Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses popular individuals to drive a brand message, product or service. Influencers are hired to promote this brand on their own platforms to their own audience. Social media has allowed this marketing strategy to be implemented virtually anywhere in the world. Famous athletes, models, actors, musicians or public figures can advertise a brand or product on their own Twitter or Instagram account with a click of a button.
With the practice of influencer marketing also comes the debate of social responsibility. Do these influential individuals have a responsibility to their audience and their followers? Or is what they are promoting simply a business deal?
Fyre Festival Flop
One of the biggest flops of influencer marketing in the last few years was the Fyre Festival. This event was advertised to be a luxury music festival for two weekends in April and May 2017 on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas. However, it quickly turned into chaos. This festival was organized by Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. The marketing and advertising efforts surrounding this event focused on the use of influencer marketing by using figures such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and other models.
During the opening weekend of the festival, the event experiences a plethora of difficulties. There were many issues relating to the food, room accommodations, artist relations and security. Eventually, Fyre Festival was “indefinitely postponed” after people had already arrived. Commotion surfaced after individuals found plastic tents and prepackaged sandwiches instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals. The state of the festival did not satisfy the ticket-payers who paid thousands of dollars for admission.
At the end of this chaotic whirlwind of disappointment, the organizers faced 8 lawsuits of defrauding ticket buyers. Not only did the organizers face difficulties, but influencer celebrities who advertised it were put in the line of fire.
The Fyre Festival flop raised questions about the social responsibility of the influencer marketers. Celebrities who were featured in Fyre advertisements and posted on their personal pages faced ridicule after the event quickly failed.
Forbes features a video series titled “The Business of Influence” and one of the episodes reviews social responsibility specifically relating to the Fyre Festival.
“Is it your responsibility as a consumer to be more discerning? Or is it the responsibility of the influencer to know what they are selling? Or both?”
Forbes believes that one of the first concerning moves the Fyre Festival organizers made was by putting a quarter of a million dollars in the hands of 3 models for influencer marketing. Fyre Festival centered their marketing strategies around the hype of the event but not enough focus on the actual delivery of the end product. Celebrity influencers need to remain knowledgable and accountable about the products and brands they are advertising. That is also why there has been development among the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) laws requiring these influencers to be transparent with their advertisements. This is why influencers are clearly labeling their post with “#ad” to show which posts are personal opinion and what ones are endorsements.
Who To Blame When Influencer Marketing Goes Wrong? -Forbes “The Business of Influence”
Overall, I think the Fyre Festival flop uncovered a large problem among influencer marketers and called attention to social responsibility. It has been almost a year since this event caused commotion among the marketing world and a lot has been learned. Influencers need to hold standards, morals and knowledge when presenting a brand to the public. Also, both the company and influencers have a responsibility to consumers to stay true to what has been advertised. The biggest lesson learned for consumers is that influencer marketing can seem cool and trendy, but we need to remember that these individuals are getting paid.
Influencer marketing is a great way to build brand image and recognition when done correctly. With technology quickly advancing, it is easy for consumers to connect with a brand via Instagram or Twitter and having a friendly face associated will differentiate these companies in the eyes of the consumer. But it is important that everyone takes ownership of their role in this buying process. The company, the influencer and the consumer all need to hold responsibility and accountability for the end result.
Comment or connect with me
I would love to hear what you think about influencer marketing in todays world of technology. If you have any comments or questions, comment below or connect with me.