Whether you love her, hate her, or reside somewhere in the middle, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift is more than just a musician — she is a brand and marketing force. She has reinvented herself time and time again, from a sweet and innocent country performer to a rebellious pop star determined to shed her old personas. Regardless of what you think of her, none of us can deny that she’s a shrewd and smart businesswoman and she is someone that brands can learn a lot from.
This week in the US alone, Taylor is on course to secure her fifth number one album with sales of 1.05 million (as of November 15th). She has outsold every other new album in 2017 after only five days of sales.
Taylor premiered her new video during the MTV VMA awards on Sunday, August 27th and she broke the Vevo record for most viewed video in a 24-hour period. Who held this record previously, you ask? It was our very own Adele. Unfortunately for the British icon, Taylor beat Adele’s record for “Hello” with six hours to spare. And who had the Vevo record before Adele? Taylor, of course!
You may not like her as an artist, but I’m sure you’re starting to see the power of Taylor Swift. How does she do it? While I can’t be certain of exactly what is behind Taylor’s brand power, I can definitely speculate as a music loving marketer. Here’s how I believe she achieves this:
- Understanding her target audience
She knows her demographic. She knows who they are, what they want and how to get them to buy her music. In the past, Taylor connected with some of her fans by sending them “Swiftmas Gifts” over the Christmas season and of course documenting it for all the world to see. Helpfully, it landed her some media spotlight time, as well as making her fans go wild. Her lovingly named “Swifties” are elevated to beyond mere “fans”. That simple nickname makes them feel like they are part of Taylor’s journey, instead of just screaming sycophants.
- Tease and reveal campaigns
A couple of weeks before her album launch, Taylor deleted all of her social media content, sending her fans into a frenzy — they knew something was coming. They’re like sharks in that sense (only more dangerous).
She then started to post snake videos to her Instagram to tease her fans further, causing them to speculate about what these videos meant. The first snake video currently has 9.5 million views on Instagram. The video sent her fans so wild that they trolled Kim Kardashian West (see a timeline of their feud here) with the snake emoji. This led to Kim blocking the snake emoji from her Instagram account to stop the bombardment from Taylor’s fans. It turns out Taylor deleting all her social media content played in nicely with her new song, which includes the line “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead.”
Dramatic, I know, but her fans lapped it up. Before premiering her new music video at the VMAs, Taylor used her social profiles to tease some clips from the music video and let her Swifties know where they could catch the full length video. This teaser video currently has 9.7 million views on Instagram alone.
- She produces the goods
Taylor knows how to give her fans exactly what she’s been teasing them with. “Look What You Made Me Do” ties in nicely with past drama, current drama and probably any future drama. It was also the ultimate tease and reveal on social media. The video of the song gave the fans everything they wanted and more, with subtle references to her feud with Katy Perry, the recent assault case she won and includes several of Taylor’s former alter egos making an appearance.
- The “just like us” effect
Taylor embodies the “she is all of us” phrase. What do I mean? Well, she is just like you or me. She has relationship struggles that everyone can relate to. She has pet cats that are named after two characters from popular US TV shows. She portrays herself as normal and slightly awkward, and her fans see themselves in her. Ultimately, Taylor uses her true authentic voice when speaking to her fans through her music, concerts and online presence.
- She’s got a squad full of influencers
In addition to her grassroots support, she has an army of influential friends that include supermodels, actors and fellow singers. These guys have tremendous klout and help her access a huge number of potential followers. She balances this famous squad by insisting she is still BFFs with her childhood school friend (who she was recently a bridesmaid for).
- The feuds
It’s hard to remember a time when Taylor didn’t have beef with someone. Starting with Kanye West back at the 2009 VMAs — we’ve all seen the video — Taylor has always been able to use these feuds to her advantage.
Things were quiet for a few years between the pair, but when Kanye released a song “Famous” which referenced Taylor and included the lyrics “I made that b**** famous”, Taylor was naturally not impressed and let the world know. However, the plot thickened when Kanye’s Wife, Kim released a video of a phone call with Kanye and Taylor, where Taylor approved Kanye referencing her in the song. Still with me? Okay, so while the cynic in me believes these are all staged PR stunts, the world lapped up the drama, giving both Taylor and Kanye plenty of publicity and new music to focus their anger into.
There is no denying the brand power of Taylor Swift, she sells out arenas, she sells millions of records and she has an extremely loyal fan base. Brands can learn a lot from Taylor’s marketing strategies: she understands what her audience wants and she gives it to them in frenzied abundance. She uses potential PR disasters to promote her music.
She connects with her fans on a level that is very different to most artists. Call it what you want, but as marketers, as businesses and as brands we can learn a lot from Taylor Swift.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published by our superstar Facebook Ads specialist Keith Falvey on his LinkedIn account.
If you want to follow in Taylor’s footsteps and use the power of social media and influencers to boost your business, check out our Facebook Ads Management and our Influencer Marketing by Exposure Ninja.
Picture by Authorjazills, no modification.