In the wake of the Fyre Festival debacle, there have been countless articles written analyzing what, exactly, went wrong. There are a surprising number of theories, given how obvious it is where the problems started (spoiler alert: it was the moment Ja Rule and Billy McFarland decided to do it). Since the fest flamed out in real time on social media, much has been documented about what was going behind the scenes. Story after story reveals systemic incompetence, arrogance, and downright fraudulent behavior of the festival’s organizers. But as we all sat watching this comedy of errors unfold, before any of the seedier facts about FyreFest became known, much of the blame was placed squarely on the shoulders of one group: the Instagram influencers who started posting about it in December to ramp up awareness and excitement.
Every industry has influencers—people who have the ability, because of their power or knowledge (real or perceived), to influence purchase decisions. Hollywood has celebrities, fashion has models, and business has its moguls. Many influencers publish posts in https://venitism.wordpress.com
Social influencers are bloggers, social media personalities, or industry experts who have developed large and loyal followings by being insightful, entertaining, engaging, transparent, humorous, and—most importantly—human. This connection creates a bond between social influencers and their fans and followers that give these influencers unprecedented authority.
For a long time, influencer marketing was about leveraging these people to get in front of their audiences, but that’s not a long-term strategy (and it’s not very nice). A better, mutually beneficial approach is partnering with them to improve everyone’s brand.
Once upon a time, influencers were just regular people who used social media to share their opinions, lives, projects and passions to those who would listen. And listen they did.
Wired magazine published a piece in early May called “Blame the Fyre Festival Fiasco on the Plague of Celebrity Influencers.” The New York Times used the event to chronicle “The Rise and (Maybe) Fall of Influencers.” DMN News took a more socratic approach by asking the question “Is the Fyre Festival a Turning Point for Influencer Marketing?” The running theme through all these articles, though, was a similar sentiment: influencer marketing is at fault for what happened, and is a possibly dangerous tool in the marketer’s toolbox. Influencer marketers themselves latched on to these criticisms and hailed them as proof of influencer marketing’s power. It’s an argument that makes sense: if influencer marketing is responsible for getting thousands of people to buy ticket and show up to the middle nowhere for an unproven music festival, it obviously works.
This feeling has been echoed by many in the industry, and I have the great privilege and honor of telling them all this: you are dead wrong. Fyre Fest was a spectacular failure long before it was publicly known as a spectacular failure. That’s because among the many things the festival’s organisers didn’t put much thought into was how they’d use influencer marketing. Consider these facts:
On December 12, the Fyre Festival influencer campaign launched. 63 influencers simultaneously posted a vague orange colored graphic to social media with the hashtag #FyreFest, garnering over 300 million impressions in 24 hours.
Each of these influencers was paid handsomely for the post. Famously, Kendall Jenner topped the list with a $250K fee; every other influencer was paid not less than $20,000.
The influencer marketing campaign extended beyond this initial launch, eventually with over 400 influencers getting Fyre posts in front of hundreds of millions of eyes.
This campaign included spending millions on flying the models/influencers down to the Bahamas every other weekend, so the models could take pictures from the beach and on yachts and post about FyreFest.
In its pitch deck to investors, Fyre organisers claimed all 40,000 tickets would be sold by March 31.
By April 27, when the first people started to arrive on the island, the fest had sold only 8,000 tickets. That’s less than 25% of the total available, and many of them sold at heavily discounted rates after the influencer campaign failed to convert impressions into purchases.
Even if we assume all tickets were purchased as a result of the influencer marketing campaign, this is an embarrassing underperformance. Contrary to what Eyal said, if Fyre Fest had gone off without a hitch—but with the same ticket sales—influencer marketing’s reputation would have taken a huge hit. And this would be just as wrong a conclusion.
