As Taylor Swift makes herself a billionaire and breaks the world record for winning her fourth ‘Album of the Year’ award at the Grammys, we have a look at the marketing strategies that got her there, how she drives engagement and what we can learn.
“If Swift were an economy,” one source commented, “she’d be bigger than 50 countries.” She has had more No. 1 albums than any woman in history and has been the only artist ever to have all of the top 10 chart spots on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. USA Today recently advertised for a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter.
Every element of her brand strategy encourages engagement from her fans, rewarding them with unique interactions and connections.
Make your customers part of the journey
Author Seth Goodin said, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic”. This is an ethos Taylor Swift lives by. She doesn’t just broadcast, her interactions with her fans are two-way.
Each new release comes with hidden ‘easter eggs’, obscure clues she’s left for her fans (Swifties) to find and solve. From hints in her Instagram posts to sound bites in songs, she leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for fans who are ‘in the know’. This creates a sense of excitement and exclusivity and encourages fans to post, comment and join the conversation.
Swift’s website was down during her Grammy appearance on 4th Feb, showing the error codes ‘hneriergrd’ and ‘DPT: 321’. Clue-cracking fans swarmed to the internet and deciphered an anagram for red herring. During the Grammys, she announced her latest album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’. Fans theorise ‘DPT: 321’ to be a reversed acronym of the album title.
She also does the exact opposite and releases surprise album drops. Her impeccable timing of two surprise albums, in a year when the world was locked inside in a global pandemic, felt as though she was rewarding fans rather than making the most of a captive audience. The uncharacteristically spontaneous release generated a huge buzz and later resulted in a Grammy for album of the year.
Driving engagement: The power of exclusivity, as well as building anticipation, encourages your clients to get involved and drives engagement. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, making your clients feel seen and appreciated will set you apart.
Social media is an excellent tool for understanding how your audience thinks and how to respond to their needs, providing the best service. Taylor Swift used this knowledge to find new ways to interact: fans created a TikTok dance to one of her songs, she learnt it and incorporated it on stage. Understanding that Taylor Swift is listening to their social media interactions will encourage further engagement in the hope that theirs gets seen too.
Driving engagement: Gathering data from social listening or surveys is the first step; being able to adapt and react, learning and improving to provide the best service will create success. Responding when customers engage with you on social media will help appease the algorithms and help your posts be seen by a wider audience to extend your reach.
Taylor Swift goes above and beyond for her fans. For her 1989 album release, she held secret listening sessions for a handful of fans in her own homes. The Swifties were chosen from social media, a clever way to encourage engagement so that next time it could be you.
She makes her fans the star of the show and the language she uses amplifies this relationship. Following her recent film release, she credited her fans, saying “What a truly mind-blowing thing you’ve turned Eras Tour Concert Film into” and “it’s an adventure we’re still on together”.
Swift has also donated $1 million to Louisiana for flood relief, contributed to funeral costs for a fan, played at a wedding and performed for a veteran on boxing day.
Driving engagement: While you don’t have to invite your clients to your house, personalised experiences and loyalty programs and the language you use can show that you value your clients and whether they continue doing business with you or not.
There is a fine balance between change to keep it exciting and consistency and familiarity. Taylor Swift treads the line magnificently, morphing from country to pop and folk, changing her look and her sound while keeping her fans along for the ride.
She is a master of branding, and it comes in 2 parts.
An ever-changing feast for the senses: with catchy melodies and relatable metaphors regardless of the genre she’s playing with. Strong visual presence, colours, lipsticks and clothes that embody the ‘era’ she’s currently in. The change with every album release keeps fans excited and guessing, encouraging them to engage with their ideas.
The second string to her branding bow is her relatable and consistent authenticity. Taylor Swift’s morals and her desire to fight for what she believes in, helps her to keep building her tribe through shared values and experiences.
Driving engagement: Customers want to be able to trust you, being recognisable and providing consistently good service will help. Understanding your audience’s needs is crucial to providing a service where they can feel seen and heard and want to engage with you.
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