted in the word cloud below generated by Meltwater’s Media Monitoring tool, topics covered in digital publications in the early stages largely hovered around the private island, potential music acts, VIP access and mentions of the supermodels promoting the event.

Word Cloud of a Boolean search regarding Fyre festival

Considering this was a first-time music festival with tickets upwards of US$1,500, this was a great way to generate buzz. Once that hype built up across the supermodels’ legion of following, the founders widened their net by engaging 400 celebrity and macro influencers. Each one of them then uploaded a simple orange tile on Instagram in a coordinated move using the hashtag #FyreFest.

Instagram Post Fyre Festival

Spreading like ‘wildfyre’, this unified influencer effort on a single day and at a specific time was powerful enough to sell out general admission tickets for the event.

Photo of two young people lying down with their sunglasses in the sun

Impact of engaging influencers

Ultimately, Fyre Festival’s well-constructed influencer campaign proved to be highly effective for a couple of reasons:

1. It drove a significant increase in mass awareness

If executed well with the right influencers, a coordinated move to promote a brand or product could reap tremendous results. In Fyre Festival’s case, according to a pitch deck, the team claimed to have reached 300 million impressions in 24 hours when the orange tile push kicked off. Additionally, Kendall Jenner’s post announcing the first headliner, G.O.O.D Music Family, claimed to have amassed 6 million unique impressions within 5 days.

2. It reached the relevant target audience

Thanks to the team’s clever selection of aspirational influencers, they managed to drive immense desire among their followers, mainly millennials with the capacity to spend. This goes to show it’s not enough to only consider if an influencer is a good fit for your brand. It’s just as important to identify if their followers are the target audience you want to reach.

3. It boosted ticket sales rapidly

For any campaign, the biggest indicator of success is often seen through conversion. For Fyre Festival, conversion through the coordinated campaign resulted in 5000 people purchasing tickets worth US$4000 within minutes. For a new and unknown event, selling out tickets in that speed was a mean feat.

Unfortunately for Fyre Festival, the reality did not match the lavish vision marketed. One lesson to learn here: before embarking on any campaign, always ensure there is a true product to promote.

Photo of a young woman wearing a hat on vacation

Key considerations before diving into an influencer campaign

At the end of the day, while influencer marketing can be a hugely effective method to directly reach your target audience and promote a new brand or product, it needs to be done with some thought. There’s no one solution that fits all as each brand will have a different set of objectives and influencers that will resonate with them.

Before launching your influencer campaign, here are some points to take into consideration:

1. Aim to select influencers who are a natural fit with your brand

To create a genuine relationship, it’s important to select influencers who are aligned with your brand’s vision and objectives. Start by asking yourself if the particular influencer will use your product or engage with your brand in their daily life. Taking the time to select the right influencer will make your message a lot more believable.
Do not make the mistake of selecting a general group of influencers because of their large following. In this case, you might risk losing credibility among their followers if posts appear to be a misfit or disingenuous

2. Look out for influencers with followers who align with your target market

Besides screening the influencers, it’s worthwhile having a look at the type of audience that engages with the selected influencer on their posts. If those fans fit your target audience profile then you know by working with the influencer, you’ll have a better chance of reaching the exact target market you want. 

3. Ensure influencers disclose sponsored posts

Managing your influencer campaign from start to end

With the wide variety of influencers around, finding and selecting the best, most relevant influencers is often said to be the most difficult part of influencer marketing. If you’re going down the in-house route to select influencers and you don’t have some form of platform to help you, the task would quickly become quite challenging.

Common challenges when choosing influencers in a campaign:

  • Time-consuming to research and screen influencers manually
  • Inability to determine demographics of influencer’s following
  • Unsure of past campaigns influencers have worked on
  • Difficulty in calculating average engagement rate across posts

To lighten your load, various influencer platforms like Klear exist to help you match influencers to what you’re looking for. Before you engage such a tool, ensure the platform allows you to look for influencers across multiple social platforms. The tool should also provide the capability to understand the influencer’s key demographics, their engagement levels and identify if they have organically engaged with your brand in the past (highlighting the potential to be a natural fit).

One such tool is Meltwater’s Social Influencer platform, which allows you to discover the right influencers across multiple platforms and categories, manage influencer programs and monitor and measure performance all in one place.

Screenshot of the Meltwater Social Influencer Tool

On the platform, you can effectively sift through a sophisticated influencer search engine to find influencers that fit your brand and align with your target market. Beyond that, once a campaign has kicked off, you can track your campaign’s progress by measuring engagement and reach on each influencer’s post. This would be helpful if you notice any need to tweak the campaign to achieve greater success.

Checklist for selecting an influencer campaign management tool

The tool should be able to

  • Search for influencers by topics, locations and social handles
  • Search for influencers in a specific social platform
  • Provide insights into an influencer’s page, including True Reach, Engagement, Audience demographics, Followers’ interests and brands they’ve worked with
  • Connect and share campaign briefs with Influencers directly on the platform
  • Monitor and analyse the impact of activated influencers’ content

As we’ve seen from Fyre Festival, it’s also crucial to monitor sentiment around your influencer campaign. This way you can track when sentiment goes south for some reason and effectively pause all activations to mitigate a potential crisis. It’s always better to stay atop of things rather than getting caught off guard.   

The Meltwater Media Monitoring tool is an easy solution to help marketers monitor sentiment and trends around an ongoing influencer campaign. Start by setting up specific searches and create crisis alerts so you’ll be notified immediately if things go awry. The software will then monitor mentions across millions of online articles, social media posts and print content so you won’t miss anything.

All in all, Fyre Festival highlighted the power of influencer marketing. However, it’s crucial to have all aspects of the activity and objectives aligned before executing any marketing campaign. Otherwise, it could all fizzle up in smoke.

As for influencer marketing, with the right tool to help you select the right influencers, you’ll be one step closer to running an effective campaign. Prop that up with a dose of creativity, proper management, monitoring and measurement, it shouldn’t take long for the campaign to quickly take flight.