Don’t believe everything you see on Instagram folks. Apparently sometimes the way people portray things is better than how they are in real life. 

Shocker, right? While this may be obvious to seasoned social media pros, it’s a lesson that must be imparted upon the next generation – in particular, the so-called “elite millennials” who flew down to the Bahamas for Fyre Festival expecting VIP treatment but instead got rickety tents and cheese sandwiches.

As for the influencers who promised an amazing experience, they seem to have quite the chutzpah. According to NPR, the so-called “Fyre Tribe” of social media celebrities did not disclose they were being compensated and many have now since deleted their posts.

 Thankfully the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on “celebrity Instagrammers” that don’t provide proper disclosure as reported on CNBC. While you’re reading that article, be sure to check out the citation of 4C’s State of Social report at the end showing 138% growth in ad spend year-over-year on Instagram. I suspect we’ll see continued growth of social advertising going forward instead of paid influencer tactics not only because the FTC is cracking down but because organic reach is declining across the board.

All this controversy has me reminiscing about another music festival that was woefully underprepared for its debut. 15 years ago, Bonnaroo kicked off on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee. The organizers were ill-equipped to handle the tens of thousands of people that showed up all at once and I remember being stranded on the road for 26 hours while traversing the final two miles onto the festival grounds. But, unlike today’s “elite millennials” we looked at is as an adventure and made the best out of the situation. We broke out music, food, drinks, etc. on the street with the folks around us.  And let me tell you, we didn’t complain about cheese sandwiches, we grilled them up and they were divine!

Back then there were no social media influencers. Heck, there was no social media. MySpace only came out the following year. Word simply traveled slower in those days. So did, it seemed, time. There were less distractions. Sure, I had a Blackberry at Bonnaroo (nerd alert!) to keep up on work email and a flip phone (no camera!) to keep up with my friends. But I was largely tuned in to the scene, at the present, in the moment. These days, I’m armed to the teeth with distractions and devices but all in the name of moment marketing.

Perhaps the biggest thing Bonnaroo got right that Fyre got wrong was the element of “underpromising and overdelivering.” This is a lesson for brands as well. Along the same lines, when it comes to leveraging fans vs. influencers, it’s clear authenticity is the key to a good outcome. Finally, if you’re writing checks, paid advertising is the surest way forward on social media to ensure transparency and scale.

Now it’s time to live and let live with more of 4C’s Insights.   

Read the rest of 4C’s Insights Volume 54 here.

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