Remember back in 2016 when a video dropped showing Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski partying on yachts and drinking piña coladas on the beach and it ended up being a promotion for some private-island-Coachella called Fyre Festival?
Then the internet collectively thought, “This is definitely too good to be true.” And a year later, we found out it was.
Yeah, me too.
Fyre Festival was a disaster. It led to a lot of lawsuits, two major documentaries, and some serious trauma for those involved.
I’m not saying this is a business model we should be replicating. They did almost everything wrong. Except for one thing: the marketing.
They understood the power of the influencer. Thousands of people spent thousands of dollars and showed up to an unfinished campsite to take part in a festival they knew nothing about.
What is influencer marketing?
Marketing today is about marketing a lifestyle. It is effective to find someone who is already selling a lifestyle to your target audience. Then, proceed to advertise through them.
Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept. It has certainly revolutionized in recent years thanks to the age of social media. However, the idea of using individuals who are considered influential to sell a product, is not.
Influencers today are often stigmatized as being a 20-something-Gucci-belt-girl telling you to buy weight loss tea.
In reality, an influencer is a social hub. They have charisma and a unique ability to convince other people to do something. In this case, buy what you’re selling.
It feels more authentic than other forms of paid advertisements.
According to a Forbes article, good influencers are defined by a combination of their reach, credibility, and salesmanship.
Reach is their ability to deliver a message to a large audience. In other words, their popularity. This could be their social media following or a position of leadership.
Credibility is their expert power. The trust their following places in them. It is specific to their brand. You trust a restaurant recommendation from a food blogger and make up tips from a beauty YouTuber. But not vice-versa.
Finally, their salesmanship. How effective will they be at selling your product?
These characteristics are interrelated. If an influencer is lacking in one category, they may make up for it in another. In other words, do your research!
This is where we come back to Fyre Festival. I said their marketing was successful. And it was in a sense, but not as successful as it could have been.
They didn’t do any research on who was promoting their festival. They chose all their influencers based solely on their reach.
The mega-influencers also failed us. They stopped caring if the product aligned with their brand because they were being paid. They lost credibility.
In conclusion, the best way to do influencer marketing is with micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers have smaller followings (1,000-10,000 people) than regular influencers, but a much larger ratio of engagement. They are incredibly well-known and respected in specific niches.
They are more likely to be an ambassador than a typical salesman. They are also more likely to accept free products/services in exchange as payment for their promotion. This makes your collaboration more credible and cost efficient.
This blog on micro-influencers best explains the benefits of using micro-influencers over regular influencers.
So, is it worth the hype?
Yes, when done correctly.
Do your research and build relationships with the influencers you choose to partner with. A larger following doesn’t always mean better results.
Amanda Ashby is a junior studying Strategic Communications at The Ohio State University. She is an account associate for The PRactice and a member of the Ohio State chapter of PRSSA. As a writer, she specializes in news writing and blogging. She hopes to stay in Columbus after graduating and starting her career at a local PR agency while freelance writing on the side. In her free time, she enjoys eating breakfast for dinner and celebrating obscure holidays.