Studies show 92 percent of people trust recommendations from other people over brands. Teens have a seven times higher emotional attachment to internet stars than to traditional celebs. And 49 percent of people rely on influencer recommendations when they’re making a purchase. That’s rely as in trust. Readers trust influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com
Because of this power, brands have become addicted to influencers—and like most addictions, it’s led to increasingly diminished returns for the same action. With influencers now representing a billion-dollar industry populated by innovative and inventive creators, influencer marketing needs to become deeper than a product sent in the mail and a post on Instagram. It’s time to explore a new model that benefits both brands and influencers.
Until now, brands have practiced three levels of influencer marketing.
Level 1 uses PR to send free brand product and information to target influencers, hoping for earned media (or at least a response).
Level 2 allocates media spend to pay relevant influencers with desirable audiences to create “cool” content that showcases the brand in a positive light.
Level 3 builds meaningful, advocate-level relationships with influencers who authentically love and embrace the brand in a way that spans beyond a video, campaign or launch.
Most brands have accomplished level one and two. Only the smartest, most
But today’s influencers are operating as businesses, not just communities—and as businesses, they want more from the brands with which they work.
Innovation: Demonstrate new ideas to their audience
Discovery: Help in growing their audience
Products: Access to things that excite their audience
Research: Knowledge about their audience
Resources: Support producing kick-ass creative for their audience
Welcome to level 4, where marketers treat content creators as businesses, help them add value to their brands while bringing value to their audiences—and both sides see greater benefits. You can see that happening in https://venitism.wordpress.com
It begins with marketers giving creators access to the newest products before they hit shelves, and moves into sharing audience data, helping identify growth opportunities, and even providing production assistance including studio time, professional content editing and fresh collaborations.
In exchange, influencers can offer brands preferred rates, disruptive creative, faster speed to market, higher credibility and, ultimately, sales.
So how do we make it happen?
Commit to the process. Reworking how your brand collaborates with influencers isn’t going to happen overnight. Commit to the process and understand that evolving relationships with creators will take time and learning.
Identify the right people. Use data to select the perfect partners and elevate their creative beyond “pay-to-post.” Influencer networks are a great starting resource for this step, as many of them have tools that follow and categorize influencers across every vertical possible.
Approach any influencer with the opportunity to become a strategic partner and write the terms. Test this out with a few influencers first. Work out the kinks. Find out exactly what they’re looking for from brands. Learn from each other. It might take a couple of months and that’s okay because good marketing is about being right, not just first.
Scale. After successfully identifying and building a partnership with a few key influencers, it’s time to scale up. You’ll quickly reap the benefits.
So, let’s get over the influence. Evolve from paying for posts. Write new contracts for a new breed of influencers.
Find people who are not in it for the money but those who are in it for value and in it for their audience. Give advocates what they want: access to new products from you and from social platforms, insights on their audience and how to grow it, production assistance including studio time, editing and fresh collaborations.
In exchange, brands can receive preference, better creative, faster response and greater credibility. Become partners in business and work together for mutual value, not just media value.
There’s this misconception that if marketing happens on social media it falls into the influencer category. But what the Fyre Festival did with its social marketing is much closer to celebrity endorsements than influencer campaigns. Again, Kendall Jenner was paid an astounding $250,000 for one post on Instagram to plug a festival that no one (including her) knew anything about. In the early 90’s, her mother Caitlyn (then Bruce) also took a bunch of money to endorse a product that turned out to be a disaster: the Stair Climber Plus. Timothy O’Leary, the man behind the Stair Climber infomercial recalls, “I remember the director muttering, ‘If this infomercial works, we’re all going to hell.’” The only difference between these two situations is that with Kendall’s post, people didn’t know she was being paid for it until it was too late. Kendall’s post has since been removed but here is the original post – unfortunately not in great resolution.
It’s that lack of transparency by Kendall Jenner and the Fyre Festival organisation that made her post (and all the others from Fyre influencers) subject to criticism. Completely missed in all this is Kendall’s apparent lack of influence on her followers. That’s the story here, because it proves what we’ve been saying here all along: that true influencer marketing happens at the micro-level. Whether or not people knew she was paid doesn’t change the fact she’s got no real connection with her followers. At the time of her post, she had 72.5 million followers—a number she achieved by already being famous. If all 8,000 tickets sold could be attributed to Kendall Jenner’s plugging of the festival, that’s a little more than 1/10th of 1% of her fans. In other words, McFarland & Co. paid $250,000 to convert 8,000 post views into sales. This could have been achieved at a fraction of the cost, using micro-influencers with an even smaller fraction of followers.
