February 6, 2019 2:52 pm

Jarrett Stone

​​The 2017 Fyre Festival is one of the most epic fails in recent history.

​So much so, that both Hulu and Netflix ​are cashing in ​by releasing ​documentaries about it.

​​Yet, the craziest part ​is how the Fyre Festival become so popular.

​Nobody would be talking about ​it if it wasn't for the insanely-successful influencer marketing campaign.

​This shows ​us a number of things:

1.  Influencers have major power.

2.  Scams will ​continue.

3.  Followers have the ultimate control.


​Warning: Spoilers below

If you haven't heard the news, Fyre Festival was an attempt to have a luxury music festival on a private island.

Its co-creator, Billy McFarland promoted the event by using influencers and models like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski.

After an incredible social media marketing campaign, tickets sold out quickly and the hype was sky high...

But it was a total disaster.

​Guests landed on the island and couldn't go to their rooms.

Their rooms ended up being​ FEMA tents.

The mattresses ​were soaking-wet from rain.

And the food was sliced bread and cheese...

It didn't take long before the entire event was cancelled. 

While the Fyre Festival was ​a flop, the use of influencers was an incredible success for the marketing campaign.

But, the influencers were marketing an event that was destined to fail. As a result, the influencers profited at ​the expense of their followers.

This ​​shows us the dangers of influencer marketing.

1. Influencers Have Major Power.

​The definition of an "influencer" is essentially someone who can influence the behavior of ​their following. This label usually applies to people with large followings on social media.

Mo​st importantly, influencers ​can be considered as an ​an expert in their niche.

Therefore, their followers are more willing to purchase items that the influencer recommends. 

Unfortunately, this isn't like ​getting recommendations from your doctor or lawyer.

As a lawyer, ​I have an ethical obligation to put my client's needs before my own. 

And if there is any chance that my needs may conflict with my client's needs, then I have to disclose that potential conflict to the client before the client decides whether to follow my recommendation.

Lawyers are required to put the client's needs first.

Doctors are required to put the patient's needs first.

Influencers have no such requirement.


​​There are many types of entrepreneurs​. But, influencers​ are unique because their social media profiles can be their business.

​And successful influencers can receive large sums of cash for recommending another company's product or services. 

​As a result, sponsorships ​create a potential conflict between influencers and their followers.

​And the Fyre Festival is a perfect example that shows what happens when this conflict hurts consumers.

For example, Kendall Jenner has over 100 million followers on Instagram​ and she was reportedly paid $250,000 for a single Instagram post that promoted Fyre Festival.

​Pretty mind blowing, right?

​Anyways, posts like this sparked the initial interest in the Fyre Festival. This interest led to tickets being sold. And ​that led to people flying to a private island for an experience of a lifetime (just not the experience that they wanted).

All because ​of ​influencer marketing. 

It's pretty incredible.

But ​with the aftermath of the Fyre Festival and a lot of angry followers/consumers, the FTC is now requiring that influencers ​(among other things) "clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing a product ​through social media." ​

​Here's an example:

This type of transparency is a great step to allowing followers to better judge the influencer's credibility. 

Will this be enough?

Unfortunately, because influencer marketing is in its infancy, that question can't be answered until more time goes by.

One thing is for sure though, marketing scams will continue...

​​​Thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?

2. Scams Will Continue

I vividly remember the days when nobody felt comfortable giving their full name out on the internet -- let alone credit card information.

Fast forward just two decades later and it seems like everyone is trying to build a personal brand and increase their online presence.

Unfortunately, the internet can never be fully transparent and this leads to people taking advantage of that.

Just take a look at social media.

People are given instant​ credibility if they have more followers -- it's only natural.

The issue is that some people gain "influence" based off of fake followers (computer-generated profiles). 

In other words, their "influence" is fabricated and not earned.

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Here is a Forbes article on how to spot pages or "influencers" with fake followers.

With these kind of influencers, ​recommendations can be a total scam because there is no foundation for the recommendation other than making money.

Fortunately, the law is starting to crack down on this modern-day con artist.

The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, found that a company called Devumi was selling followers, likes, and comments on sites like YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and SoundCloud.

James ​says that "this is especially troubling when considering that the opinions of influencers can have particularly strong influence over the reputation and sales for any product, company, service or person they endorse."

Even more concerning, James found that many of the company's clients (aka influencers) actually knew that the followers were fake.

And this is ​only the tip of the iceberg.

​Here's the silver lining:

​Credible entrepreneurs should be excited by fake marketing being exposed. They will no longer be competing against unrealistic results and should rise to the top by being more authentic. 

​And lucky for​ entrepreneurs, ​​followers are starting to be critical of fake influencers as well. 

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​3. ​Followers Have the Ultimate Control

​At the end of the day, everyone has the freedom to choose whether or not to follow an influencer's recommendation.

​We can't forget that an influencer is only as effective as the follower allows.

​So if followers don't fully trust the person they are following, then they can choose not to be influenced by ​that person. 

​Therefore, attention isn't the ultimate commodity in our Internet society -- trust is.

​​​​​​Attention isn't the ultimate commodity in our Internet society -- trust is.

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And the harsh reality is that getting people's trust will be more difficult after events like Fyre Festival​.

But ​that's a good thing.

​The more difficult it becomes to gain trust and become a real influencer, the easier it will be to weed out the fake entrepreneurs.

And that ​is exciting for all of those interested in making an impact as an entrepreneur!

Best,

Jarrett Stone

​Jarrett Stone

Entrepreneur. Lawyer. Total Nerd.
About the Author

Entrepreneur. Lawyer. Total Nerd.

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