On August 18, 2017, Taylor Swift made jaws drop with a daring marketing stunt. She removed herself from the internet. Her accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even her website went completely blank. The internet went crazy, trying to decode what Swift was planning. What happened in the next week was marketing genius.
Before discussing her recent actions, we must delve into Swift’s early marketing tactics. Swift has always put her fan base first. She creates a mystery for them in her music to be solved through a multitude of hidden clues, such as her liner notes. Because Swift is famous for writing songs about her own relationships, friendships and major life events, fans and even those who aren’t fans love to analyze her music, allowing them to enter into her particularly private life.
Prior to August 18, 2017, multiple events happened that led Swift to where she is now. In 2009, a feud began between Swift and famous rapper Kanye West when West stormed the stage during her acceptance speech for “Best Female Video” at the MTV Video Music Awards. The two music moguls have had bad blood ever since. For a full timeline of their interactions created by Bustle, click here. Swift has also had drama with another popular singer, Katy Perry. Both artists have written songs about one another. Check out Time’s article for more details. The most recent event that influenced Swift was her victory in a groping trial on August 14, 2017, just three days before she wiped out her social media. For more information on the trial, check out Rolling Stone’s article here.
On August 18, 2017, there was no hint of new music. Many assumed Swift wanted to take a break from the media following the groping trial. However, within the next seven days there was a new song, music video, album announcement and a genius marketing plan set in place. It was the beginning of the new era of Taylor Swift.
The unconventional move to wipe out her social media proved extremely successful for Swift. By deleting all previous posts, she was able to solely focus her page on what was coming, not the past. She removed traces of former projects, relationships and outside gossip, setting the stage for something new and different. Swift gave herself a fresh start to reinvent how her fans and the media would view her brand, which was true marketing genius.
Swift’s new single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” was full of references to past feuds with celebrities, previous romances and many deep realizations about herself. The song introduced a new era for Swift, showing the media that she’s no longer the good girl or the victim. When she began posting on social media again, it was dark and mysterious. She posted gifs of a snake, something many people had negatively nicknamed her. Her photos became more provocative and her captions sassier. This transformation in Swift’s persona left her fans and the media wanting more. According to Billboard, within its first week of streaming, “Look What You Made Me Do” invaded its way into the charts at number one with 84.4 million streams, more than any other song in 2017. Swift also was the first female to hold a number one spot since Adele’s “Hello” in 2015. The song’s official music video broke the 24-hour viewing record with 43.2 million views, a huge increase from the previous record of 27.7 million.
Though Swift has taken over a bad girl reputation, her love for her fans has not wavered. Now more than ever, Swift is reaching out to fans via social media and has already invited 300 or more fans into her home to listen to the new album prior to its release in something she calls “Secret Sessions.” Swift’s connection to her fan base is incredibly beneficial to her brand. Loyal fans, usually the ones who outspokenly praise Swift, are noticed by Swift. When others see the attention fans are getting, they too become more outspoken about their love for Swift. This increases her fan base and improves the type of content shared about her on social media.
Swift also introduced “Taylor Swift Tix,” a new way to ensure tickets to her upcoming tour are in the hands of loyal fans rather than scalpers. The ticketing program requires registration and puts all those registered in a line. Fans can move forward in the line by engaging in “boost activities” such as preordering Swift’s new album, purchasing merchandise, posting on social media and even viewing her music video multiple times per day. All of these “boost activities” promote Swift’s brand. Forbes calls this technique an enhanced shopper loyalty program.
While Swift has a loyal fan base, her ability to reinvent herself is what continues to boost her brand and promise continuous success in the future. She doesn’t rely on her past successes to speak for her skill. She takes control of her brand and allows the media and her fans to come along for the ride. Today’s consumers demand unconventional, above-and-beyond marketing tactics and Swift is listening. Marketing professionals can no longer play it safe. They must take control of their brand.
Whether you love her or hate her, Swift’s marketing skills are something to notice. What can you learn from her genius marketing strategy? How can you use this for your own brand?