Register your interest to attend the Inaugural Influencer Marketing Conference to be hosted in London. Learn more about leading platforms, agencies and influencers.
So, no, we can’t even credit their influencer campaign as the one thing they did right. But we can learn from these mistakes, and many marketers are already making changes to the way they do things going forward—specifically because of what they’ve witnessed through the Fyre Festival. We surveyed 287 marketers in the US and found a group of people acting very much like they’d received a wake up call.
Less than half of our group (132 people) admitted they hadn’t paid much mind to the Federal Trade Commision’s regulations before Fyre Fest. In the wake of the fallout, though, and with the FTC already cracking down before Fyre Fest imploded, every single one of them stated that maintaining compliance will be a top priority.
While 83% stated they felt Fyre’s influencer campaigns were a success, a larger share of respondents (94%) stated they were “Not Likely” or “Very Unlikely” to seek out big name influencers for future projects. The most commonly cited reason for this change was the cost and complexity of dealing with big name stars.
Within that group of 94%, nearly three-quarters of them said they had already been looking in that direction, and the fallout from Fyre Festival cemented their decision.
These statistics show that not only is influencer marketing here to stay, but it’s only going to get more effective. Marketers don’t seem as willing to throw money at influencers based on follower count. Marco-influencers with more than a million followers are seeing their value significantly diminished, while those with a smaller reach are going to find themselves in higher demand. This growth, we think, will be checked by the new reality that Fyre Festival has wrought—meaning more thoughtful approaches to campaigns that will better harness the power of influencer marketing.
In life there are always winners and losers, and the case of the Fyre Festival demonstrates that. Billy McFarland and Ja Rule certainly don’t come out of this as winners, and many thousands of people—from the ticket holders to the ticket sellers and everyone in between—lost money because of their involvement. But their failure is marketing’s success. Influencer marketing has been put in the spotlight, maybe not for the best reasons, but the added attention and scrutiny will force a more rapid maturation of the industry.
No matter where you are in your content marketing campaign, influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com can help take you to the next level.
- Influencers can keep content relevant. Influencers spend every day in the trenches with their audiences, so they understand the market better than anybody else. Partnering with them from the beginning of a project or campaign can provide brands with some extra insights.
- Customers trust customers. Because the relationship between an influencer and his or her audience is built upon transparency, a friendly recommendation from a trusted influencer is going to be ten times more likely to convert a customer.
- They can cut through the clutter. If fans receive an email, or see a social post from someone that they readily follow, they are much more likely to open that email or click on that link than the same message coming from a brand they may be familiar with but don’t have a personal relationship.
If you can get enough influencers talking about your product or your brand in https://venitism.wordpress.com, you start to really get noticed.
In short, influencers boost your content’s credibility. Their counsel can help brands stay relevant, and their endorsements (which they’re more likely to give if a brand has partnered with them and sought their advice from the beginning) speaks louder than your content alone.
Identifying and Recruiting Your Top Online Influencers
The trick is finding the perfect influencers for your target audience and your content marketing. To really make an impact, you need to look for partners. The right influencers for your brand:
- Maintain audiences that align with your target market
- Share your brand’s passions and values
- Are willing to partner with you in a mutually beneficial relationship
Once you’ve found potential influencers in https://venitism.wordpress.com, start getting to know them. Follow their social media profiles, engage in their conversations, share their content, etc. If you’re not sure that someone is a good fit for your brand—just ask. Ask them about their passions, their motivations, etc.
When you’re sure that an influencer in https://venitism.wordpress.com is a good fit, send a private message or pick up the phone (yes, this really works) and be straight-forward about what you’re looking for—and what you have to offer. Remember that a working partnership is mutually beneficial, so be prepared to detail how you are going to help the influencer:
- How can you expand his or her audience/network? Do you have a relevant audience to share with the influencer? Can he or she publish on your content platform(s)?
