First of all, this is not another post about the all-time live event fail known as the Fyre Festival. If you want to understand what went down in the Bahamas check out one of the documentaries on Netflix or Hulu. Instead, I’d like to focus on the role social influencers played in the rise and eventual fall of Fyre.
First the rise. Back in Dec’16 the organizers of Fyre had produced a splashy promotional video filled with more super models than a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. On a chosen date they launched a social media blitz the likes of which influencer marketing had never seen before. From Bella Hadid to Kendall Jenner, all the influencers who mattered simultaneously posted about this new festival that you just HAD to get to. The result was immediate and massive social buzz, which drove would-be concert goers to sellout the festival within a week.
Now fast forward to Apr’17 for the fall. Fyre had already gone horribly wrong, with attendees stranded on the island of Great Exuma with no way to get home. Because of a basic lack of infrastructure guests who were promised “a uniquely authentic island cuisine experience”, were instead given basic rations like cheese sandwiches. At that moment an intrepid young man named Trevor DeHaas posted an image of a sandwich he was served at Fyre to his 400 Twitter followers. This one post was like the social dam breaking to expose the calamity (not to mention financial scam) which was taking place in the Bahamas.
So what are the social takeaways from Fyre? First, we all need to be wary of paid social posts from mega-influencers. Kendall Jenner didn’t talk up Fyre on Instagram because she was oh so excited about the festival. She did it because she was paid $250,000. In contrast, marketers should start paying more attention to micro-influences like Trevor DeHaas, who are communicating about real experiences they’ve had with an event or product.
If we can all remember this one lesson at least something good may have come from Fyre.