Social Media Marketing Gone Wrong: The Impact of Fyre Festival

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I’m sure by now most of you have at least heard of the catastrophe that is the Fyre Festival. If you’re still living under a rock, and by that I mean not on social media, you’ve come to the right place to learn today.

This festival was set in two weekends of March and April 2017. Festival-goers were promised luxury accommodations and delicious gourmet food with VIP packages costing as much as $250,000. The young entrepreneur Billy McFarland helped Ja Rule start up this festival and pay influencers to help spread the word on the “new Coachella”. Influencers like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were posting about this amazing private island and a weekend full of music, so of course, people threw their money at them. As the dates got closer, things on social media were heating up, lots of expectations being raised with more and more influencers and artists becoming involved. One day, hundreds of influencers posted an orange block on Instagram, tagging Fyre Festival and the event blew up. Anyone who was anyone would be there so any rich millennial had to be there, too. As the first plane landed in the Bahamas, these millennials realized that had basically just got Punk’d, but even Ashton Kutcher wasn’t there.

These high-paying ticket holders landed on the beautiful island and were transported on big yellow school buses over to what people were calling “FEMA tents”. When arriving, they were served cheese sandwiches in a deserted area outside of a Sandals resort. No one there was able to help them and they soon came to realize, there was no festival happening. Blink 182 pulled out of the line-up very last minute and the snowball effect took over shortly after.

So, the lesson to learn from this is pretty simple – don’t use social media for fake festivals! I’m not serious but I am, stick with me. You cannot share things on the internet if they’re not ready to be shared. The facade social media was putting on hid the actual failures of this festival very well. This festival and Billy McFarland were in serious debt and continued to have people purchase things to pay off previous debts they owed. The hardcore planning only started four months before the event – you don’t need to be a professional event planner to know that that just isn’t going to happen. This festival did have a lot of potential to get where it wanted to be, but it was shared way too early, in its baby stages. The planning either needed to start way earlier or the actual festival dates needed to be pushed back.

Influencer marketing – it’s a real and very tricky attempt at marketing these days, especially after this incident. Obviously, paying someone with a huge following on social media will get you results. Not every marketing company can hire Kendall Jenner, of course, but there are plenty of social media influencers out there ready to take your money for some promo. There’s no way anyone will trust Bella Hadid talking about a music festival ever again, but the ability to reach millennials through influencers is really untainted. It’s the type of influencer that you’ll see change, though. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, big-name influencers have never been trustworthy to the average consumer. It’s the smaller influencers that are more connected with their audience, making those consumers want to buy more.

Just know that if whatever you do sucks, people WILL know about it. It didn’t even take a full 24 hours for the Fyre Festival to turn to Fyre Fraud, and it’s all thanks to the first few planes full of millennial influencers that touched down to a deserted festival. As shocked as they were to arrive at nothing, they did what they do best – they naturally took to social media sharing their underwhelming “gourmet food” and the totally secure lockers that there were no locks for. The festival’s popularity grew overnight with one post just like it only took one post to have the whole thing up in flames.

Overall, the content you create is the most important aspect of any social media marketing campaign. The way Fyre Festival went about it obviously left a lot of things up for interpretation, which worked out tremendously in their campaign trail, but the aftermath has been detrimental to their festival business, as well as the app they created. All the reputations of the people involved have been seriously damaged all because what they were promoting did not line up with what their customers were receiving. Social media is an internet monster and you’ve got to learn the ins-and-outs of it before you attempt any kind of brand awareness – it would be a mistake to jump in head first with nothing prepared (just like this Fyre Frenzy).

So thanks to social media, McFarland ended up fraudulently receiving over $27.4 million, and he’s happily enjoying all of this fame and fortune in jail. I’d stay away from fake posts if I were you.

About Jenna Damron

Meet Jenna Damron, an experienced and passionate writer who specializes in marketing and advertising.