- What kind of perks can your brand provide? Sneak previews? Merchandise? Event access? Personnel access?
- Are there other opportunities you can create for training or education that will benefit the influencer in his or her niche?
Remember that the relationship between influencers and their audience in https://venitism.wordpress.com is built upon trust, so you have to prove to them that you are worthy of their (and their audiences’) time and money.
Make sure you have a clear plan for the role influencers will play in your content marketing strategy in https://venitism.wordpress.com before you get them on board. Simply creating content and asking them to share it is not a partnership or a sustainable relationship. Create a plan for how they will be involved in your content campaigns:
- Amass invaluable market insights. Consult with influencers on what topics are driving engagement in your industry and which platforms to use to reach your target audience.
- Attain ringing endorsements. Give your influencers a sample of your content in return for a positive endorsement on their social platforms or blogs. Consider sending a pre-publication draft to them for a positive quote to include in the content or on relevant landing pages.
- Share each other’s platforms. A great influencer marketing tactic is to swap guest posts or interviews. This gives both your influencer and your company a new platform to promote each other’s brands.
- Create collaborative content. Take your market research to the next level by collaborating with influencer(s) on a comprehensive and engagement-focused content plan. Influencers live off of creating engaging content and can completely transform your content marketing efforts. Not only did it provide value to our audience, it gave the participating influencers exposure to a large group of people as our definitive guides are heavily promoted.
Too many influencers have been abused at the hands of brands who just wanted to pay for their audiences, usually with cheap give-aways, but most genuine, long-term influencers have caught on and are highly protective of their audiences. Earn their trust by being worthy of it, and consider influencer marketing a partnership.
Start paying attention to who is driving conversations in your industry, and get to know them. If an influencer is a good fit for your brand, and you’re willing to make it worth their while, establishing a relationship will be easier than you might think.
Successful influencer marketing in https://venitism.wordpress.com is all about credibility and trust. So it’s ironic that the category is suffering its own integrity issues. The promise of influencer marketing is its ability to scale the kind of authentic influence people experience offline. These are the trusted conversations and recommendations that occur between people. You know, word-of-mouth.
Today, influencer marketing is a paid reach vehicle. It’s seen as a way to get celebrities and other tastemakers to endorse a product on their various social feeds. Done transparently—something that doesn’t always occur—that’s a solid strategy for building awareness. But it misses out on impacting both consideration and intent, the other key parts of the purchase funnel. And it’s not really the way influencer marketing should work.
It’s time for the industry to address this and stop pretending that paying someone to hawk products is influencer marketing. It’s time to get back to the harder—but infinitely more rewarding—work of gaining fans through building great products, cultivating genuine relationships and telling authentic, inspiring stories.
Let’s start by identifying our biggest advocates—the people who love our products and the lifestyle they make possible. These are types of influencers we call experts, the ones who are super-passionate about a topic. They often have years of experience and a depth of knowledge that make them trusted sources. These are the kinds of people who just ooze excitement when they talk about their passions, and that excitement inspires consumers everywhere.
Then let’s use these trusted influencers to focus on the parts of the purchase funnel that drive sales and build long-term loyalty. Simple endorsements drive awareness. They introduce your brand to new potential consumers and provide an opportunity for consumers to learn more. Trusted advice, on the other hand, drives intent. It puts your products into the right hands: The people who already use and care about them and who will share their experiences with others.
For brand marketers, it’s time to go beyond follower counts and look to the people who actually influence others in https://venitism.wordpress.com to purchase your products. Experticity partnered with research group Engagement Labs in an attempt to quantify that influence and they discovered that these authentic influencers have 15 times the buying conversations of everyday people. These are the people whose influence comes from their expertise and knowledge, the kinds of things that foster real trust. It’s not always easy to identify these people, but it’s worth the effort. They’re the authentic influencers whose opinions are valued by consumers and brands alike. Let’s give them the status they deserve.