If you were pondering through the trending hashtags on Friday like I was, you might have come across #FyreFestival.

Photos from the Bahamas-based event spread like wildfire across social media on Friday, as event attendees arrived at the event to be greeted by scenes that looked better suited to a disaster movie…

Fyre Festival had been marketed as the high-quality, exclusive Coachella-like event, that would provide a select group of music lovers the festival atmosphere, but with decent tents, performances from Migos and Disclosure, booze and private planes.

This was not the reality. Sadly for those who dropped thousands of dollars, even up to $12,000 for the weekend that promised a “once-in-a-lifetime musical experience,” things went from bad to worse. Their weekend was spent trying to organize flights out of the Bahamas, with many forced to seek assistance from the US Embassy.

“It literally looks like Katrina in the Bahamas,” Devon Wijesinghe, CEO of influencer marketing company InsightPool, said to AdWeek.

As tales came out of Blink 182 dropping out early and the catering contract with Starr Catering Group also being terminated weeks before the event, it appears to many that the event was doomed!

“The food services agreement Starr Catering Group entered for the Fyre Festival was terminated on April 2nd, 2017, and since that date Starr Catering Group| Starr Events has not been involved with or provided any services in connection with this event.”

There were several signs running up to the event that indicated that this event should have been canceled weeks ago. Fyre Festival, JaRule, and the other organizers could have saved themselves from embarrassment.

Statements issued by Fyre Festival on their website.

The Fyre Festival was heavily and effectively marketed by influencers, many of whom have remained quiet since the incident. Ja Rule, Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner were amongst those connected to the event through promotion.

How Fyre Festival Got it So Wrong

As a marketer who has worked in the events space for over 5 years, Fyre Festival is every event professional’s worst nightmare.

In fairness, my pre-event nightmares typically involve no-one showing up, as opposed to everyone showing up and nothing being ready!

Without being a member of the team, it’s easy to speculate where they went wrong. But, it looks to me like the team lacked the basic knowledge to pull off an event of this size, or of any size.

On the other hand, Fyre Festival highlights how to use Influencer Marketing right.

How Fyre Festival Got Influencer Marketing Right

Firstly, Fyre Festival clearly identified a gap in the music festival market and created a product that spoke to a target customer. The team had Product Market Fit. They developed a product that fitted into the market, and most importantly, satisfied a need.

Secondly, the marketing team clearly identified that Influencer Marketing would be by far the most effective way to spread the word about the festival. By working with Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and more, they found the best and most direct way to talk to their target market.

Influencer marketing is in its infancy. 2017 is predicted to be the year where this marketing tool dominates, in particular in B2C industries. In a survey conducted towards the end of 2016, 84% of marketers said they plan on launching at least one influencer campaign within the next 12 months.

The principle of influencer marketing has existed for some time in the form of customer testimonials or product reviews. Now, with the explosion of social media, individuals can become ‘influencers’ in a given market or industry. This collection of individuals provides a unique pool for marketers to tap into, especially as 47% of online consumers now use ad blockers, making the tactic of “just running ads” a lot less effective.

Think about it, how much more likely are you to purchase a product if a friend or someone you respect recommends it? Influencer Marketing is essentially deliberate word-of-mouth (a bit of an oxymoron, I know), and it works.

With the rise of ad blockers, the decline in traditional marketing tools, and the steady rise of social media, marketers need to fully embrace influencers to get their message heard in 2017 and beyond.

Here are the 5 steps to achieving success with Influencer Marketing:

  1. As with any marketing initiative, do your homework. Start by thinking about your customer. Ask yourself, who is your target market, what content for they like, what content do they hate, what social channels do they use…it doesn’t matter what you are trying to market, you should also start with examining who your customer is and how they connect before making any decisions.
  2. Next, do your due diligence. Research social media influencers and be smart about how you choose them. Focusing on the number of followers should be your starting point. As always, they need to be the right people. Tools like Buzzstream can help you cut through some of the noise. Think Customer First!
  3. Build relationships with your influencers. You are trusting these individuals with a part of your brand. You want to be sure that they authentically fit with your brand. Also, get to know what your influencers’ objectives are, and work with them to provide value to both parties. You’ll be surprised how often this will mean more than money!
  4. Who will create the content? During these conversations, determine with each influencer where the content will come from, how you plan to measure success, and set clear expectations from the outset.
  5. Don’t forget about FTC compliance. According to Adweek, “The rules are clear just be ‘honest and not misleading.’ For short-format or ephemeral platforms, the FTC has agreed that ‘#ad’ effectively notes that the influencer has been compensated in some way. For YouTube videos, influencers should state that they are working with the brand, received compensation or complimentary products.”

Fyre Festival got a lot wrong. But their use of Influencer Marketing exemplifies how doing your homework, your due diligence, building relationships with influencers, and creating the right content works. Unfortunately, doing some of the steps and not all of them will lead to failure. The festival’s failure to deliver shows that they failed to “be honest and not misleading.”

Authenticity is a hugely important trait to consumers these days. This was the single biggest mistake Fyre Festival made.

Based on their statement, it looks like the folks at Fyre Festival have learned their lesson and will wait until “if or when we are able to create the high-quality experience we envisioned.”