In April 2017, a new, exciting, and exotic music festival was set to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. Organized by media mogul Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre Festival was marketed as a luxury music festival and promoted on Instagram by it-girls Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski. Many of the models/social media influencers did not initially disclose that they were being paid to post and thus, would not actually be attending.
Branded events have to be both a place where attendees go to remove themselves from their social media universe to have an authentic, in-person, once-in-a-lifetime experience while still getting viral media attention. Sounds impossible, but if anyone can handle such a paradox, it's an experiential marketer. These event planning ninjas can create a world so enrapturing, attendees only raise their phones to their faces at the exact right moment.
In August 2016, Instagram launched Stories -- a seemingly blatant copycat of Snapchat. Social media professionals and amateur enthusiasts worldwide scoffed at the play and mocked the knockoff filters (the infamous flower crown served as the public's first victim). Even with skepticism and cynicism, Instagram users tried it out. Then, just a year after its initial launch, Instagram Stories surpassed Snapchat's daily usage numbers. How did a photo sharing platform takeover the content world so quickly?
In the last decade, online video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo have evolved from user-generated content libraries into talent agencies. The careers of entertainment superstars such as Justin Bieber, Tyler Oakley, Carly Rae Jepsen, Grace Helbig, Cody Simpson, Michelle Phan, and Jenna Marbles began online. As their singing, stand up, and makeup tutorial posts drew millions of views, loyal and hungry fans came with it - eager to consume more content and skyrocket them to stardom without the assistance of publicists, agents, or PR teams.