What Fyre Festival Did Wrong But Oh-So Right

3 February, 2019

9 mins read

A swimming pig with a bird on its back in the Bahamas

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The notorious Fyre Festival may be dubbed ‘the greatest party that never happened’ but it goes down as one of the most effective social media campaigns of all time.

If you don’t know, Fyre Festival was a two-weekend luxury festival planned to be held on a private island in The Bahamas in 2017. Their debut marketing of a video flaunting the world’s top models on a pristine beach drew attention—fast. While tickets may have been upwards of $500 to $12,000+, they sold out at an incredible rate.

Huts on a beach in The Bahamas

Attendees were promised private jet transfers, beachfront lodges, gourmet food and the chance to party with celebrities and influencers like they were best friends. Only, when they arrived, they walked into tents with soaked bedding and not even enough of those to go around. Footage surfaced of a cheese sandwich being the only food provided. And then, all the acts cancelled.

A new documentary on Netflix, aptly titled FYRE, reportedly exposes everything that happened.

But how did so many people (a reported 5,000 tickets were sold plus influencers galore) get lured into this grand lie? It was all thanks to some genius social media marketing. This is what they did, what they did wrong and how you can bring success to your own social media marketing plan.

How did Fyre Festival sell out their first ever release?

It all started with this video:

Looks amazing, right? This was the basis for the festival’s entire marketing campaign—use influence and fear of missing out (FOMO).

While this video was picking up speed, the instantly recognisable models were sharing videos, photos and sneak peeks from their time on the island. And then came the posts—the orange tiles. “Join us at Fyre Festival,” they’d spruke on their Instagram posts. The festival was officially viral.

Next, came the performers. Seeing the success of this video and the influencers involved, acts were jumping on left right and centre. Sure, paying them more than double their normal rate probably helped too—but they were still signing up. What led the acts to the festival is the same as what attracted the attendees…influence.

Influence written on steel

Fyre Festival wasn’t just any music event. It was an experience. For the small price of several thousand dollars, you could holiday in The Bahamas with celebrities, see your favourite performers and live the life of the rich and famous. You’d be jet skiing, eating sushi on white-sand beaches, throwing hi-fives with Gigi and sleeping in luxury. Who wouldn’t want that for well below the normal holiday rate?

But can you really do this with any business? YES! And here’s how.

Is it possible for small businesses to use social media the same way as Fyre Festival?

Yes! A small budget doesn’t have to mean no action. Obviously you most likely won’t be able to snag top models or throw social-envy parties on private beaches—but you can do these steps:

Be relatable.

Connect with your customers ‘why’ for using your business. Will it save them time or money, give them status, secure their future or generally just make their life better in some way? Florists, share photos of wedding days and events with your arrangements. Builders, how about those finishing touches that make your homes really special? Find the reason why people use your brand, and build your brand around it.

Girls looking at smartphone

Get your customer relations in check.

Before you even think about starting social media, allocate someone to respond to comments, private messages and reviews. If something happens with your product or service that you can’t provide, tell people. This was one of Fyre Festival’s big downfalls—not keeping people in the loop. Try and handle complaints offline, so when they come to you, so they don’t end up in the public eye.

See: 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience.

Check out micro-influencers.

Having someone with influence doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, influencers with smaller followings tend to have the most loyal fans, who trust what they say. Tribe, a business-to-influencer agency advises rates can start at $75 to $150 post. Most people will make back $75 in a sale or two—so you’re pretty much guaranteed to make your money back.

Get organised to exploit peak sale times.

You should be thinking about your social media weeks, even months, in advance. Using a social media tool, such as the one included in our CRM packages, can help you schedule your posts so you can get on with your week.

Hire an expert.

Fyre Festival didn’t actually do their own social media. They knew it wasn’t their specialised area and someone who is could do it better. Hiring a social media manager to run paid ads ensures you receive a good return on investment and spend your time on your own specialised area. Learn more.

Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know looking to revamp their social media.

If you do, be sure to tag us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram!

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